Seth Ellison

Seth Ellison (Nike, Levi’s, Quiksilver) on his Favorite Interview Questions, Cultivating Internal Talent, the Elements of Successful Talent Strategy, and More

Seth Ellison has led teams at iconic brands like Nike, Levi Strauss & Co., and Quiksilver. Today, he joins Roy to discuss how these roles have shaped his hiring philosophy and what we can learn from the talent strategy of top apparel companies.

Seth has decades of experience in brand building and merchandising, having led and built global teams for legendary brands. Seth’s extensive resume includes the growth of large-scale DTC and wholesale businesses across international markets, industry leading corporate strategy, widely successful C-Suite leadership, extensive team building and brand development, and high level execution across diverse consumer segments.

Listen to the podcast

Highlights from our conversation

  • Lifelong lessons from Seth’s early days in the surf apparel business (4:15)
  • How his time at Nike shaped his hiring philosophy (9:05)
  • Developing internal talent vs. seeking external talent (11:55)
  • Opportunities and challenges he experienced during Nike’s acquisition of Hurley (15:26)
  • Seth’s process for making decisions on important hires (18:13)
  • Seth’s interview strategy and criteria (22:35) 
  • The elements of successful hires vs. hiring mistakes (25:22)
  • Advice for young and emerging leaders (27:31)


[00:00:00] Roy Notowitz: Hello and welcome to How I Hire, the podcast that taps directly into the best executive hiring advice and insights. I’m Roy Notowitz, founder and CEO of Noto Group Executive Search. You can learn more about us at As a go-to firm for purpose-driven companies, we’ve been lucky to work with some of the world’s most inspiring leaders as they’ve tackled the challenge of building high performance leadership teams. Now I’m sitting down with some of these very people to spark a conversation about how to achieve success in hiring and create purposeful leadership for the next generation of companies. 

[00:00:42] Roy Notowitz: Today I’m joined by Seth Ellison, an accomplished leader with a wealth of experience in merchandising and brand building. Seth has successfully led international and domestic teams for iconic apparel companies like Nike, Levi’s, Perry, Ellis, Hurley, Quiksilver, and more. He has an impressive track record of growing direct to consumer and wholesale businesses across global markets, and sets a high bar for brand development, C-suite leadership, and corporate strategy.

[00:01:11] Roy Notowitz: Seth shares some great insight into the questions he likes to ask and what he listens for in interviews. We also discussed the importance of curiosity, trust, and courage in brand development, and how diverse teams make better decisions and drive better results, and much more. 

[00:01:29] Roy Notowitz: Seth, welcome to the podcast. It’s great to have you here today. I was just a kid when we worked together at Nike, and I remember how much time you invested in helping me understand the apparel product process and business so that I could do my job better. And you are always such a positive, motivating force and a great leader, so it’s an honor to have you on the podcast, and I look forward to this conversation.

[00:01:54] Seth Ellison: Thank you for having me, for reconnecting, for all the kind words up front, and having me on to discuss a topic I’m really passionate about. 

[00:02:03] Roy Notowitz: You’ve driven amazing results at several of the top apparel companies in the world. Can you take us through a few career highlights and the path that led you to where you are today?

[00:02:13] Seth Ellison: My career started by accident. Maybe it was fate, but definitely not planned. I was really fortunate to be able to attend Stanford for two years, but I dropped out when my scholarship ended, so I moved home. I went to work bartending and lifeguarding — honestly, two jobs no 19 year old kid should hold at the same time.

[00:02:32] Seth Ellison: I was really enjoying life, but I knew that I was really spinning my wheels. So I went to work for an uncle who started a small surf company. I thought that might be cool, and I’ve been blessed ever since with this career. I started running errands, working in the warehouse, working the cutting tables, learning production planning, and eventually spent several years in merchandising.

[00:02:53] Seth Ellison: Then I went on the road as a starving sales rep, and that forced me to work with customers and consumers each day. It was tough financially; I was working three jobs, but definitely an important turning point in my thinking about the business. I then joined Quiksilver as the head of merchandising and design when they were just starting to gain exposure as a brand.

[00:03:11] Seth Ellison: That was really my first brand building experience. Then I worked as a divisional president for Authentic Fitness, my first general management and full P&L experience. That eventually led to Nike during the 4 billion to 15 billion era, which included my first large scaling experience. My first international assignment, I was based in the Netherlands, and that was also my first general management and M&A experience.

[00:03:37] Seth Ellison: Then, 10 years ago, I joined Levi’s, which was a complete turnaround experience. I spent another eight years in Europe and eventually running a multi-billion dollar global P&L. This included 10 years of C-Suite experience. It’s funny for me because colleagues say that I’ve done a great job managing my career, but it’s never felt like that.

[00:03:56] Seth Ellison: I’ve been with companies one to two years, or seven to 12 years. I’ve always been curious to learn more and grow, and when I felt like I’d reached the end of an experience, I just started a new one. 

[00:04:07] Roy Notowitz: What a fascinating and incredibly successful career to hear you go through all those experiences. So, what lessons did you take from the early days working on the ground floor of the surf apparel business that served you as the leader throughout your career?

[00:04:24] Seth Ellison: There were really three big lessons for me. First, the brand, the consumer, and the team are sacred. But having these right ingredients led to the second lesson: you need to be courageous. At Quiksilver, 30 years ago, we were told if we launched a women’s range, it would kill our men’s business, so we launched Roxy anyway. 

[00:04:43] Seth Ellison: And then we were told we’d lose our specialty business if we went into department stores or opened our own stores, so we partnered with Nordstrom and created the Boardriders direct to consumer stores. Then we’re told we’d lose our hardcore surf position if we launched denim, but we launched Quiksilver Denim. We became an action sports company moving beyond surf. And then we were told we’d lose our way if we went public, and Quiksilver was the first publicly traded surf company.

[00:05:09] Seth Ellison: So it seems ridiculous today since these have been common and successful strategies with all action sports brands. But courage has served me well at Nike and Levi’s where you had to make courageous decisions, fighting to remain relevant with consumers, not being afraid to break the rules, or get out in front.

[00:05:27] Seth Ellison: And this remains valid, you know, if you’re an industry leader turning a brand around, you still have to be courageous — to continue to lead. And the third lesson is that success is so dependent upon brilliant execution. I knew it was important to be innovative, always appreciated great product design and creativity, but it’s all wasted energy without an understanding and appreciation of execution.

[00:05:52] Roy Notowitz: Speaking of being courageous, did that translate into what you looked for in leaders, and at what point in your career did you first start hiring and managing teams? 

[00:06:03] Seth Ellison: Quiksilver was growing rapidly, and I was responsible for merchandising and design, which is about 30 people in the US. But it was really trial and error leadership.

[00:06:14] Seth Ellison: I was learning, the entire company was learning. A lot of hiring was based on recommendations — who you knew — and, honestly, gut instinct. But our brand also attracted talented people, and we built a reputation for courage, for success. We were product and marketing led, we were values driven, and we took good care of our talent.

[00:06:34] Seth Ellison: So we were fortunate that so many talented people really wanted to join our adventure and our cast of characters, so they really came to us and that made it a lot easier. 

[00:06:45] Roy Notowitz: What experiences, or inspirational leaders, or people that you worked with helped to shape your hiring approach or philosophy? 

[00:06:52] Seth Ellison: Great question. I’ve had great mentors, and I’m not ashamed to leverage the best examples of their leadership, as well as learn from their flaws. Every leader has flaws or weaknesses. I had a quiver of great leaders at Nike from Phil Knight, Dr. Clarke, Charlie Denson. George Feldenkreis at Perry Ellis, Bob McKnight at Quiksilver, and Chip Bergh at Levi’s were all amazing leaders and mentors for me. 

[00:07:17] Seth Ellison: I’ve also learned from my peers, you know, you’re, you’re an example of that. As much as you said in the opening that I helped you learn the business, you helped me learn a lot about recruiting and HR, and so I’ve been surrounded by great sales, operation, marketing leaders, functional and finance leaders. Most recently, diversity, inclusion, data and analytics, E-commerce, digital marketing, but having so much talent that you’re sitting side by side with gives you an opportunity to learn.

[00:07:46] Seth Ellison: So Quiksilver, Nike, Levi’s were great learning meccas where I was able to sit next to experts, physically or virtually, and they had a tremendous impact on my career as a leader and C-suite executive. I’ve always enjoyed not being the expert or the most intelligent in the room, but knowing I can be a great leader if I just leverage my curiosity, my passion, and capacity.

[00:08:10] Roy Notowitz: Do you think having that foundation of what I’ll say is like more traditional sales, merchandising, product experience served you well as digital commerce and different business models started to come into play? Is there anything there that you can speak to?

[00:08:28] Seth Ellison: It does and it doesn’t. It gives you a good understanding of how important the consumers are, your customers.

[00:08:35] Seth Ellison: It gives you a great sense that the industry keeps evolving. But you have to be careful you don’t fall into the trap of either wanting things to go back to the old ways or legacy thinking and trying to hold things back. You know, in fact, today things are speeding up so rapidly, all, sort of, technology-enabled, that it’s so important for you as a leader to keep evolving constantly, and that could be either a scary thing or exciting thing, depending on your mindset. 

[00:09:05] Roy Notowitz: A lot of growth happened at Nike during the time you were there, and I’m curious how the Nike culture and values influenced your approach to hiring. 

[00:09:16] Seth Ellison: We were really fortunate, similar to Quiksilver, that so much talent was coming our way, but it really was a big change for me because, at Quiksilver, you could really make decisions by trial and error and gut instinct, whereas the business was so large at Nike and growing so fast that you really needed a formal talent evaluation process.

[00:09:39] Seth Ellison: And looking at even Nike circa 1996, things were relatively simple compared with hiring today. We appreciated the importance of good cultural fit, but we had to expand our definition, and Nike had to move beyond, sort of, this brotherhood of elite athletes and really start to appreciate diversification, industry experience, international talent.

[00:10:01] Seth Ellison: Now, all of this could be interconnected by an appreciation of sport as this core cultural component, but we had to create new tools, processes, terminology to evaluate talent. The other interesting challenge at Nike during that phase that was driven by this incredible growth was that you, as a leader, were probably only going to be in your position one to two years and have to be ready for your next move.

[00:10:26] Seth Ellison: So, in order for that to happen, you had to convince your boss that your organization was ready for the next leader. So you needed to identify a successor or two, have a robust succession plan, you know, you had to look at future potential — increasingly important for each of your team members — you needed to develop a strong team that could support this leader turnover, and you needed a process to develop your successor and other top talent.

[00:10:53] Seth Ellison: And if you didn’t have them inside, you had to have a great process of recruiting from the outside. And finally, you couldn’t do it alone.  Hiring included others in the process by design. And even at first, if you thought it was slower, you realize it’s actually faster and more effective, and this helps to offset bias. And, you know, it’s important you start with a specific, detailed brief, allowing HR to search and then narrow the candidate pool for you. I mean, this is where you and I used to work really closely together, and, as Russell Wilson says, “Preparation is the separation.” 

[00:11:28] Seth Ellison: So most of the top talent isn’t out looking for a career change at the same moment you’re looking to hire. So you need this plan to be able to look internally, look externally, think about diversity, and if you’re not preparing your internal talent, they’re going to leave because they’re thinking you’re going to pass them over.

[00:11:47] Seth Ellison: And so it’s equally important to make sure your hypos feel like they’re on the right career path and have good developmental plans. 

[00:11:55] Roy Notowitz: Do you have any examples of people who are high potential or people that you were able to identify as high potential future leaders? Any examples that you can point to or share of how you identified those individuals, or what you did to help them develop in their career so that they could move into the next role? 

[00:12:16] Seth Ellison: When I look at my career, one of the things I’m most proud of is that I’ve been able to identify talent both internally and externally, and then I’ve been able to keep those people growing.

[00:12:27] Seth Ellison: I take a lot of pride in the fact that I’ve been able to get them on a strong career path. It’s so multifaceted in what you’re looking for, and the interview questions that you might ask of external candidates, you’re constantly asking of your internal candidates as well, trying to evaluate their potential to move beyond, say, a geography, how they appreciate diversity, how their team feels about them, how they’re able to make the tough calls.

[00:12:55] Seth Ellison: Are they results oriented? Are they values driven? All those things that you would want today from a great external candidate, you have to be looking at your internal candidates and making sure they have all the ingredients. And if they don’t, you’ve got to make the early calls. That’s sometimes one of the toughest things to do is looking at your internal talent today and realizing that you have people who are contributing greatly to the organization today, but may not have the skills to be able to contribute tomorrow.

[00:13:24] Seth Ellison: But I think whether you’re looking at a Procter & Gamble, a Nike or Levi’s, all those companies have been able to create this balance between internal and external, and there is this heavy bias towards making sure that enough internal candidates are promoted so people don’t feel they’re being looked past.

[00:13:44] Roy Notowitz: You talked a little bit about how hiring evolved at Nike and other places that you’ve worked. Have you ever had any luck recruiting people from outside the apparel industry or from maybe a parallel consumer segment? And, if so, where and how did that happen? 

[00:14:00] Seth Ellison: I honestly believe that if you are looking at a new position or a gap that you’re trying to fill, that you should be looking at your best internal candidates for it.

[00:14:10] Seth Ellison:  I also believe that if you create strong teams internally, that makes it much easier for you to bring in somebody from the outside who has less direct apparel, or footwear, or equipment experience, or whatever those categories are because they’re supported with experts who can help them through a fast learning curve. 

[00:14:30] Seth Ellison: And then, what ends up happening is these leaders, whether they’re coming from, again, e-commerce, or tech, or marketing, an entire different industry, they’re going to bring new ideas and ways of doing things, and that’s incredibly healthy. So, again, it’s sort of this balance. Internal talent, new ideas and new thinking, building a more diverse team so that you’re able to leverage knowing that the more diverse teams make better decisions. It all goes back to building a great brief for your HR team to be able to start the process. 

[00:15:03] Roy Notowitz: I totally agree with that perspective, and I think it’s evident in how much Nike evolved in terms of diversity over the years.

[00:15:12] Roy Notowitz: It was a key focus early on to bring in lots of different types of candidates and talent, but it just became much more magnified, especially as the company became more global to have a talent pool that was also global. At the time you took over as president of Hurley, Nike didn’t have as much experience with acquisitions, and so what were the opportunities and challenges from a talent perspective as you reflect on your strategy for the business with Nike as the parent company? 

[00:15:42] Seth Ellison: Yeah, I think Hurley is a very interesting business case where, as you mentioned, Nike didn’t have a lot of experience with acquisitions at the time.

[00:15:52] Seth Ellison: The first thing you’ll learn is that trust is critical, and the trust has to come from both sides.

[00:15:58] Seth Ellison: And I was fortunate in the role I played to have the trust of Bob Hurley, who I’d known from the action sports industry, and having the trust from Nike. So trust on both sides of the acquisition is important. The other situation that I encountered, both at Hurley and some of the other roles I’ve had during my career, particularly in startups and turnarounds, is that existing employees fall into a few camps. 

[00:16:22] Seth Ellison: You’ve got the top talent who are really excited about the next chapter. They’re ready to learn and grow, but they’re also frustrated with weaker team members who may be holding their company or their brand back. Then you’ve got a second group who are top talent, but they may not be right for the next chapter, and the business is passing them by.

[00:16:42] Seth Ellison: They’re not upgrading their skills, they don’t have the capacity for the next level of business. And then you have a group that’s content just coming to work each day, assuming they’ll be there forever. 

[00:16:54] Seth Ellison: Finally, you have a group that’s completely disengaged, and, in some cases, they’ve had so many leaders come their way that they actually think they’ll simply just outlive you. So it’s really important, as a leader coming in, that you clearly state what your expectations are and letting them know you’re going to set the bar high, but you’re going to start setting the bar high for yourself to begin with.

[00:17:17] Seth Ellison: And then your first external hires and fires are critical to show that you walk the talk. These actions are so important to send messages to the team in terms of what’s valued, what’s appreciated, what’s not tolerated. And your top talent’s going to really appreciate this. In fact, they’ll learn from this, as well as respect you as a leader for making these tough calls. 

[00:17:40] Seth Ellison: They want to upgrade their skill sets, and they want to have leaders or mentors that they can learn from. So, if you want to be a successful company and industry leading, you’ve got to set your bar really high, and that means that you cannot afford to have team members who are disengaged, you can’t afford to have team members who aren’t upgrading their skills every year, and you, as a leader, had better be setting the pace. I mean, you need to show that you are going to grow as a leader every year, and upgrade your skills, and be better than you were the year before, or you shouldn’t have a place leading the organization.

[00:18:13] Roy Notowitz: How have you made decisions on important hires? What’s your process for sifting through all the inputs and feedback to land on the best decision or to empower people on your team to make the best hires? 

[00:18:25] Seth Ellison: First of all, specificity upfront, as much as you can provide it, is important. Again, not becoming too narrow so that you’re missing great external, out of the box talent, but being specific in what type of ingredients are going to be needed for the position. 

[00:18:42] Seth Ellison: And then you need to trust your HR leader or recruiter, and, again, you and I had a great relationship working together, but you need to be able to trust their advice, or you haven’t set the bar high enough. You also need to let the HR leader build a feedback process that’s simple and effective, because, again, you’re going to include others in the process, but you also have to realize, at the end of the day, as a leader, you’re accountable for making the final call.

[00:19:07] Seth Ellison: And then I think it’s important to also provide a feedback loop to the others in the process to let them know you appreciated their input, but why you decided the way that you did so they may learn from it, they may disagree, but at least appreciate your honesty. I think the sort of closing the loop is just as important as you go through the feedback process.

[00:19:28] Roy Notowitz: One of the things I remember we used to do, since there were so many people in the interview process, is getting alignment upfront on the competencies and the position across the different interview teams or individuals who were interviewing so that they were on the same page in terms of the things that were important for the role, and reinforcing some of those things, and/or changing or evolving based on different information that we’d get throughout the process.

[00:19:55] Roy Notowitz: So, when there’s a lot of interviewers, I think sometimes that it makes it hard for anybody to get through the process if people aren’t aligned on what they’re actually looking for specifically. 

[00:20:05] Seth Ellison: I think you can fall into a danger zone with a lot of wasted time. Not only your time, but you have to be careful because if you’re going externally into the marketplace, you don’t want to waste candidates’ time at the same time as well.

[00:20:20] Seth Ellison: So, I think it’s really important, again, that you have a strong brief. If there are other stakeholders involved, particularly in a matrix organization, you’re well aligned on what that brief is, where you want to search, giving examples of successful internal leaders who’ve been in similar type roles, skill sets that you want to add, what companies you want to target, what type of candidate pool you want in terms of diversity 

[00:20:48] Roy Notowitz: When you’re interviewing candidates, how do you probe deeper and, and sort of get beyond the typical interview veneer to really get to know or understand their character, their values, their capabilities in a meaningful way? 

[00:21:03] Seth Ellison: When candidates are going to talk about their career path or story, I let them know upfront that I want to learn, in each company role, what value they added, what they’re most proud of and why, what their greatest challenges were and how they’ve overcome those challenges, what they would do differently if they had some do-overs, and how they grew as a leader in each position. 

[00:21:26] Seth Ellison: I want to understand how they build trust with a new team when they enter a new organization. Then I sort of drop it on them that if I asked one of their team members to describe their leadership style, what would they tell me? And what would they say your strengths are and your areas to further develop? 

[00:21:46] Seth Ellison: This gets more interesting the older I get and the more experience I have in this industry because candidates realize I might know leaders they’ve managed, so this makes the question very real because I can reach out to people and get the true stories. So it’s a good chance for me to really probe into some honesty and self-awareness. 

[00:22:07] Seth Ellison: And then how do they ensure that their team is as diverse as possible? What’s the makeup of their existing team? How do they want to change it? How will they change it? How do they like to be managed? I’d like to hear from them in terms of what leadership they feel most comfortable working for.

[00:22:24] Seth Ellison: And finally, I asked them why do they want to work for our company and brand? And where do they think they’ll really add value? 

[00:22:30] Roy Notowitz: That’s a really great approach. I can imagine you in that interview process. Do you have a favorite question or a few questions in your interview arsenal that you like to ask? 

[00:22:40] Seth Ellison: The questions I just mentioned fall into this camp, but I also love to ask candidates near the end of an interview what we’re doing right or wrong. Whether it’s a Levi’s or a Nike, it’s really insightful to force candidates to criticize, and it gets right to their research — how much homework did they do on your company, and what’s their industry knowledge?

[00:23:02] Seth Ellison: How honest are they? And what is their communication style to give negative feedback? And, you know, and it also tells you how they might add immediate value to your company. I hate to say it, but I lay some other traps. So, for example, asking operations leaders, I love to ask them how they stay focused on consumers and customers, because I continually interview operations experts who love to talk about the systems that they know, they manage, but I want to know the true impact they have, and I want to be able to know that leaders see the bigger picture, and they’re just not ready to follow others off the cliff following popular thinking. 

[00:23:43] Roy Notowitz: That’s really interesting to ask somebody something that’s outside their core function, but that ties to the vision for the business or alignment on the business strategy or things like that.

[00:23:55] Roy Notowitz: Is there anything a candidate can say in the interview process that sparks a judgmental hot button or something that turns you off enough to sort of cut the interview short? 

[00:24:05] Seth Ellison: There are two strong biases I have here, and the first one is too much use of the word “I.” And occasionally I’ll hear from leaders, “I did this, I accomplished this. I’m known for this,” so I keep pushing to hear about what the team’s accomplishments have been. And when I don’t hear the word “we,” you’re definitely not right for my team. And then not admitting failures or mistakes and having a tough time explaining what you’ve learned from your mistake. I mean, I occasionally have candidates who have no self-awareness.

[00:24:42] Seth Ellison: And, again, you’re not right for the team. Everybody makes mistakes. It’s more about what you learn, and, in fact, in this world, you need to be able to test more and fail fast. And if you are a person who won’t even admit to failure, you’re probably going to make more mistakes in the future, and that self-awareness is so critical.

[00:25:04] Roy Notowitz: If somebody in an interview process feels like they need to have all the right answers, it’s hard to know what’s true and what isn’t when you’re trying to evaluate them. It’s much better when people are self-aware and somebody has spent time really thinking about their successes and failures, and their strengths and weaknesses, so that’s great.

[00:25:22] Roy Notowitz: Speaking of that, what insights or learnings have you gained from your own hiring successes or failures? And what factors do you think contribute the most to hiring mistakes? 

[00:25:33] Seth Ellison: The first big one is that sometimes I’ll see a candidate pool come back and really it will be weaker than what I’d hoped for. And, 50% of the time, that’s on me, that I didn’t do the upfront briefing as detailed as I should have. And the pools can become unfocused, they can become poorly targeted, they can lack diversity. And I’ve seen too many start overs driven by weak upfront preparation. 

[00:26:01] Seth Ellison: There can be key pieces that were missed in the process to determine how realistic a candidate might be in terms of their ability to join. These things need to be vetted so that you don’t go too far down the process and actually knock out other viable candidates who were simply knocked out by somebody who would be impossible to actually hire. And then, every once in a while, a candidate will mislead because they really want to join your company, but they really aren’t being truly honest or authentic about their values. And finally, the other one that contributes to hiring mistakes is on the other side of the hiring decision — just poor onboarding. 

[00:26:46] Roy Notowitz: Other than making sure you have the right spec and have people aligned on that, are there other elements in the process that you think make a difference in terms of your most successful hires? What elements of the process do you think made the difference? 

[00:27:04] Seth Ellison: I think it’s important to avoid the pace of the business requiring you to make fast decisions. You need to, as a leader, slow the process down to be deliberate, and then making sure that your process will not only narrow down to the top talent, but will build trust, will help with onboarding, and that it’ll be a very smooth process. 

[00:27:31] Roy Notowitz: Is there anything you wish that you had known earlier in your career that might benefit young leaders today or emerging leaders today? 

[00:27:39] Seth Ellison: There are definitely a few things. One of them is stick around long enough to learn from your mistakes, but, if you’re not learning, it’s time to move on.

[00:27:48] Seth Ellison: And then, if you’re not spending most of your time exciting the consumer and developing your team, you aren’t setting yourself up for success because those are probably the things that are going to matter most. You may be great at what you do, but, in order to grow into larger positions in larger companies, your success is completely dependent upon the team you build and lead.

[00:28:09] Seth Ellison: You can’t do it alone. I’ve learned that in order to deal with rising consumer expectations, increased competition, your bar has to keep moving up. It has to move up for your team, and it has to move up for you as a leader. Don’t confuse the amount of time you spend working with guaranteed success. I really thought that by putting in more hours you’d be more successful, and success is really dependent upon the quality of the time you spend.

[00:28:35] Seth Ellison: It’s your high level engagement — having the best team on the field and how you leverage this talent. And you need to give yourself enough time to be a 360 human being that others respect because values are so important when it comes to leadership and your team respecting your values as a person, who you are as a person.

[00:28:57] Seth Ellison: So, if your entire life is only about your work, that may actually turn off top talent. And so it’s really important that you set a different tone and allow yourself to be the unique person that we all are. And then finally, keep reading to find new ideas. For me, I love hearing about different ways of doing things, different perspectives.

[00:29:21] Seth Ellison: Many of those people are thought leaders, and I’ve been blessed to be able to meet many of them along my career and be able to listen to them firsthand, which has been really special. 

[00:29:31] Roy Notowitz: How are you thinking about your future? And what new or exciting things are you working on currently? 

[00:29:36] Seth Ellison: Well, my answer today is different than it was six months ago.

[00:29:41] Seth Ellison: I retired from Levi’s in March and, and really handed over my responsibilities in January, so it, it’s been about six months. And I plan to do some traveling, spend more time with my family, which was long overdue. Reconnecting with brothers and uncles and spending more time with my mother and daughter, granddaughter.

[00:30:02] Seth Ellison: But the more time I’ve had to recharge my batteries, the more I’m realizing I may be ending my career a little too soon. I think we’re finding that creativity and leadership have longer lifespans than maybe was previously thought. I see all the changes that are taking place in the industry, the new challenges ahead for leaders, and it’s like a magnet that I’m attracted to.

[00:30:23] Seth Ellison: I love dealing with challenges, leading, competing, solving problems. I obviously have a lot of passion and curiosity and, and 40 years of experience to leverage, so I’m involved in some investment advisor, philanthropic roles, but I’m also keeping my mind open to another full-time opportunity. I’m just not ready for full-time beach life, and I’m laughing because I guess in some ways I’ve come full circle to where my career journey actually started. 

[00:30:53] Roy Notowitz: I really appreciate you for all that you’ve done for me early in my career. I was young, and you taught me so much, and I really appreciated the time that we worked together and how you’ve kept in touch. Thank you so much again for being on the podcast. I thought you hit a lot of really great insights and I’m looking forward to sharing it. 

[00:31:13] Seth Ellison: Thank you, Roy. It’s always a pleasure to spend time with you, and I just hope our careers will keep reconnecting over and over again. It’s been special. 

[00:31:21] Roy Notowitz: Thanks for tuning in to How I Hire. Visit for more details about what you heard today, and, if you’re enjoying the podcast, please let your friends and colleagues know how to subscribe or follow us. How I Hire is created by Noto Group Executive Search. To find out more about Noto Group, visit You can also sign up for our jobs newsletter there. This podcast was produced by AO McClain. To learn more about their work, visit