23 Feb February 24, 2020 – Series Code John Steele, Roberta Chinsky Matuson and PETA’s Don’t Wear Fur Guy
John Steele – CEO of Series Code
We are looking to be the software development department of a
startup, so we are looking for a long term commitment, a
long term relationship.
John Steele is the founder and CEO of Series Code. Series Code develops software for startups, and unbelievably, the startups can pay for the software with cash, equity, or a mixture, for the right idea, John will take 82% of his payment in equity and 18% in cash. He has 25 employees and is projecting $1M in 2020 revenue. Those are very impressive figures when you consider that he collects between 50% and 82% percent of his payments in equity. John has worked with global brands such as Hilton, Marriott, DirecTV, and Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines as well as amazing startups such as Speak Technologies, Swoovy, Muse, and Eleven Software.
Roberta Chinsky Matuson – Talent Retention Expert and Author of Evergreen Talent: A Guide to Hiring and Cultivating a Sustainable Workforce – Read interview highlights here
The idea is to look for talent where no one else is looking.
Roberta Matuson, president of Matuson Consulting, helps the best companies hire and retain the best people. She’s helped leaders in Fortune 500 companies and small to medium-size businesses achieve dramatic growth and market leadership. As a seasoned consultant with industry experience, Roberta is considered a leading authority on talent maximization, leadership and the skills and strategies required to earn employee commitment and client loyalty. She is known globally as “The Talent Maximizer®.” Roberta was recently inducted into the Million Dollar Consultant® Hall of Fame and she has appeared on television on programs such as CBS’s The Early Show, Fox’s The O’Reilly Factor, Fox Business News and CNN’s Quest Means Business with Richard Quest. Roberta is the author of five books including the newly released: Evergreen Talent.
Dan Mathews – Senior Vice President, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA)
Dan Mathews is the PETA Senior Vice President and the irreverent force behind many of the colorful crusades carried out by PETA, including the three-decade “Rather Go Naked Than Wear Fur” campaign, and has worked directly with designers like Stella McCartney, Armani, Michael Kors, Versace, Prada, and Tommy Hilfiger on expanding use of vegan fabrics. With top designers shedding fur, California banning fur sales, and Macy’s closing its fur salons, the animal rights group is celebrating the demise of the fur trade by ending its iconic campaign. PETA’s former adversaries—design houses that flaunted fur for decades—now seek the organization’s help with sourcing vegan alternatives to fur, leather, down, and wool, as modern consumers prefer sustainable and animal-friendly fashions.
Highlights from Roberta’s Interview
Keeping Great Talent
First and foremost, you have to determine why people are really leaving your business. The reason that they tell you for leaving and the real reason they’re leaving may not be the same. It’s very common to leave a boss who is not treating you well, but you really can’t find out if the reason they’re leaving the business is you or them. So you need to have an independent party to try to find that out. I interview people who have recently left their organizations for my clients. When a third-party speaks with people, they’re much more likely to be honest and they’ll tell you things you didn’t even ask about. If you want to make sure that your people don’t leave, it’s also a good idea to engage somebody from the outside to have conversations with your people to find out what they are thinking; what were their hopes and dreams when they took this job, and are they still hopeful that those dreams will come true, and if not, what can you do today to encourage them and help them achieve those dreams?
The effect of a person leaving an organization is greater for a smaller company, as compared to a larger one. If you think about it, if a Fortune 500 company loses one employee, so what? I mean, there are hundreds, if not hundreds of thousands of employees, that can take on that person’s responsibilities. So that loss is not felt nearly as deeply as it would be if you’re a five-person company and you lose one person; that’s catastrophic.
The problem of not being able to find great talent is very common amongst all organizations today. What I write about it in my book, Evergreen Talent, is something that I recently practiced. So instead of driving to work this week, I would call a ride share. And when I got into my Lyft ride or my Uber ride, I would actually take my head out of my phone and put it down, and I would have a conversation and talk to my driver. I would find out, “Is this your full-time job? Why did you choose to drive?” Last week, I drove from Boston to Sarasota, Florida. Along the way, I probably took about eight Lyft rides when I was in different cities, and I spoke to some amazing people who were driving. There were just a host of these people, that if you could grab one of these people as an employee, you’d be so fortunate. So, the idea is to look for talent where no one else is looking. But when you’re posting on LinkedIn that we’re hiring, who really cares? Everybody’s posting that we’re hiring. You’ve got to get out there, you’ve got to meet people, you’ve got to make an impression, and then you’ve got to go after that talent.
My most recent driver was halfway through his PhD. Quite frankly, he more educated than me; I only have an MBA. So, this is the kind of talent that’s in front of you, but we make these assumptions like, he maybe a high school dropout or maybe he graduated from high school and that’s about it. But there’s just amazing talent right now that are doing these side hustles, and they’re doing it not necessarily because they want to, but because they need to.
If you’ve interviewed your candidates by phone before they come in, you’re already top of the class. Most employers don’t bother to do phone interviews. And then when somebody comes in and they’re in their office, within the first five minutes, they’re like, “Oh my gosh, I’m so not hiring this person.” They’ve just wasted an hour of their own time, and they’ve wasted an hour of the candidate’s time. Maybe interviewing candidates visually through Skype is also a great option, but I say maybe because there’s a whole group of people out there whom we call neuro-diverse candidates. These are candidates who might be on the autism spectrum. As a result, their eye contact might not be an ideal one, but they are brilliant people. Many of them have technology skills that you and I could only dream about, yet this is a sector of the workforce that’s being completely dismissed. Although, some companies are taking this one step further and they’re actually actively recruiting these people, because they know how great they are once they can engage them. They also know that a lot of companies aren’t even giving these people a second look, which means they have a much stronger chance of being able to hire these really great people.
Once you know through phone interviews that the candidates are good potential fits, then you want to make sure that you are prepared to impress them, because they are interviewing you just as much as you are interviewing them. So, if a candidate is walking into your office and it looks like a tornado just came through, they’re looking around thinking, “Oh my gosh, this place is just pure chaos. This is probably not where I want to be.” If you are the kind of person who is so busy, that in the middle of the interview, the phone rings and you pick it up, you start answering emails, the candidate is looking at you going, “What the heck?” What I’m suggesting you need to understand is that this a two-way street, and today, the candidates are in the driver’s seat.
I have a book called Selecting for Success, it’s available on my website, and it talks about getting behind the interview questions. Because so many people, when they start to interview candidates, they have a list of questions and they’re just ticking off the boxes. They’re like, “This person says they’re responsible, thank God. This person says this, this person says that.” Rather than, “They say they’re responsible, but they were 20 minutes late. Is that really responsible?” Or, “They said that they were the fastest delivery person in their organization. Yet, they’re so lethargic, I had to wake him up to see if he was still so alive during the interview.” So, it’s not just what a person says, but how they say it. You’ve really got to get behind those questions and determine whether or not this person has the traits that will make them successful in your organization.
To keep your employees happy, as entrepreneurs in particular, you all are very fortunate, in that you can take this person under your wing. If you’re the CEO of IBM and you’ve got hundreds of thousands of employees, then it’s harder to nurture them individually. But if you’ve got five or ten employees, you can take an employee out on a sales call and let them see what’s happening in the field. You can invite them for lunch and talk to them more informally. You can send them to a workshop, or you can bring them to the conference that you might be attending. You can encourage them to go to an upcoming association meeting that is local.
There are definitely signs if your employees are dissatisfied. So if the person that used to volunteer to do everything is no longer putting up their hand, that’s a pretty good sign. You might have somebody who never calls in sick, and all of a sudden, they’re sick every other week. I like to do what I call my Timeout for a Coffee Campaign. That’s when I say to my clients, you need to set aside a time; maybe once a week, every other week, whatever, and invite the person into your office to sit down and have a cup of coffee, and have a conversation. “How are you doing? How are things going? What do you need from me? How’s your family? How are you doing? I know you’re working on your degree at night, how’s that going?” Just have a conversation. When people have a cup of coffee in their hand, you’d be amazed how open they are; everything just sort of bubbles out. Make a practice of this. Again, for you as a small business, it might be once a month or it might be once every other week. But invite people in and be totally there; no phone in your hand, just be totally present.
If you’re not happy because your employees are not progressing as well as you’d hope, you just have to be honest with yourself and ask yourself, are my expectations on target or am I expecting them to act like a business owner? Because if you’re expecting them to act like a business owner, I have some news for you: they’re not the owner, and if they wanted to be an owner, they might own their own business. So, they’re not going to act like a business owner. But if your expectations are realistic, then you need to have a conversation with them, and you need to let them know specifically what areas they’re not really getting high grades in. Then you have to help them move up and better themselves so they can do this particular skill. Or you have to decide, “All the training and nurturing in the world isn’t going to change this person, I made a bad hire”, and you’re going have to manage them out.
If you did hire a superstar employee but the problem is to keep them because maybe you can’t pay them, there are two ways you can go. One is, you can take the posture, “This person has been so good to me. I don’t have any opportunities that I can offer them for continued growth. I’d rather they go to my customer than to my competition and I’m going to help them make that transition.” That’s one way to go. The other way to go is to really ask yourself, “Am I saying that I really don’t have more funds for this person or am I spending that money on watering the plants? Am I spending it in other places where if I had to cut back I could, and I could give this person more money?” Lot of people say that money doesn’t matter, but the people who say that have a lot of money. So, for most employees, money matters. I’m going to assume that most small business owners are not purchasing salary surveys, and so they have no idea how quickly the salaries have moved up, even though you’ll read in the Wall Street Journal that salaries are not moving rapidly. Well, I challenge each and every one of you to go look for a job, and you’ll probably find that an employer is willing to pay you significantly more than what you’re currently making.
I’ve got two kids in college right now. I’ve got a son who’s a computer science major, who is working on his first Co Op job; meaning he had no real experience, and he was making $25/hour. That’s with no experience. When he comes out of school, I’m thinking he’ll probably make about $85,000/year at least. It’s crazy when you look at the supply of computer science openings and how many candidates there are. My point is, today there is such high demand for certain jobs that these young people are coming out of college making $80,000 to 90,000 a year. On the other hand, you do have people who are in liberal arts, and they may be coming out and they’re looking for $40,000 perhaps. So, it really does vary.
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