Michal Toman,

Managing Director, Engage Advisory & Founder of EVOLVE! Summit

1. Do you remember a time when you were happiest as a child? Where were
you, who were you with and what were you doing?

Fishing with my friends. I really loved fishing when I was a kid and spent most of my free time by rivers and lakes having lots of fun with my friends. Fishing remained my biggest hobby up till now and keeping me happy (as not the only thing now) since my childhood.

2. Who was your favourite teacher at school? What did you learn from that

He was my teacher of Physical Education at secondary school and he was just great. He treated us with respect, supported each of us and most importantly we enjoyed lots of fun together. I learned from him that respect must be well deserved no matter if you have a formal authority or not. And you know what? His greatest hobby was to take part on TV knowledge competitions so you may have seen him on TV😊

3. What habit or behaviour or belief have you recently acquired? Why is it now in your life?

Patience and ability to work in a difficult-to-predict environment. It is of course connected to all the lockdowns we have been through during last year. I realised there come moments when you just have to slow down and enjoy the time together with my family.

4. Name a well-known person you admire and explain why you hold them high esteem?

Tomas Halik. He may not be that well known to people outside CEE but Tomas Halik is a Catholic Priest, philosopher and professor at the Charles University in Prague. I am atheist so it might seem unlikely for me to admire a priest but Tomas Halik deals with lots of issues that we face as society and he does that in such a unique way. Have you ever experienced that someone was able to explain things in a way so obvious that all of a sudden they make complete sense? That is Tomas Halik. I am so sorry he decided not to run for president in 2018.

5. If you wrote a ‘user manual’ for how people should interact with you, what would be the top three things they should know?

Be nice to me and treat me with respect😊 and then just be yourself.

6. What is your untrainable superpower?

Sometimes I feel I can see behind the corner. You know, it is something that chess players do a lot, the ability to see what happens next. It gives me extra time to reconsider my options.

7. On what topic would you never make a joke? Why?

On topics that I feel are sensitive to people around me. It may be things they believe in as well as pets they have.

8. What do you think is acceptable today but will become taboo tomorrow?

Smoking amongst non-smokers😊 Thanks to the EU it is not happening in restaurants anymore but you can still encounter situations when a smoker smokes amongst I think that generally smoking will become less trendy and there will be much fewer smokers in future.

9. What’s the last image on your camera roll? Care to explain?

My daughter with our dog Monty during one of the online school lessons during the latest lockdown. To be precise, this photo was shot during a break between lessons😊

10. What’s your favourite meal? Can you say why?

Buchtičky se šodó (do not ask me to translate this into English😊) – it was a popular meal of my childhood that is so difficult to find in today´s restaurants.

11. If you were to own a bar, and you could design it how you wanted, what would it look like?

I always liked student bars and pubs. I do not like posh and high-street restaurants but if it is my choice to choose a place to go for a beer I always prefer to go to places where students and young people gather. It just has a different vibe and people are much more approachable and open to any kind of discussions.

12. Which fictional villain do you find yourself sympathising with most? Why?

Sheldon J. Plankton in Spongebob Squarepants. Villain no.1 of all the characters but still awkward, clumsy and funny at the same time.

13. What’s the best piece of professional advice you’ve ever been given?

It was from Scott Love, my friend and a great US headhunter. It was after 10 years in third-party recruitment business and I remember I felt my recruitment skills were deteriorating because at that time I was finding myself in situations when I was not fighting for my candidates to accept offers from my side and instead I was advising them to accept offers from other companies. The reason was that I simply felt those ones were better for them. I remember I was talking to Scott how insecure I feel about my recruitment skills when I am advising my candidates not to accept my offers and he told me these exact words: „Congrats, Michal. You have just made it to a complete new recruitment level because you are willing to sacrifice you fee for the good of the candidate“

14. What's a skill that isn’t on your resume, but your former bosses would
recognize as one of the reasons you are successful?

Resilience and positive thinking. Recruitment and headhunting is about lots of ups-and-downs. One day the world is yours and the other day everything is getting wrong. I was always strong in overcoming obstacles and moments where others would try to get up and motivate themselves again. I was still running no matter what obstacle I faced.

15. What role do you find yourself playing when you join a newly formed team? Can you explain why this happens?

Probably the role of a listener. I am a natural introvert and always prefer to listen first. This also helps me better assess where and how I can help the team.

16. What’s one industry challenge you don’t actually think will ever get solved?

I am afraid it will be the more suppliers working on one position at the same time and the success fee model in contingency recruitment. I have written a lot about why I feel these two things do not have positive impact on quality of third-party recruitment services and was also hoping some time it might vanish from the market but more and more I start to understand that there will still be companies preferring this irrespective of the low quality they receive because the first thing is the cost.

17. Name one person from your professional life who has had an extraordinary impact on your career. What did they do and what did you learn from that person?

I think it was Greg Savage. Greg shaped my recruitment habits and values for so many years. I had this awesome privilege to get to know with Greg in person later on during one of the EVOLVE! Masterclass sessions in CZ and Slovakia I had a chance to spend the whole week with him and talk to him about every aspect of recruitment business. Fortunately for me it was during the time when we were starting our own headhunting company Engage Advisory so it was also Greg who helped a lot with his insights.

18. What is the number one thing you would recommend every person in the world to practice from now on in order to increase their happiness and wellbeing?

Be more emphatic, try to feel what the others feel. It might take asking some more questions, investigating more about one´s opinion and its construction but take your time. In this quick world we tend to create quick impressions and so many things are lost just because we do not try enough.

19. If you could add a question for the next person to answer, what would it be?

Have you found yourself in a totally awkward situation? What happened?

20. Who would you recommend to do the next 20 Questions With … ?

Well, from people outside CZ I would definitely do one with Scott Love, he can explain things from our industry in the way no-one else can do. At the same time not that many people know him in Europe. When it comes to CEE, I would go for Petr Skondrojanis. You will have lots of fun with this guy.

Thank you to Michal Toman for taking 20 Questions for The Brainfood Tribune.

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