Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Adventures In Recruiting: The Bad Seed – A Strange Tale Of A Liar

There once was a superstar account executive.  I placed her at a great small agency.  Margeotes, Fertitta Weiss.  It was a really good placement because she was destined to become a big star; she had come out of a big agency with all the requisite background .  For this post, we will call her Meghan.

Meghan was well liked and doing a great job.  She was at the agency for about six or seven months and called me to ask advice.  She had been approached by another recruiter to go to the agency that then handled Revlon; she would be an account supervisor..  She told me it was her dream account.  She told me how much the job was paying (of course naming the highest amount she was told, which was probably 50% more than she was currently making) and asked me what she should do.  I told her that I did not think she had enough experience to handle Revlon which was a very difficult account; I believe she had been an account executive for under two years.  I also told her she was doing very well where she was and that in about another year she would be promoted and be making at least the money that this job was supposedly paying.  I also explained to her that Revlon was very difficult and notoriously fickle, changing agencies frequently.  I did tell her that if it was her dream account, she should probably take one interview, but that I did not want to be involved as it was awkward for me since I placed her at the agency and was not involved with this situation.  I also asked her not to discuss it with me.  I knew the recruiter who called her and told her to work with him and not me.
Nevertheless, she kept calling.  She called me to discuss every interview she had and every discussion she had with her recruiter.  It was a little odd and I told Meghan again that I was uncomfortable with the conversations since I had nothing to do with this.  I mostly just listened politely, but don't remember saying anything beyond that she should be talking to her recruiter.

A few weeks went by and early one morning, out of the blue, her boss, George Fertitta, called me and asked, “Is there any reason why I should continue to work with you?”  I was shocked and I asked him what he was talking about.  He told me the Meghan had told him that I recruited her and sent her to another agency and that I got Meghan an offer to work on Revlon. I was dumbfounded.  Recruiting out of a company a recruiter works for is a no-no and highly unethical. I immediately got into a cab and went to the agency so I could have a face-to-face with George.   Meghan saw me and ran to her office and, literally, locked herself in and would not open her door or talk to me.  Through the door I asked her why she told her boss that I was her recruiter, but no response.  It was bizarre.  George told me that he would like to get to the bottom of the issue, but that never happened.  Meghan never again took my calls.  (Incidentally, for some reason, she did not take the job and remained at MFW.)  

I lost the account…temporarily.

Meanwhile, I had placed another senior person there.  She, too was a star; her name was Susan.  Meghan worked for her. 

Strange things started to happen to Susan.  She would find the client in a conference room, but did not know about the meeting. There would be creative meetings she knew nothing about.  It was still before computers and people sent out memos.  While Susan’s name was on memos, many were never delivered to her. Consequently, she missed meetings, deadlines and important information. The agency thought she was disinterested and after many similar incidents, Susan was terminated.  It left her dumbfounded.

Then, one day, George saw Meghan in the hallway and asked her about something having to do with a client.  It was one of those innocuous hallway meetings we have all had.  Meghan told him a whole long story about her conversation with the client just the previous day, including that there would be a meeting with the client the following week, but she had not yet sent out the memo. Her conversation was filled with many details.  Later that morning, by sheer coincidence, George was speaking to the client and said something about Meghan's conversation and the upcoming meeting.  The client told him that he had no idea what George was talking about – he had not spoken to Meghan in about a week.  George was incredulous and questioned the client about the conversation and its details.  When the client expressed no knowledge of any of it, George Fertitta realized that he had been lied to.

He thought about the situation and, then, connected all the dots and said to himself, “Oh my God, Paul and Susan.” He realized that Meghan was a congenital liar and immediately fired her.  It was too late to rehire Susan, who was now gainfully employed elsewhere. 

George called me and asked to have lunch; on the phone he gave me a brief explanation of what had happened.  The purpose of the lunch was to apologize to me.  I felt vindicated. And to this day, George Fertitta is the only person who has ever apologized to me for a mistake.  I continued to recruit for him until he sold the agency and retired from advertising.

But the end of the story came about two years later, when a friend who was the new president of an agency called me to replace a non-performing executive.  You guessed it – Meghan. 
Now in two years Meghan had gone from being an account executive to, what was then the next level above supervisor, management supervisor.  The president felt she was not performing to her title; he had spoken to her several times but she did not or could not improve her performance. In fact, she parried every criticism, blaming the issues on people above and below her.  I explained that the reason why was that she was the only MS in the business who had probably never been an account supervisor.

Suffice to say that Meghan lost her job and, to my knowledge, never worked in advertising again because of her bad references.   

I recently looked her up on line. She is now in real estate, but on the website, I saw that she even lied about her titles and success in the advertising business, claiming that she was an EVP at this last agency and there far longer than she actually worked there.  Hard to believe, but very true.  Pity her clients.  I can only imagine what she tells them about properties she is showing.


  1. There might be openings for her at the White House working for Trump! ...wink, wink!

  2. Wow, sounds like maybe she suffered from a little mental illness too?

    1. For sure. And, based on her on-line profile, it remains a problem.

  3. My maternal grandfather, who was essentially my surrogate father, taught me as a little kid that the two lowest forms of life are liars and thieves. And to this day, I still believe that. Because one invariably leads to the other, in no particular or predictable order of events. And that ALL we are and truly have are our reputations. Not what WE think about ourselves, but what OTHERS who genuinely know us say about us when we’re not around. That’s the ultimate measure of whom and what we are. And while we will always have our trolling detractors on the internet if we post in social media (as I often do), the unanimous opinion and consensus of all usually prevails.


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