#19 – Going from good to great – with Nick Johnston

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Nick Johnston, Director at Recruitment International Asia, founded Wall Street Associates in Japan in 1999. It became the first international recruitment company to receive the ISO 9001:2000 certification in Japan and eleven years later was purchased by en-japan, the premium Japanese job portal, and rebranded as Enworld. Nick stepped down as CEO in June 2012, by which time Enworld had over 180 staff in offices in Tokyo, Yokohama, Nagoya, Osaka, Singapore, Hong Kong, Seoul and Sydney.

Nick now focuses on growing Recruitment International in Asia, as well as private investments mainly based in Myanmar.

Click to tweet: Nick Johnston shares his incredible journey on Recruiters Live Lounge today!

Favourite success quote

  • Nick’s favourite success quote comes Ray Kroc of MacDonald’s fame – “You’re only as good as the people you hire”

Biggest failure faced in recruitment

  • Nick feel’s he faced real failure in his career was when after ten great years of his business steadily growing and making profit he promoted one of his non-exec Directors to, COO and then CEO. Nick let him ‘get on with it’ only realising he had taken his eye off the ball when expecting another year of growing profit, especially because the top line sales had risen by $5 million, and he found that profit had gone from $2 million to just $350,000.  Watch the full interview now to find out what lessons Nick took from this experience.

Recruitment ‘eureka’ moment

  • Nick’s lightbulb moment came to him in 2003 when he had just 30 staff and was wondering how to take it to the next level. He went on holiday and picked up a copy of Jim Colin’s book ‘Good to Great‘ for some pool-side reading.  He couldn’t put it down for 2 days and went back to work thinking “Good to Great is about getting the best people, having discipline, and having a clear goal. We want to be the best in the world at something, not the biggest, but the best. Why can’t we be the best in what we do in Japan?”

The crystal ball

  • Over the next five years Nick thinks that recruitment business owners will find better ways of fulfilling front and back office functions – using new tools available to them such as Cube19 for productivity monitoring or companies such as The Recruiter Link for sourcing new support services – so that they can boost sales and reduce costs.

Best piece of business advice

  • After the sale of Nick’s business and he was looking at investments one of his friends said “Just get income, steady income. Don’t worry about investments where you’re going to knock it out of the park. Look for steady income.”

Best business resource

The recruitment analytics and gamification tool ‘Cube 19

Best business book

Practice what you Preach‘ by David H Maister

Interview Links

Find out more about Nick and contact him via his LinkedIn profile.

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Interview sponsor






The name Deleso derives from the terms that encapsulate what we strive  to deliver to the business owner “Delegated Solutions”, enabling  recruitment owners and managers to focus their skills and efforts in areas  they would get the most rewards, namely sales. Deleso supports clients by  providing a tailor made service from outsourced Back Office functions right the way through to Director level advice and consultancy.  By removing the burden of Back Office tasks and development from talented and motivated professionals we see that the resulting energy and focus transforms the performance of any recruitment business.

Go to www.deleso.co.uk/reclivelounge to find out more and start talking to them today

In need of some FREE resources?

1) Click here to download Roy’s free eBook ’39 Must-read Books to Ignite You and Your Recruitment Business’

2) Click here to watch Roy’s free 3-part video series for recruitment business owners

3) Click here to watch free recruitment training videos on Roy’s YouTube channel