1777 – How to Separate the Best from the Rest with William Vanderbloemen

In this episode of the Thoughtful Entrepreneur, your host Josh Elledge speaks to the CEO & Founder of Vanderbloemen Search Group, William Vanderbloemen.

Vanderbloemen wide

William's journey is a testament to the power of diverse experiences. His transition from being a pastor to working for a Fortune 200 company equipped him with a unique perspective that ultimately led to the creation of his search firm. Vanderbloemen Search Group is a beacon for churches, nonprofits, schools, and values-based businesses in their quest to find exceptional talent. 

William's firm is built on the premise that the best candidates reveal themselves within the first five minutes of an interaction, a principle guiding his approach to identifying standout individuals.

William shed light on the 12 data-driven habits that are the cornerstone of his book. These habits are not just theoretical concepts; they are actionable practices backed by data and proven to elevate individuals above the rest. These habits' simplicity yet the profound impact can transform how leaders operate, and businesses succeed.

William underscored the significance of responding quickly in today's fast-paced world. He shared compelling examples and statistics illustrating how a prompt and intentional reply can forge stronger relationships and set you apart in a saturated market. While simple to adopt, this habit can be a game-changer for anyone looking to make a mark.

William generously invited leaders and professionals to take advantage of the over 4000 free resources on the Vanderbloemen website. These resources are designed to assist with team building, leadership development, and the nuances of running a values-based business. For those in leadership roles seeking the best team talent, William's invitation is a call to action to elevate their hiring process.

Key Points from the Episode:

  • William Vanderbloemen's career and establishment of Vanderbloemen Search Group
  • Inspiration behind the book “Be the Unicorn: 12 Data-Driven Habits that Separate the Best from the Rest”
  • Quick identification of standout individuals in initial meetings.
  • Responsiveness as a key to relationship-building and market differentiation.
  • Application of these habits in leadership and customer service roles.
  • William's website provides 4000+ free resources on team and leadership development.

About William Vanderbloemen:

William Vanderbloemen is a notable figure in executive search and team consulting. He founded Vanderbloemen Search Group 15 years ago, a firm specializing in identifying top talent for various teams, managing succession plans, and offering consultation on team-related matters. This year marks a significant milestone for the firm, completing their 3,000th executive search.

Before establishing his company, Vanderbloemen gained valuable insights into executive search methodologies under the guidance of a mentor with over 25 years of experience in high-level executive search. This mentorship exposed him to the best corporate practices and strategies, particularly those utilized by the globally recognized firm Russell Reynolds.

Additionally, Vanderbloemen has a background in religious leadership. He previously served as a Senior Pastor at one of the largest Presbyterian Churches in the USA, adding a unique dimension to his professional profile. This combination of religious leadership and expertise in executive search and team management makes William Vanderbloemen a distinguished professional.

About Vanderbloemen Search Group:

Vanderbloemen Search Group is a distinctive organization serving various values-based entities, including Churches, Schools, Nonprofits, Family Offices, and Businesses aligned with specific values. They specialize in various services such as hiring, compensation analysis, succession planning, and enhancing organisational diversity.

Founded on the principle that their mission is driven by the missions of the organizations they serve, Vanderbloemen began as a concept at the founder's dining room table. It has since evolved into a robust company with a team of 40 people. This growth reflects their commitment to providing tailored people solutions to teams with a greater purpose.

Operating on a global scale, Vanderbloemen Search Group prides itself on aligning its services with the specific needs of its clients. This approach ensures that the solutions they offer are effective and resonate deeply with the core values and objectives of the organizations they assist. Their focus on mission-driven solutions has established Vanderbloemen as a key player in supporting organizations with a higher purpose.

Tweetable Moments:

02:56 – “Churches move so slowly, and I thought, well, this is kind of silly. I wonder if we could build something like what the business world has for churches to find their pastor.”

Apply to be a Guest on The Thoughtful Entrepreneur:

Links Mentioned in this Episode:

Want to learn more? Check out Vanderbloemen Search Group website at

Check out William Vanderbloemen book Be the Unicorn: 12 Data-Driven Habits that Separate the Best Leaders from the Rest at

Check out Vanderbloemen Search Group on LinkedIn at

Check out Vanderbloemen Search Group on Twitter at

Check out Vanderbloemen Search Group on Instagram at

Check out Vanderbloemen Search Group on Facebook at

Check out William Vanderbloemen on LinkedIn at

Check out William Vanderbloemen on Twitter at 

Check out William Vanderbloemen on Instagram at  

Check out William Vanderbloemen on Facebook at 

More from UpMyInfluence:

We are actively booking guests for our The Thoughtful Entrepreneur. Schedule HERE.

Are you a 6-figure consultant? I’ve got high-level intros for you. Learn more here.

What is your #1 Lead Generation BLOCKER? Take my free quiz here.

Want to learn more about all the podcasts managed by UpMyInfluence? Opt in here.


Josh (00:00:04) - Hey there, thoughtful listener. Would you like consistent and predictable sales activity with no spam and no ads? I'll teach you step by step how to do this, particularly if you're an agency owner, consultant, coach, or B2B service provider. What I teach has worked for me for more than 15 years and has helped me create more than $10 million in revenue. Just head to up my and watch my free class on how to create endless high ticket sales appointments. You can even chat with me live and I'll see and reply to your messages. Also, don't forget the thoughtful entrepreneur is always looking for guests. Go to up my and click on podcast. We'd love to have you. With us right now it's William Vanderbilt. And William, you are the founder and CEO of Vanderbloemen Search Group. You're found on the Now for our listeners, I'm going to spell this for you. And also I assume Dutch. Right, William.

William (00:01:16) - Yeah, but the cool thing is you don't have to spell it.

William (00:01:19) - Josh. My name. The only reason we picked my name for the company is the search engine. Guys said I gave him, like, 300 domain names that I'd bought because I have a problem buying. I need to get in a regular recovery group for this kind of thing. I own way too many as here are 300. Pick the best one. You just can't name the thing after me. And they came back and said so the good news, bad news. We found the right one. Yeah. Bad news. It's your last name. I'm like, guys, you know I don't want to be the lid. They're like, no, no, no, no, no. Your last name is so messed up, people can misspell it into Google a hundred different ways and it will feed back to you. So you don't have to spell it. Just try. You'll get there, I promise you. Just anything like.

Josh (00:02:01) - Vanderbloemen Onion, you know, and that's, you know.

William (00:02:04) - Anything you want, it will show up.

Josh (00:02:07) - Yeah. So if you don't want to do the guessing to our friend that's listening to us, just click on the show notes. We've got a direct link right there. But William, I'm excited to have this conversation. I love what you do. Why don't you maybe just share a little bit about the impact you have and who you work with?

William (00:02:22) - Yeah. So I've weird career path. Years and years ago I started as a pastor and I don't know if good at that is the thing you say with pastors, but I ended up going up the ranks fairly quickly. I was at a very large church at a very young age as the head pastor. Um, now fast forward, going to the business world. Um, the big fortune 200 company I was working for, I decided it's time to find a new CEO. They went and hired a search firm, which I'd never heard of, to help with the search. They were done in 90 days with a new CEO.

William (00:02:56) - Uh, churches move. So slowly, so, so slowly. And I was at a really good one. And they move slowly. And I thought, well, this is kind of silly. I wonder if we could build something like what the business world has for churches to find their pastor. And then we branched out to nonprofits. We branched out to schools. We branched out to values based businesses. For lack of a simpler way of saying it, the chick fil A's of the world, um, uh, and, uh, it's been a kick. We've been 15 years at it, and it's, uh, it's been a lot of fun.

Josh (00:03:28) - You know, William, I wanted to also point out, I'm sorry, I forgot to mention this in the intro, but you're also the author of the book Be the Unicorn 12 Data Driven Habits That Separate the Best from the Rest. You have my attention. Tell me more about the book. Uh, and by the way, looks like it just launched as of when we're recording this, so congratulations.

William (00:03:50) - Thank you, thank you. Yeah. So, you know, all books start with something. That's a question the author wants answered. Right. Uh, because you don't do books to make money. Not unless your name ends in Rowling. And you write about wizards. You know, that's about it. We for years I've wondered, Josh, you've probably had this happen. You meet somebody and within five minutes. It doesn't happen often, but you need somebody. And within five minutes you're saying this one's special, this one's different. And when I was a younger leader, I'd just try and hire him, which is not smart. And they're not always the best fit. But what is it that's going on? I mean, I got a lot to learn, but I'm not super gullible. So how is it that this person has grabbed my attention that I'll sign up for their email list, that I want to hire them, that I want to have coffee? What are they doing? That's a question, you know, because if I could figure out what that is, man, I could learn to spot people quicker.

William (00:04:43) - I'd be a better search person. Fast forward 13 years. We get to the pandemic. Every one of our clients is shut down indefinitely, which will change your calendar quite a bit. Um, maybe some of your listeners had similar experiences, but we got to sit back during, uh, really weird time and say, well, okay, we've been doing this. We've grown every year, 13 years. What have we learned? And I'm back to this question. What is it that people do in the first five minutes that make you an instant fan? And we realized that in all of our searches, the very, very best candidates in a search to get a long format, face to face interview. Right. It's like three hours long. We track it. We realized during the pandemic we've done 30,000 of those now of the best, of the best. And so we're like, a lot of these people are the within five minutes they had our attention. And so we said, well, okay, do they have anything in common.

William (00:05:39) - And the answer was yes. Mhm. And the list was very, very clear and consistent and super surprising. Nothing I guessed. And when we started uncovering these similarities among these unicorn candidates, we were like we gotta turn that in. To a book. And so there you go. The unicorn came and it's all the things they had in common were so interesting. Josh. Wow. I figured it would be. They were also really smart, like high IQ, you know? Uh, and then I thought, well, maybe, maybe they all had a really good education and they're well connected from an Ivy League or something like. Nope, that wasn't it. Maybe there are certain age. Nope. It cut across age, gender, socioeconomics. Uh, what it ended up being were 12. Habits that these unicorns all seem to be naturally pointed toward, and it was basically how they treat other humans. Um, and it's very intentional and very easy to learn, but very unusual for people to practice.

William (00:06:47) - So that's where we came up with the book. Uh, we thought we were doing a very selfish project to uncover a better way for us to do searches. What we found was it's not traits that these people have, it's habits that they practice and habits that can be taught. So it's, uh, be the unicorn. 12 data driven habits that Separate the best Leaders from the rest. And the list of habits probably won't surprise you, but the fact that it's backed by so much research and data, yeah, makes it an unusually helpful list. So that you practice these 12 habits. You will rise out of the crowd, you will stand out. You will be one that people are like, I want to hire them. I want on their email list. I don't know what they did in five minutes, but this is amazing. And yeah, we thought what was going to be selfish. We discovered, oh, now it's not how do we spot a unicorn? But we can teach people to become one.

Josh (00:07:41) - Become unicorns. Yeah, right.

William (00:07:43) - So let's make it a book and let's make it available people to try and level up.

Josh (00:07:47) - So, uh, you've already got some great traction, even this book just published as. And when we're recording this a couple days ago, you got a lot of five star reviews on this. Um, congratulations on the launch. It's available on hardcover, Kindle. And thank you so much for producing an audiobook.

William (00:08:06) - Yep, yep. And I actually read it. So if you don't like my voice, won't do the audiobook.

Josh (00:08:11) - Yeah, okay.

William (00:08:13) - I have a face made for audiobooks. Josh. Yeah.

Josh (00:08:18) - So, uh, let's you're welcome to, you know, answer this. Anyone? I want to know what the 12 data driven habits are? Yeah, well.

William (00:08:27) - You know, if you looked at the table of contents, obviously there are, I think 14 chapters, 12 of them are devoted to each, you know, one for each habit. If you look at the list, you're going to say, duh, I could have written that.

William (00:08:38) - Well, maybe some of them are fairly intuitive, but the fact that we actually distilled from data like, oh, this is what they do that makes things different, makes it fairly special. In fact, the alternate title for the book was going to be well, I guess mom was right, because it's a lot of the stuff I heard growing up. You know, like, for instance, we call it the fast in the book, but it's really the responsive. Do you get back to people and do you get back to them quickly and intentionally? That is something that unicorns, the very best of the best, almost always do. They're almost obsessed with it. It's something that the rest of us are horrible at. It's not a you must be six feet tall to get this done, or you must be, you know, run the 40 in some ridiculous number. It's just, do you get back to people? And most people are terrible at it. We looked at stats from sales and marketing companies about how quickly salespeople who are paid on commission actually get back to leads.

William (00:09:35) - It's frightening how bad the response time is. We even looked at eHarmony like the old school version of all the dating apps that are out now, like the OG, like this is a database of essentially lonely people that really want to find someone to spend their life with, and they'll get an email from eHarmony saying, we found a few people you might want to call, and people wait forever to get back to them. It's amazing how easy this one tweak in your habits can make you, one that stands out of the crowd. And I profess to that we started our company with nothing, and we had six kids and a house we could barely afford. And, uh, I got back to people fast because if we did get business, we didn't eat. Right. And I just, I kept getting back to people quickly. And over time you're like, wow, you know, you get back, nobody gets back to us. And I thought that was just kind of weird. But now the data shows, actually that's a really uncommon habit.

William (00:10:34) - That's an easy one to adopt.

Josh (00:10:36) - Yeah. Isn't that blow your mind like I've seen that like in follow ups. Let's say you go to a really great event and it's amazing. It blows my mind. You know, it's like you could let's say you meet like 2 or 3, like just amazing potential partners or customers or whatever. And the people who don't follow up on that, it's like, what are you doing? It's like, you know, and they're like, yeah. But then I got back and I started getting busy and start putting out fires. I'm like, okay, that's not ideal.

William (00:11:07) - Three days ago, we've split some season tickets for the Astros. We live in Houston for years with 3 or 4 families, and now a company likes it so much we may just get some tickets on our own. Right. And so I emailed our ticket guy that we've had for many, many years and said, hey, I think I'd like to buy more season tickets. Could you get back to me? I hadn't heard from him yet.

William (00:11:27) - Like. I want to buy something from you. Would you please call me? Here is my mobile. Just click here. Yeah. And? And I've done the same thing, but, like, it's the most easy tweak I know to your habit that will cause you to stand out of the crowd. And that's just one of the 12. But it's an easy one to adapt.

Josh (00:11:46) - Leaders in the service industry, I got to tell you, especially home service industry. Wow, that blows my mind what a low bar it is to succeed in home services, for example. But I can't tell you the number of times that I've called on a contractor. They don't call me back or, you know, I say, okay, I'm ready to buy, you know, when can we get you out here? And like, like, you know, just nothing. Crickets. I'm like, man. So it's like, you know, my son, who's now in college and then my high school senior son, that's one thing, you know.

Josh (00:12:20) - That alone is what I drilled into them. I said, listen, if you ever have a client opportunity, you got to be fast. You got to be first, and you got to show them that you really, really want to be able to serve them. And if you do that, that's, you know, you're already a I had to probably 80% of the field just based on that alone.

William (00:12:39) - You know, this term inbound marketing basically like fill out a form of my website and someone will get back with you kind of thing. Yeah. What you're whatever you're buying. Uh, massive study of people who pay a lot of money for inbound marketing software. And the study showed that if you get back to a lead within a minute of receiving that lead, you have a 98% chance of talking to the person, 98%. If you wait 24 hours from when you receive the form to calling, it's less than 1% chance that you'll ever talk to the person. And the average response time of the companies that were participating is 42 hours.

William (00:13:19) - It's not hard. It just requires some very intentional effort to be responsive. And the unicorns naturally do it. But I think it's about the book is every single chapter is okay. Here's a case study on someone who's really responsive. Here's what we learned from all the unicorns we interviewed that are responsive. Here's what you can do personally. Easy steps for you to make yourself more responsive and stand out in the crowd.

Josh (00:13:49) - This is incredible, William. Again, the book Be the Unicorn 12 Data Driven Habits That Separate the Best Leaders from the Rest. It's on Amazon right now. You can get to it by going to your website as well. Van der And again we've got the spelling for that in the show notes. You know, we just scratched the surface of number one of 12. I cannot wait to listen. I'm going to get the your voice is great. I'm going to listen to the audiobook. But really I can't wait to listen to this one. It's going to be a lot of fun.

Josh (00:14:21) - Um, William, who should reach out to you on Who do you work with and how might they know that they're ready to have a conversation, or at least start tapping into the resources that you provide?

William (00:14:32) - Yeah, I would say if you're in a leadership position in any kind of company where you've got to build and run and keep a great team, go to our website. There are over 4000 free resources there to help you. Like how do I run a mid-year review? How do I fire a best friend? How do I, you know, there's all kinds of treasure trove of things that we've built over the 15 years we've been doing this. So that should help anybody. If you're in a values based business and you need the very best unicorn for your team, give us a call. We can probably help you out. We've got a lot to learn, but we've learned a lot and would love to help you. But more than anything, just come to the site and, you know, use those resources.

William (00:15:15) - We put them there to give away and try and help folks.

Josh (00:15:18) - Yeah, excellent. William Vanderbloemen again, founder CEO of Vanderbloemen. Uh, what did you call, um. Vanderbloemen?

William (00:15:26) - Yeah, we just went t Vanderbloemen. It's just. Okay. That's what it is. So. Yeah. All right.

Josh (00:15:32) - Well, you're either founder and CEO of your last name. That's it.

Josh (00:15:37) - Well, you've been great, haven't you? Great conversation. Can't wait to listen to the rest of this.

William (00:15:41) - Thanks so much, Josh. I appreciate you having me.

Josh (00:15:49) - Thanks for listening to the Thoughtful Entrepreneur show. If you are a thoughtful business owner or professional who would like to be on this daily program, please visit up my influence common Guest. If you're a listener, I'd love to shout out your business to our whole audience for free. You can do that by leaving a review on Apple Podcasts or join our Listener Facebook group. Just search for the Thoughtful Entrepreneur and Facebook. I'd love, even if you just stopped by to say hi.

Josh (00:16:21) - I'd love to meet you. We believe that every person has a message that can positively impact the world. We love our community who listens and shares our program every day. Together we are empowering one another as thoughtful entrepreneurs. Hit subscribe so that tomorrow morning. That's right. Seven days a week you are going to be inspired and motivated to succeed. I promise to bring positivity and inspiration to you for around 15 minutes each day. Thanks for listening and thank you for being a part of the Thoughtful Entrepreneur movement.

We're actively booking guests for our DAILY #podcast: The Thoughtful #Entrepreneur. Happy to share your story with our 120K+ audience.Smiling face with halo


Apple iTunes podcast