The Birth of Excellence: The Founding of the Pinnacle Society in 1989

In 1989, Tony Byrne, the premier international recruiting industry trainer of the time and a group of talented recruiters, including Terry Carver, Mike Goldman, Diana Gazzolo, Richie Harris, Emma Jacobs, Mike Gutowski, Bill Vick, Bob Klevin, Ben Meador and about 20 initial members, came together with a shared vision to elevate the standards of their industry. This article explores the founding of the Pinnacle Society and the instrumental role played by these founding members in establishing an organization that would set new benchmarks for excellence in recruiting.

A Vision for Excellence: As the 1980s marked a period of growth and transformation in the recruitment industry, led by the introduction of computers, the internet and mobile phones, the internationally acclaimed recruiting industry trainer Tony Byrne, along with like-minded highly successful recruiters, recognized the need to create an organization that would foster excellence and collaboration among top-performing recruiters. These founding members shared a common belief that by raising the standards of the profession, they could positively impact the entire recruitment industry.

Forming the Pinnacle Society: With their shared vision, the founding members  decided to establish the Pinnacle Society in 1989. They envisioned a prestigious community, meeting twice a year, which would recognize and promote the best recruiters in the field. The Society would serve as a platform for collaboration, knowledge sharing, and professional development.

The initial organizational meeting was held in St. Louis and the first formal meeting, to choose the board and begin creating the bylaws, was held in Houston at The Woodlands.  Terry Carver, a respected leader in the industry, was chosen as the society’s first president for a two-year term due to his exemplary track record and commitment to excellence. Carver brought valuable experience and a passion for driving positive change to the role, becoming a key figure in shaping the society’s early years. Mike Goldman was chosen as the first VP and subsequently served as the group’s second president, serving two 2-year terms along with Diana Gazzolo as his VP and subsequent third president.  With the economic downturn of the early 1990s, Pinnacle almost disappeared.  However, Goldman initiated an email blitz to the members to restart the organization and it got back on track.  With Gail Kaplan joining the Society, she took over the successful leadership as hospitality chair for multiple decades as “Queen of Hospitality.”

Early meetings: Pinnacle met twice a year, in Spring and Fall.  With a small initial group, it was a more informal structure.  Topics the attendees wanted to cover were decided at the beginning by listing them on a flip board.  Topics were primarily desk-running subjects while Thursdays were reserved for management issues.  It was rare to deal with general business-growth subjects.  The topics were fluid and could be changed as the attendees preferred.  The president “ran” the meetings which was a challenge given the “aggressively communicative” nature of such high-achievement recruiters.  At least one member would present a chosen topic at each meeting.

The Pinnacle Society’s Impact: From its inception, the Pinnacle Society aimed to create a benchmark of excellence for recruiters. By establishing rigorous membership criteria, the society ensured that only the most accomplished recruiters gained entry. This exclusivity created a tight-knit community of professionals who were committed to raising the bar in their industry.

The Society quickly gained recognition and became a trusted resource for clients and candidates alike. Its members, including the founding members, consistently demonstrated exceptional performance and ethical standards, inspiring confidence, and trust.

Under the leadership of these founding members, the Pinnacle Society provided a platform for collaboration and knowledge exchange. Members could share best practices, innovative strategies, and industry insights, fostering continuous growth and improvement.  And, most importantly, we all became friends.

Conclusion: The founding of the Pinnacle Society in 1989 marked a significant milestone in the recruitment industry. Through the dedication and vision of these founding members, this exclusive society was established to raise the standards of the profession and promote excellence among recruiters. Over the years, the Pinnacle Society has continued to thrive, attracting exceptional talent, and serving as a beacon of excellence in the recruitment field. The legacy of these founding members lives on as their vision continues to shape the future of recruitment, inspiring generations of professionals to reach new heights of achievement. 

Let's aim higher together.