Scott sits down (in person!) with George Hall. George is the President of LINQ, a managed mobility services provider, and There Goes My Hero, a nonprofit dedicated to those impacted by blood cancer, both headquartered in Baltimore. George talks about his very eventful first day in Maryland, what he looks for in new hires, the easy way you could save a life, and more.
Check out the transcript below and listen along with the embed, Spotify, Apple Podcasts, or your favorite podcast app.
Scott Pruim: All right. Welcome to the first road show edition of The Helpdesk podcast. Today we have George Hall, president of LINQ Services with us, so we’re happy about that. I think the easiest thing to do right off the bat, cuz this is a brand new format, is just to have George tell us a little bit about himself, where he came from, we’ll get into what he does and some fun stuff.
George Hall: Great. Name’s George Hall. President. I’m a Leo. I like long walks on the beach and Dr. Pepper,
Scott Pruim: Same things I like.
George Hall: Same thing, right? No. Born and raised in Pennsylvania. Moved down here in 1988, so I’m gonna give you my first day in Maryland.
Scott Pruim: Okay. All right. Bring it on.
George Hall: This is good. We’ll start right here.
Came down first day. Met my boss, met my roommate.
Scott Pruim: Wow.
George Hall: Found a place to live. Bought a truck, opened a bank account, and I was robbed of everything I had.
Scott Pruim: All in one day?
George Hall: All in my first day in Maryland. So all I had left was 1500 bucks. They even stole my clothes out of the truck.
Yeah. So there you go. So I had nothing left. Is that great?
Scott Pruim: How did day two go?
George Hall: Day two? Much better. Cause you can only go up from there, [laughs but uh, so that was my first day in Maryland.
Scott Pruim: Interesting.
George Hall: Been here ever since. So there you go. So it didn’t deter me.
Scott Pruim: That’s good. That’s good. Wow. I don’t even know how to come back from that.
Equating business to sports & traits of a good candidate
Scott Pruim: I think one of the things that it has always inspired me a little bit about you, attracted me to you. Not in that way. Is how you handle business and what you look for and generally, I think you do a lot of equating it to sports. So if you can talk a little bit about what you look for in people, especially being president of a company.
You know, what character traits you look for, what you don’t like, maybe even, but, what makes the most attractive candidate and possible employee for you?
George Hall: Yeah, sure. So, huge sports guy. Football is my go-to sport. I have two boys both playing football they didn’t have a choice. No, I’m only kidding you, they absolutely loved it, but I really equate, you know, business with sports, right? It really is. And me being a football guy, it’s a football team versus a business team.
So from a staffing perspective, I’ll go a couple ways.
So one is just finding talent, right? Especially in today’s world, staffing is challenging, right? Retaining and finding. Yeah. And it doesn’t matter what type of the role is, it’s just everywhere.
So one of the things I look for in an interview. There’s really four items. One is work ethic. Okay? Two is, I look for the attitude. Three as a team player. Four is knowledge.
Notice the knowledge was last because if you can’t teach or coach the first three things, they either have it or they don’t. But knowledge you can teach. So knowledge is the least of the things I look at. And if they have a sports background, it’s even better for me and in the sales world I’m all about hiring athletes. It’s almost if you’ve seen Enterprise rent-a-car, right? They promote it. They hire a lot of college athletes. In the sales role. I definitely focus on athletes because they win, they lose, they know what it takes to come back out of that. And they’re coachable, those kind of things.
But, and the other avenues, that’s a bonus. But I look for those first three. That’s huge characteristics for me.
Scott Pruim: So maybe, if you can explain, especially for the first one, the work ethic. Yeah. I think that’s probably the hardest thing to ever really determine in somebody that you’re trying to hire, or even be friends with, work with, whatever.
Is there something specifically about a sports background, besides the winning, losing, being part of a team? Sure. How do you gauge that?
George Hall: That’s good. So maybe they didn’t play sports. But from a work ethic, when I look at a resume and in an interview you can uncover, and the way I uncovered is just talking about how they got to where they are today.
Okay? And a little bit is maybe during school, right? They went to college and they had to work through college, right? To put themselves through college or they came from a background where maybe my family wasn’t farming and I had to work or some type of thing like that shows a little bit of characteristic of what their work ethic is to get through there.
Sometimes you’ve seen you’ve heard people go, listen, I just didn’t have the money, so I did it in three years or three and a half years. And I’m like, whoa. You know, they are committed. So you can uncover some of that in there maybe by the jobs or whatever.
What I definitely don’t do is the hoppers, the jumpers, right? If they’ve jumped from job to job within a two year period. They won’t even make it to me.
Scott Pruim: That’s the cutoff.
George Hall: Now, listen, I don’t interview many people anymore. We have a team that does that, but if I ever get involved or asked, those are the things I look for right there.
Preparing for a leadership role, decision making for a business
Scott Pruim: What do you think specifically about your background, maybe even outside of sports and your first day here in Maryland, prepared you for where you are now?
Because obviously, being present, you’re in charge of a business. There’s a lot of very specific things that go into that, but is there something that in your background that you can point to that helped you get to where you are?
George Hall: Yeah, I’ll start backwards actually.
People will talk, among there and maybe they have a team of five or a team of seven or whatever. For me it’s a team of 110 people, and I always look at it as, I gotta take care of and make decisions that affect 110 families. So I don’t take that, I don’t take my role lightly.
So the decisions I make are usually based upon the entire company and never about one person. I have to make it about an organization.
The second thing is, why do I make the decisions I do and how did I get in this role? It really goes back to my upbringing. Started working at 13. My dad came home one day and said, “Hey, I’m gonna leave the A&P grocery store- for those that are older, the Great Atlantic and Pacific Tea Company.
Scott Pruim: I remember, I’m old.
George Hall: Very large company. He left, he was there for forever and said, “I’m gonna open up this convenience store and you don’t go to college if we don’t survive.”
So at age 13, we learned how to run a cash register right at the dining room table, which I was fascinated about. He hit the money drawer opened up. Now listen, there was no money in there. But I thought I could see the vision of this thing. So I worked at the store at age 13, and I think that’s really what started my whole work ethic and why I look at that.
And then my dad, really, how I handle people and talk to people came from my father. I just watched my father interact with clients, customers, the staff, the way he treated people. And he used to be up at five and worked till 10 at night.
And I just watched my dad how hard he worked to get to where we were to help us to get through school. We still had loans and things like that to pay off when we get out, but it’s just that work ethic really was instilled in me and then how to work with people.
And then I think, you know, yes, I did play football. For those that are also old, junior high. Did you play football? Junior high? ‘Cause it’s not middle school: junior high. Let’s be honest.
Scott Pruim: We had a middle school, but we still had a team.
George Hall: See we did too. It was junior high team, right?
Scott Pruim: Pennsylvania. So we’re different.
George Hall: So played football PA and played in high school and then went on to college to play and if it’s okay, I got a pretty funny football story here.
Scott Pruim: Bring it on. I like it.
George Hall: My freshman year. So you come from a school where you’re the man, right? And then you go to college and you’re not the man. Cause everybody was the guy. Yes, right. they were all, all county, everything. But I am the man, so I’m gonna show people I am the man.
So I’m so excited. Freshman, I get put on the kickoff team, which is, you know, awesome. No freshman really play. So I am gonna make my mark. So I am on this kickoff team. They kickoff. I’m running down there, I’m squaring up. I’m gonna get this guy. He is dead to rights. I got him.
The next thing I remember is looking at the blue sky with one eye.
And what I realized is I still had both eyes, I was actually looking out my ear hole, because I got hit so hard. We called that a “balorfal”. And when you get balorfal’d, that means they’re gonna show the rest of the hundred players on the team how bad you played on that position. That really built my strength of taking criticism.
Scott Pruim: Nice.
George Hall: So, you know, back then they were not afraid to criticize you in front of everybody. Oh yeah. They let you know. And I remembered that moment that I was gonna actually work harder, be smarter, and listen to the critics out there to teach me. So that kind of built me up to where I am today and learned to live that.
And I try to instill some of those things into here.
Scott Pruim: Like you said, you can be the best in anything. The next level is a whole different story.
George Hall: Totally. And I think, you know, that equates into the career world too, right?
Sometimes with maybe some of the younger people, they were given everything. And they haven’t had to earn as much. And sometimes it’s a good lesson for them.
Charity & There Goes My Hero
Scott Pruim: One of the other things that I know that you’re into is charity. So before we specifically talk about There Goes My Hero, maybe you can tell us a little bit either about why charity’s so important to you and giving back, or what got you into it?
George Hall: Sure. Again, I was blessed with a great family. My parents, my mom was church secretary and she was a little bit of an entrepreneur with a dress. She was a women’s fashion business, so I drive to the clothing store.
Again, growing up in rural Pennsylvania, a lot of people say rural Pennsylvania, but they’re the suburb of a city. No. We grew up in the Allegheny National Forest. We had no movie theater. We went to the drive-in. No fast food. It was the Tastee Freeze, right.
So, you know, family and community really became part of who I am today. And I learned that from my dad. He was always volunteering and doing things for community and the school and things like that.
And that, that became important for me about giving back. People that know me, I’m always about the, I always say 50% of your life should be learning, 40% should be doing and 10% should be given back, but the 10% shouldn’t be at the end. It should be through your whole life. So it’s very important for me to give back to community, whatever it is.
So There Goes My Hero is important to me and I’m actually the President of the Board. Okay. My first day as President of the Board was March of 2020. We all know what that was. So that was I literally inherit, I get sworn in as the President and it’s like, how many months do we have left? Before the money runs out.
Scott Pruim: You can’t do anything.
George Hall: Right. So that’s a challenge. Yeah. I’ll fill my term through March of 2023 and we’re stronger than ever thanks to our Board and the team, but we provide hope to families and those impacted by blood cancer, whether it’s leukemia or multiple myeloma.
And for me it’s, I wear these two bands. My father died of leukemia, my sister’s battling blood cancer. So for me it became even more of a passion. Because my family’s been affected by it, but it’s not the only reason I chose that. So we try to register people on the bone marrow registry.
Especially one of our initiatives is color the registry. Because people of color have less chance of finding a match. Only a 25% chance. Those of European descent, 75%. So we’re really trying to get out there to push color the registry. It’s one of our big mantras and pushes to try to get people of all ethnicity to register on the bone marrow to save a life.
Scott Pruim: So how do you… one, how do you get involved? But then two, how do you find matches. What’s the process for that?
George Hall: It’s real easy. The swabbing part is you have to be under 55. I’m 56. So I’m officially out. It’s 18 to 55. Our founder he was impacted, he was getting ready to have a child, was sick, went into the hospital and they said, Hey, you have leukemia.
Scott Pruim: Wow.
George Hall: And you have a son being born in two weeks. Can you imagine that? So, he was saved by an 18 year old girl in Germany. So that’s an amazing story. Ends up going to her wedding almost 10 years later.
Scott Pruim: That’s awesome.
George Hall: That’s pretty cool. So, he was passionate about, let’s try to find people to register.
Okay. So it’s literally a swab in the cheek with a Q-tip. And then you’re registered on the list and that’s-
Scott Pruim: An international list?
George Hall: It’s international.
Scott Pruim: Okay.
George Hall: Yep. So, Be The Match. People have heard of that one, Be The Match. We’re part of that community where they all go to one registry. Okay? There’s one registry that holds ’em all.
You only do it one time. And then if they find you, they will do some screening. So maybe you change your mind at the time or something’s different in your family and you may not be able to do it, right? But they look at the matches and the percentage match with them. And then you go in and depending on what they’re looking for is the procedure.
Scott Pruim: Interesting.
George Hall: But they take care of everything financially for it, which is cool.
Scott Pruim: Uh, One of the, before I get into some of the fun, not fun, gotcha questions I got for-
George Hall: oh boy-
Scott Pruim: at the end here.
George Hall: Oh yeah.
Scott Pruim: LINQ is here in Baltimore. So I wanted to ask you specifically, having lived here for a very long time, what do you see Baltimore as right now?
Like LINQ’s location, and we can share all this later on, is just across the street or actually probably in Port Covington, which is a huge built up and kind of new area.
What do you think when you think of Baltimore?
George Hall: Yeah, so when I moved down here in ’88, the reason I moved here was opportunity.
Growing up there was not much opportunity. Most of my friends from high school are loggers, so somebody marks the log, cuts the log, skids the logs, you know what I’m saying? Set it down the road. Right. Plywood river. They’re the guys on TV that climb those logs, right?
So for me, it was about opportunity. So for me, I look at Baltimore, I look at Maryland, it’s just opportunity. I think since I’ve been here, it’s become more of a technology city and that excites me. And I think there’s opportunity and talent.
You asked me earlier on about finding talent. I think the talent pool is great here. So the reason we chose Port Covington, honestly, it is, we were here early, right? We are technically part of Port Covington and we’re watching it grow beside us, which we’re excited for. And we know that the five year, six year plan of the development here, I think for us is gonna find even more talent.
Okay. It’s also a good central location. I think, Baltimore. Some people live south the city ‘cuz maybe one spouse works in DC or Northern Virginia. So that’s good. And I’m a Hartford County guy and that really grew in the last, since I’ve been here in ’88. Just doubled in size.
So I think there’s opportunity. I look at Maryland, there’s opportunity, great talent and technology. So, we have an office in Pittsburgh and we have an office in Las Vegas as well. Okay. But I love our headquarters being right here.
Scott Pruim: I love it. So let’s start off with an easy one to kind of wrap this up.
George Hall: Bring it.
Scott Pruim: M&Ms. Favorite flavor?
George Hall: Favorite flavor of M&Ms? I usually go blue. Yeah. I don’t know why.
Scott Pruim: So I’ll tell you this. We do an internal podcast at Integris and these are some of the questions we always ask.
George Hall: I love this.
Scott Pruim: Peanut M&M fan?
George Hall: I am a peanut M&M — here’s the irony, okay?
I watched The Lost City last night cuz I’m a movie guy. He asked me what else I do. I watch a lot of movies. So I watched The Lost City last night and I’m trying to lose some weight. So I counted out 20 M&Ms last night and they were peanut M&Ms. And I put ’em on a plate and the last ones to go were blue cuz I just, I don’t know why. The blue just pops.
I’m not even like, blue’s not even my favorite color. I just dunno why it is like that, right?
Scott Pruim: I love it. Um, so here’s the one that generally doesn’t get me in trouble, but people call me out on.
George Hall: Jolly Rancher, watermelon. Then Apple. No, go ahead, sorry.
Scott Pruim: In the shower,
George Hall: Okay,
Scott Pruim: So we’re getting personal. Bar soap or body wash?
George Hall: So I was a bar soap guy. But my wife and kids have totally ruled the house over the years. So now it is the liquid soap, which is a genius business model, let’s be honest. Yeah. Because you go through liquid soap, like nothing. Oh, three times as fast, so you’re buying two bottles of liquid soap for every bar of soap because you’re speeding the process up.
Scott Pruim: That’s right.
George Hall: Are you a bar soap guy?
Scott Pruim: Oh, yeah.
George Hall: Because it lasts forever. You still have the Ivory from when you were like, 18.
Scott Pruim: Yeah. And my, the co-host on the internal podcast we do says bar soaps only for serial killers.
George Hall: All right. Let me ask you. Are you a luffa guy or a washcloth guy?
Scott Pruim: I gotta go washcloth.
George Hall: Yeah, same here.
Scott Pruim: And then part of it goes back to the same kind of thing as the bar soap. You have to keep buying luffas, and you just wash a washcloth.
George Hall: And it’s like sandpaper. It hurts. It does, right? Okay.
Scott Pruim: Gentle skin for guys.
George Hall: Yes. Totally.
Scott Pruim: So George, thank you for doing this. I appreciate it. We’ll put some information out there about LINQ as well.
George Hall: I love it.
Scott Pruim: But thank you.
George Hall: I appreciate it. Thanks man.
Scott Pruim: Yeah. Take care.