In the world of talent sourcing, where innovation and expertise are the keys to success, Maisha L. Cannon stands as a beacon of inspiration. In our ongoing series, we aim to create a space where we delve into the lives and experiences of our peers. We hope this allows us to get to know them beyond their professional titles. We’re thrilled to introduce Maisha L. Cannon—an individual whose name resonates with innovation and impact in the fast-paced world of talent acquisition. As the Founder and Chief Learner at The Collab Lab, Inc., Maisha’s unwavering enthusiasm for learning and knowledge-sharing has set her on a trailblazing journey within the recruiting industry.
Her accomplishments speak volumes: she’s graced the stages of conferences, shared her wisdom in industry publications, and garnered recognition in sourcing competitions. Maisha’s inventive sourcing strategies have not only earned her accolades but have also raised the bar for the entire field.
In her current role, she designs transformative Learning and Development (L&D) programs, providing talent teams with the tools to source with precision and confidence. But her impact doesn’t stop there; her commitment to projects like tracing her roots and designing journals for Black girls reflects her dedication to positive change.
Now, let’s dive deeper into Maisha’s journey and gain insights from her perspective through an engaging Q&A session. Get ready to discover the person behind the accomplishments and learn more about the passion and wisdom that drive her remarkable career.
What’s your best personality trait?
What is your worst personality trait?
What is the biggest assumption people make about you – be it wrong or right?
They incorrectly assume that I’m an extrovert. 😜
Your initial role in TA was with E! Entertainment / The Style Network as a Staffing Specialist. Could you share the story of how you secured that position and reflect on one valuable takeaway that continues to resonate with you from that experience?
Great question! My journey into Talent Acquisition began as a summer intern with Yes2Jobs, a Non-profit focused on helping minority high school students gain paid internships in the entertainment industry. After graduating college and briefly exploring teaching, I felt the pull back to recruitment. I reached out to Jaleesa Hazard, the executive director at YES to Jobs, who was gracious enough to make time for a former intern facing a career crossroads.
That pivotal conversation led to a 30-day temp role at E! Entertainment, which ultimately turned into a full-time position. The lesson that continues to resonate? Never underestimate the transformative power of networking and nurturing relationships.
What do you love most about working as a Talent Sourcing professional?
Talent sourcing is a multifaceted role that allows me to leverage my natural skills like curiosity, research, and people skills. Like William Maurer says, it’s part ambassador, part researcher, part teacher, and part strategist. I find it incredibly fulfilling.
What do you like least about working in talent acquisition?
The cyclical nature of talent acquisition and the perception of TA as dispensable are my least favorite aspects.
What’s been the biggest challenge working in the world of talent sourcing?
The biggest challenge is proving the value of sourcing. It’s often misunderstood or downplayed, even by leaders within organizations.
We’re not just “putting people in [LinkedIn Recruiter] projects;” we’re brand ambassadors, influencers, data synthesizers, and talent spotters. As Shally Steckerl says, ‘Sourcing is sui generis.’
This means sourcing is in a class of its own, a unique blend of art and science that serves as a strategic cornerstone for talent acquisition. It’s a specialized skill set that demands recognition and understanding, especially from organizational leaders.
Having worked in TA both as an individual contributor and as a people leader, did you find a preference for one role over the other?
Both roles have their merits. Ultimately, what drives me in either capacity is the pursuit of mastery, the freedom of autonomy, and the fulfillment of purpose. Each role has its challenges and rewards, and I find fulfillment in both.
Would you share a brief overview of your transition from Corporate America to entrepreneurship, along with some concise advice for individuals contemplating a similar leap?
After two decades in Corporate America, I felt a calling to pivot back to my foundational passion for facilitation and training. This led me to establish The Collab Lab, Inc.™, where we’re redefining the way recruiting teams learn and grow. If you’re contemplating a similar transition, here’s my R.O.C.K. formula for success:
Reflect: Take stock of your unique skills, passions, and the impact you want to make in the world. This is your north star.
Organize: Build a ‘board of advisors’—a small, trusted circle who can provide diverse perspectives and invaluable guidance.
Consult: Engage with mentors or industry experts to validate your plans and gain actionable insights.
Kindness: The road to entrepreneurship is filled with highs and lows. Be kind to yourself, seeing each setback as a setup for a greater comeback.
Each role I’ve held, from Lead Facilitator at Roblox to Manager of Global Talent Sourcing at Procore Technologies, has been a stepping stone to my current venture. The skills and experiences I’ve gained have been invaluable in shaping The Collab Lab, Inc.™ into a transformative space for recruiting professionals.
How did you navigate your career journey, transitioning from staffing to full-cycle recruiting, strategy, sourcing, and ultimately to your current role as Founder and Chief Learner at The Collab Lab, Inc.? Do you believe that each of these previous roles contributes to your success in your current position?
Absolutely, each role has contributed to where I am now. I’ve had to learn new skills, unlearn outdated practices, and adapt to various challenges. It’s all part of the journey, and each experience has been invaluable.
How do you define success?
Success isn’t just about accolades or achievements; it’s about the impact you make on the lives around you. It’s showing up authentically, doing no harm, and leaving a positive imprint. If people can describe you as a good person, helpful, or kind, then you’ve truly succeeded. But it doesn’t stop there—success is also about safeguarding your integrity and setting unyielding boundaries that honor your core values. In essence, success is a harmonious blend of impact and integrity.
How do you define failure?
Failure is the absence of growth. If you stumble but learn, adapt, and forge ahead, you haven’t failed—you’ve evolved. The only true failure is when you stop learning from your experiences.
What is your greatest failure?
I prefer to see life through a lens of opportunity, where even setbacks serve as invaluable stepping stones. While some moments may have felt like failures—like being laid off 15 years ago—they’ve often been catalysts for transformation. That period of unemployment wasn’t a failure; it was a prelude to a resurgence.
As Beyoncé aptly puts it:
“Been down, been up, been broke, broke down, bounced back.
Been off, been on, been back, what you know about that?”
These oscillations between highs and lows aren’t failures; they’re the rhythm of a life well-lived.
In the context of the current state of sourcing, what are your current thoughts or outlooks?
I’m decidedly optimistic about the trajectory of sourcing within Talent Acquisition.
My vision is for sourcing to transcend its often misunderstood role as a short-term solution and be acknowledged for its enduring value.
As we navigate an increasingly complex talent landscape, the strategic insights and specialized skills that sourcing professionals bring to the table will become indispensable. It’s not just about filling roles today; it’s about shaping the workforce of tomorrow.
Who is one person in TA that people need to know, besides yourself of course?
Ami Arroyo is a dynamic force in Talent Acquisition. With a career that spans from investment consulting to sales recruiting, she’s recently embarked on her own entrepreneurial journey. Ami is not just a recruiter; she’s a strategic thinker, a collaborative learner, and an invaluable network connection.
One word of advice you’d give to your younger self:
Enjoy, explore, and empower.
Enjoy – find joy in the journey, embracing each moment as it comes.
Explore – don’t be confined to a single path; venture out and discover new opportunities.
Empower – take control of your destiny by making choices that align with your values.
What are your hobbies or the current goal you’re actively pursuing?
Right now, my passion and focus are deeply intertwined as I work on building The Collab Lab, Inc.™ I recently developed a few HRCI/SHRM learning pathways for teams that I’m excited to launch in Q4.
I’m also channeling my creativity into a meaningful project—crafting journals specifically designed for Black girls. You can check them out at www.blackgirljournals.com.
Finish the statement, Maisha Cannon is….
Your favorite sourcer’s favorite sourcer. *I may have heard Marvin say that a decade ago about himself, so I’m citing my source!