We had the good fortune of connecting with Atta Tarki and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Atta, what makes you happy? Why?
Positive ripples. I try to think about the impact I’m having – in my personal life, my work and my volunteer activities – in terms of the ripples I’m putting into motion. Whenever I can notice that someone is continuing a positive ripple I was part of putting into motion, I feel tremendous joy. Why? I think I realized this at my son’s daycare. They were having a community sing day and they sang a song called the Magic Penny. It’s one of the lines from that song that has stayed with me and I feel it’s completely accurate: “Love is something if you give it away, You end up having more.”
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
When I started my executive search practice, very few people believed I could make a living out of convincing hiring managers that their intuition was leading them to making poor hiring decisions. I was, however, convinced that systematic processes that rely on evidence-based recruiting practices lead to better outcomes. Now, ten years later it’s very satisfying for me to see that we have supported over 400 private equity and venture capital firms in making better hiring decisions.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I would start the mornings with a hike. Most of my friends are surprised to see how much greenery there is in LA. My favorite hikes are probably the Temescal Canyon Hike and the Will Rogers State Historic Park Hike. On the way back, we would pick up an amazing doughnut or two and some coffee at Sidecar, next to Reed Park on 7th & Wilshire. What’s the point of exercising if you can’t enjoy a treat once in a while? We would then grab lunch at one of LA’s rooftop restaurants. Do you notice a pattern here? I enjoy having good views of the city and soaking in the sun. Proper Hotel in Santa Monica and Hotel Erwin in Venice have two amazing roof top restaurants. In the afternoons, we would see if we could help volunteer at BeautifyEarth.org to help add some color and joy to a neighborhood or a local school by installing a beautiful mural. And in the evenings, we would explore LA’s incredible food scene. Genwa is a classic if you want to try Korean BBQ. Attari Grill is my favorite Persian restaurant. And Forma has hands down the best Italian food in LA.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Wow, what a great question! I can’t but help to think of Mister Rogers, who in his acceptance speech of the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Emmy’s asked the audience “Would you just take, along with me, 10 seconds to think of the people who have helped you become who you are. Those who have cared for you and wanted what was best for you in life.” In my case, the list of the people who deserve credit in my story is too long to go over here. One person who deserves a special shoutout is my editor at Harvard Business Review, Eben Harrell. As an ESL while my English was not polished enough to express my thoughts at many other top-tier business outlets at the time, Eben dug deeper into my ideas and helped me express them in a crisper way. Now I have published a book through a major publisher and half a dozen HBR pieces. I will say that having lived and worked in six countries, I’m amazed by how welcoming and giving Americans are.
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