Recruiter enlists 11 in one month -- Q & A with Springfield's finest
By Staff Sgt. Jonathan Agee
| | July 20, 2004
RECRUITING STATION SPRINGFIELD, Mass. --
He is the Michael Jordan of recruiters, scoring 11 contracts in the month of June for Recruiting Station Springfield. This Cleveland, OH native has been on the job for less than a year, but he is setting the standard for what is expected of an RS Springfield recruiter.
Staff Sgt. Christopher F. Lanski, Recruiting Substation Waterbury canvassing recruiter, has served in the Marine Corps for more than 13 years. As a recruiter, Lanski has contracted 46 people into the Marine Corps. During his 11-month tour, Lanski has earned 15 personal awards for his dedication to the mission. His personal motivation and work ethic has made him an invaluable player in the search for tomorrow's Marines.
Q. 11 Contracts in one month ... that's unheard of! What was going through your mind when you contracted number 11 in the month of June?
A. Well, actually number 11 -- I was on leave. The last three or four happened on leave, but they were already identified. What was going through my mind? Well, I was down in New London Connecticut, enjoying a few days off. I knew the command had needed the extra effort. I got a phone call my kid was going up there [Military Entrance Processing Station] and I said, 'alright take him up there and make this kid a poolee.' I wish I could have done more. It was kinda weird knowing you have a contract going through when your feet are in the sand and the ocean is splashing upon your feet.
Q. Now that the word is out, have any recruiters come forward and said they have contracted more than 11 people in one month?
A. No, they have not. The only thing I have received from recruiters is congratulations and definitely like you said, 'unheard of.'
Q. Have any recruiters asked you to take it easy because you're making them look bad?
A. No. Any influence like that would basically go in one ear and out the other. I'm there as myself and as a Marine ... when I do something, when I apply myself, whether it is recruiting or it is for my family I give 110 percent.
Q. Does your NCOIC now expect you to contract in the double digits?
A. [Laughs] I would have to say everyone in my chain of command probably does right now, not just him.
Q. Not many Marines volunteer for recruiting duty, how did you get into the business?
A. I discussed it with my wife when we were in Hawaii previously, many years ago. Then our son was born, and we wanted to bring him closer to the New England area for family reasons. That is how we left Hawaii originally back in 2000; then got into Quantico and stayed there for a few years and talked to my career planner in reference to the possibility of getting into recruiting. Not only for family, but also for reasons for myself - career enhancement, you know the "B" billet. Obviously I don't want to be a staff sergeant the rest of my time in the Marines, right? So putting a lot of thought into it, I talked to the career planner about getting into a fall season. Well, low and behold the HRST [Headquarters' Recruiting Screening Team] came out in March, a month later, and my name was on it. I got screened out, the message came back and I'm going to school for recruiting duty. Did it happen a little sooner than I wanted it too? Yes, it did. But in the long run it was probably the best thing that happened, knowing what I did. As everything has worked out so far.
Q. What did you want to be when you were a child? Certainly not a Marine Corps recruiter?
A. What I always wanted to do was something with law enforcement.
Q. What happened to that dream?
A. Well, obviously I am not working in some local city or state, but I think it was the status that was behind it -- being able to help people, being a people person, being able to talk to somebody ... I have gotten myself into about five different MOSs since I have been in the Marines, and Military Police was one of them, and I have done that for eight years.
Q. How were you recruited?
A. The Marine Corps was not the first service I was in. My grandfather was in the Army Air Forces in WWII, and he worked decoding messages. My mom was also a big influence, and very positive about the military. So that obviously helps to have parents that are very supportive ... I spent two years in the Army Reserves and I went to artillery school in Fort Still Oklahoma and actually did a lot more training with my unit and met a lot of other Marines. Deep down inside, I think there was a Marine there, but like a lot of kids now-a-days have a misunderstanding about the Marines - they can't handle it, the physical fitness aspect of it ... I was part of that crowd. Then in November of 1990, Iraq invaded Kuwait in the first Gulf War, and my unit got activated ... I went to the Marine recruiter, walked in the office and said, "where do I go, what do I do, how do I become a Marine?" I sat down with him for a few hours ... In February 91 I was in boot camp for the Marine Corps and I have been there [in the Marines]since.
Q. What is your recruiting "Style"?
A. Volume. Not necessarily trying to get every kid. Working with everyone. Going out there and talking to everyone -- the quantity. You got to do that. You can't be afraid. You have to be aggressive. You got to go out there and make it happen.
Q. What separates you from other recruiters?
A. Probably drive ... I always want to be successful in whatever I do. I don't give up. You might hit barriers or barricades, but you get around them, and you find a way to make it happen.
Q. When you first began you could not have been this good. What were some of the toughest obstacles you had to overcome during your recruiting tour?
A. The product knowledge of recruiting. I wasn't that good, but obviously have learned from mistakes. That was probably one of the biggest things. Learning all the programs that were available, like the pool program and high school programs. And finally honing skills and techniques ... I definitely hit a lot of bumps, I have crashed and burned a few times, but I learned from those mistakes and didn't do it again.
Q. If you see a potential applicant in public, what is the first thing that goes through your mind?
A. Everyone is a potential applicant in a sense. You have to take a step back, relax and make sure everything is done the way it is suppose to be done. Don't get wrapped up in that moment. There is still a process there, and everyone is handled in the same manner. Don't forget about everything you need to do as a recruiter, such as screening and things of that nature.
Q. What was your worst day on recruiting duty?
A. [Laughs] There could probably be a few of those. One day I walked back into the RSS, I probably lost a shipper, probably due to [applicant] screening by myself and I walked in the office with coffee, stumbled upon something dropped it, a full large coffee, the lid was not on, it hit the desk, splashed up and low and behold the commanding officer was sitting there. I got him as well. I don't know how to explain that one, but that was not a good day.
Q. Is there anything in the world that would make your job easier?
A. If the mission was lower, then the hours would not be there as much. I would be able to go home with my family -- because they have paid the price for me being successful.
Q. What does a super-star recruiter do on his day off? Think about work?
A. I still think about work. You still have kids that you are working. Have I had a day off where I could drop the pack as far as recruiting? No. You still make phone calls, you still have your shippers that have to go out. Having a good week off recently, I was still writing contracts. You just can't flip a switch. It is in my blood now.
Q. Are there any rewards to recruiting, aside from the extra $450 a month?
A. I don't think about the $450. It's a monetary thing. It's not why I write this many contracts a month. What has been rewarding is the sense of self accomplishment.
Q. Any advice for struggling recruiters?
A. Come sit with me. I will show you how it's done. Plain and simple, come spend a day with me and we will see what you are doing differently.
Q. You seemed to have hit the top, where do you go from here?
A. Definitely not the bottom. Just like master gunny asked me the other day, "Staff Sgt. Lanski, you wrote 11 contracts last month, are you going to beat it this month?" Can I get 11 again? Can I beat it? Definitely. Will that happen this month? That would be difficult. I can capitalize, move forward, learn from my mistakes and make not only myself but the station more successful than it is.