Who is Jim Kim and what are the key takeaways in this episode?
Your company is only as good as the people that you bring to your team. So today, we’ll help you level up your recruitment process and help you ensure that you get the best people, the best fit talent, to your team.
Today’s guest is Jim Kim. Jim works for Cangrade, which is a revolutionary tool that lets you use data to make the right hire and match the culture you want to create with the candidate you have in front of you. Some of the topics we’ve covered in this interview include:
- How he got into a variety of experiences, hobbies and activities
- What Cangrade is and how it works
- What the common mistakes are in the old school hiring process
- Why he admires Hubspot as a company
- And a whole lot more…
[3:43] What do you think shaped you to be able to have that diverse background from an early age?
Answer: I guess it’s kind of a variety of different experiences growing up. As a kid, I did a ton of different activities. My parents always encouraged me to do different types of sports, and go to different types of camps, and just, you know, don’t spend too much time in front of the TV, but just go out there and just explore life. That’s what we should all do, and I think that’s what’s really led me to check out a lot of different types of jobs and types of industries.
[9:35] Can you share with us the data about a potential hire, and what’s the most common mistake hiring managers commit?
Answer: Yes, so especially in, let’s say, entry-level positions, let’s say, for a job that particularly hires fresh college graduates, a lot of employers put a ton of emphasis into the GPA of the candidate who just graduated, but that really doesn’t tell you whether or not this person will be successful in the job. It just tells you whether or not, well, did this person study in college and did they get good grades. But that’s not a true indicator of whether or not this person will be able perform well in the role that you’re hiring for. In fact, the exact number, I think it is relatively low as far as how predictive — that is definitely less than maybe about 5% of that predictive indicator of whether or not that person will be good in the job.
[16:06] Jim, is there a book that you feel has changed your life?
Answer: Absolutely, a book called “How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie. I’m sure a lot of your listeners are familiar with this book. Well, this is really the first that’s called self-help for a lack of a better word that I can come up with this morning. But really, the first self-help book that I picked up. And since then, I read a number of these on a regular basis, things that are helping me with sales and motivation, and life in general. But this was the first one that I picked up. And I picked this up because back when I was a freshman in high school, I just saw it on a library shelf, and said, “Oh, it’s an interesting title, very specific type of title, so it looks interesting.” So I picked it up, and it really set the foundation for, well, the title tells, how to win friends and influence people, because when you think about it, look at all the successful people that you know.
Culture According to Jim Kim:
This is a tool that I believe that can help anybody find the right job that they, maybe in their life, they have the experience, they have the potential to succeed in, but maybe they just didn’t get the chance. Well, this is their chance to really find the job and the careers and the things that they want to do. So the happier people you have in the job, well guess what, chances are the more successful they’ll be, the more that your company will succeed. And that’s the vision that we have. That’s our culture. We want to help people succeed and we want to help people find the best careers for them.
Go To Quote for Inspiration
- How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
What Jim Kim Wants His Company to BE:
- BE Hustling
- BE Useful
- BE Fearless
Links and Resources Mentioned in this Interview:
Where to Find Jim Kim:
Connect with John on
FULL EPISODE TRANSCRIPT
John: Jim, welcome to the BE Culture Radio. Glad to have you today.
Jim: Thank you, John. Yeah, it’s great to be here. Thank you so much.
John: That’s super and I’m so glad you decided to join us. For my listeners, Jim is up in the Boston area, and they’re still digging out of the snow. We’re talking little pre-show about how both of us might see the ground before April. We’re pretty excited about that. But before we get into that — hey, Jim, I thought it would be great if you could share your journey and your history with our listeners so they have a better idea of who you were outside of all your great professional experience.
Jim: Yeah, absolutely. Well, currently, I’m working on sales for a company called “Cangrade,” and what we do is, well, let’s say you’re hiring for a job, and you’re getting all sorts of application coming in. Our software can actually predict which of those potential new hires have the personality and the potential to be successful in the job, and it’s funny, because it’s actually how I got this job. I did not have a lot of sales experience before I took this position. However, I took the Cangrade Personality Assessment Test when I applied to this position and scored highly enough on it that that’s how they brought me in for the interview, and then put me into the hiring process. So that’s what I’m currently doing, but I do have quite a few years of experience in a variety of industries.
I previously worked in, as John mentioned, IT. I was previously a programmer. I’ve worked in publishing and insurance, and mostly in a marketing-type of background. But I feel like everything you do in life is pretty much practice for the next thing that you want to do with life, though. That’s what I feel the journey I’m on right now.
John: You’re pretty entrepreneurial for working for a number of corporations, which a lot of my listeners will find very engaging and interesting to note. You know, also I’d like to note, Jim’s quite an avid blogger and I’m going to get him to talk about that in a little while. But it’s interesting to find a guy who has the entrepreneurial background you do, and I had talked with Jim pre-show. We talked about his background in publishing and manufacturing, and insurance, and it’s just interesting. How did — what do you think shaped you to be able to have that diverse background from an early age?
Jim: I guess it’s kind of a variety of different experiences growing up. As a kid, I did a ton of different activities. My parents always encouraged me to do different types of sports, and go to different types of camps, and just, you know, don’t spend too much time in front of the TV, but just go out there and just explore life. That’s what we should all do, and I think that’s what’s really led me to check out a lot of different types of jobs and types of industries.
Previously, I’ve also dabbled in things like cooking. I was a line cook at a couple of restaurants. I’ve done —really into writing. I was a social media consultant for a number of small businesses. So I feel like, again, all that stuff has really been good practice for me to be able to handle the pressure of busy service. Well, I can apply that same type of mentality when I go into sales, and the multi-tasking and the social media marketing that’s so important today. Really, it’s important to get a good variety of different experiences and knowledge, so that you can really excel in the next thing that you want to do in your career.
John: I’m going to change gears in a little bit and talk about Cangrade for a minute, because I was pretty shocked and pleasantly surprised when I was checking out the website. Some of the statistics that — and Jim, jump in here and share with our listeners, because to me, it was pretty amazing. I mean, the interview process, everything’s like, “We’re going to hire people in the interview process.” So we’ve all been culturally driven to do those three interviews, and then bring them back. So maybe you can share with us the idea of Cangrade and how it came to be, and how it really separates itself from a cultural standpoint.
Jim: Yup, absolutely. So the company was started by two guys, Gershon Goren, who is our CEO, and he’s probably more of our Technical Founder, and then the other guy was Steve Lehr, who is our Chief Science Officer and he’s the one who created the assessments though.
Gershon created the platform and then Steve created the assessments, and together, they created Cangrade. It started probably back in 2011, and we steadily have been growing ever since. And really, but the company was started because Gershon likes to tell a story that when he came to the country — he was originally from Israel — when he came to America, he was looking for a job as a programmer. He applied to a job at IBM, did not get that job, but then did get a job with a startup, which after a couple of years, he rose to the ranks and also became the head of tech over at the startup. That company was eventually acquired by IBM. So it’s funny just how life can come full circle like that. He was wondering a little, “What happened? How come I didn’t get this position, yet ultimately come to work for IBM.”
And it was during this time that he ran into Steve probably at some sort of networking event, where he talked to Steve about what he was doing and he said that, “Well, I’m working on this research at Harvard University,” — where he’s a psychology researcher — “and I’m studying, well, how your personality can dictate your potential for success in a job in a different correlation between your character traits and your soft skills, like your intuitive thinking or level of trust, or ability to multi-task, how all of that correlated can equal either, hey, you’ll be a great sales person or hey, you’ll be a great technical programmer or whatever type of job you’re applying for is really dictated by your personality, more so than previous job experience or things that you might have done in the past, it is really your personality that dictates your potential for success in a role.”
John: Pretty cool, huh? I mean, I was amazed, you know. And again, small business owners and entrepreneurs, we struggle with the process of building teams and building the right culture, and really understanding what goes on. And Cangrade gives us some real insight in a cost-effective way, doesn’t it?
Jim: Absolutely. There’s never really been a magic bullet when it comes to hiring, and there never will be. You still have to do things like do the interviews, get a feel for the person, do the background checks, at least take a look at the resume. But when you think about it, really, anybody can put anything they want on a resume.
In fact, that’s what most job experts say is “Adjust your resume to the job. Adjust the bullets, so that it matches what you’re seeing in a job description.” Okay, well that would get your foot in the door. Then, when it comes to the time for the interview, anybody can say whatever they want in the interview. I mean, in fact, actually in sales that if you like, if you’re a sales person, you want to say the things that the other person wants to hear. So what is the real, true indicator of whether or not a potential new hire that you’re going to spend thousands and thousands of dollars on, and put them into your benefits program and train them up and invest all this time and money, and energy into getting this new hire, what’s their potential really just to be that successful, promotable and growing person in that role?
Well, there’s still that chance that they might be a charlatan, that it might not work out, that they might leave in a few months or less than a year. And then, guess what, well, you’re back to square one and you just invested all that time and money and energy into finding this person. But what Cangrade does is it really increases your chances of making the best hiring decision on that person.
In fact, what we found is that Cangrade Test is actually three times more predictive in determining whether or not someone will be a good hire than the traditional route, of just looking at the resumes, or just doing the interviews. You really want to give yourself the best, possible chance of making the best possible hire, so you want then the best, possible tools for finding the best hires. That’s what we show at Cangrade.
John: I got to tell you, I think it was — it was, it almost gave you a 20% better chance of picking the right — and correct me if I’m wrong and help me with the numbers, Jim, but isn’t it over 20% better chance?
Jim: Yes. The numbers that we have are three times more predictive. So it’s a better predictor of success of future job performance than the traditional job — than the traditional applicant screening method, which is the interview and the resume screen.
John: Now, can you share with us the data about a potential hire, and what’s the most common mistake hiring managers commit?
Jim: Yes, so especially in, let’s say, entry-level positions, let’s say, for a job that particularly hires fresh college graduates, a lot of employers put a ton of emphasis into the GPA of the candidate who just graduated, but that really doesn’t tell you whether or not this person will be successful in the job. It just tells you whether or not, well, did this person study in college and did they get good grades. But that’s not a true indicator of whether or not this person will be able to perform well in the role that you’re hiring for. In fact, the exact number, I think it is relatively low as far as how predictive that is — that is definitely less than maybe about 5% of that predictive indicator of whether or not that person will be good in the job. And then similar to the GPA is the resume. Like I explained before, anybody can put whatever they want in the resume, and that’s not really a good predictor, especially if this person was savvy enough to really adjust the bullets on the resume to fit that role. It also is not a strong predictor of future job performance.
This interview on the other hand is a little bit stronger than the resume itself. But I think it’s something like 10% to 15% predictive of whether this person will be — how effective this person will be in the job.
However, you still definitely have a lot of margin for making the wrong hire if you just fully rely on just the interview and your impressions of that, whereas with the Cangrade Personality Assessment Test, we found that it’s 36% predictive, which means it’s pretty much three times more predictive than just the interview and just the resume in determining whether or not this person will be successful in the job, and the results definitely speak for themselves because from what we’ve found. One of our users is a company called “CareerBuilder.” I’m sure many of us are familiar with them, based in Chicago — CareerBuilder, the job career website — and they use Cangrade for their own hiring. What they found is if you simply started using it, well, they reduced their turnover by 40%, which has led to an impact on revenues upwards of $27 million.
And when you think about it, it makes sense, that the better quality candidates that you bring in because Cangrade tells you which candidates you want to interview first, which are most likely to succeed. The better quality candidates you get, the better quality employees that you’ll hopefully hire. And the better employees that you have, the less time you’re going to have to do things like training, the less times you’ll have to do things like, maybe revisiting things that you wanted them to take up really quickly, and the more time that they spend on doing things like selling and working, and actually doing the job. Well, that’s definitely going to have an impact on the company’s bottom line.
John: You know, in the last three weeks, I’ve had the chance to talk to a number of CEOs from emerging companies, business coaches, and the common thread I get from them is, you know, the resume is probably worth about the paper’s written on. And they look at it and they shake their heads. And I’ll bring my listeners into this part of it because we’re entrepreneurs, we’re small business owners, we’re people in the C-suite that really want to make a difference. So Jim, maybe you can help us. How do we quantify it? How do we take the data and really make it the everyday person’s vernacular to separate the soft skills and hard skills? And how do — because there’s so much information out there that you just get blown away, and then you’re just getting overwhelmed, and I don’t know about everybody else, when I get to that point, I’m like, “Oh gosh, what do I do know?” And you just hope not to make a bad decision, and hope it’s not a process.
Jim: Right, so what the Cangrade test does is it actually measures 40 different soft skills, and the things that you can’t really measure, soft skills being things like your ability to trust, your intuitive thinking, your ability to multi-task. How do you quantify this stuff? You can’t really, but that’s exactly what the Cangrade test can measure.
In addition to the personality assessments, we also have things like skill tests, which would measure the hard skills. So we have things like financial accounting tests, Microsoft Excel, Word, programming tests. These are the things that you can quantify, and a lot of our users use these skill tests as part of their application, or let’s say, especially for the programmers, let’s say, they brought programmers in for the interview, they maybe like what they hear, but then they want to administer a programming test to ensure, well, can this guy really walk the walk that he’s talking with us. And so, they can administer the skill tests right through the Cangrade tool, and then get the results immediately.
John: So let me understand this, because I have worked in corporate America, as my listeners know, I’ve shared with them. I’ve worked for Fortune 100 companies and I have been the guy that was responsible for bringing teams in and building them.
I’ve had the experience like everybody else, that I hire people and they come in, and the next thing I know, I’m looking at them like, “This is not the person I hired. This one here, he’s the evil, younger brother. Who in God’s name is this person and how do I get rid of them before they destroy, not only my team, but me in the process?” And I think most of us has been there and we’re like how do you literally understand the cultural link? Because today, we have millennials coming into the business world, and if you don’t pay attention to the culture on what you’re building, you’re not going to hire a quality group of people for the future, if it’s a whole different world.
So how do we make that link, Jim? How do we use your tools — not only your tools, but the information that you bring to the table with your experience — help us a little bit further down this path.
Jim: Yes. Well, that’s just the general feeling when you know that you’ve made a bad hire. And unfortunately, it’s inevitable, but if you arm yourself with these tools that are out there now, that are so much more advanced than just looking at their resume, or just — my personal favorite — yeah, I had a good feeling about this guy, or had a good feeling about her. And then, what happens is, well, what you just described, that nightmare scenario, where you’re not seeing the things that you want to see, and that raises your own level of anxiety and stress, and that raises your team’s level of anxiety and stress. And before you know it, you’re just in a bad situation that you could have avoided, possibly. You could have given yourself a chance of avoiding that if you really took advantage of the tools that are out there now.
And that’s the space that Cangrade is in because after someone takes the Cangrade Personality Test, and it only takes maybe 10 to 15 minutes to complete. A lot of people are familiar with the Myers-Briggs Test or something like this, because these other personality tests and that has been out there for a long time. And those are excellent tools for describing a person, the person’s traits and tendencies. And we have that descriptive aspect, because after someone takes the Cangrade test, you are given a personality report that scores that person across different personality traits. So that can be definitely a very useful tool on your staff to arm yourself with, really, before you’re going to have to look at the resume, before bringing that person in to interview, you want to know about the person’s character and the personality traits and their tendencies. And so that’s how we feel that if you want to avoid that terrible scenario that you described, you want to arm yourself with the tools that are out there now to help you to really make the best hiring decision. And that’s what we feel with Cangrade, with the tests that are combined, the best of both worlds: the descriptive, just like you ask them, but with a Myers Briggs, with the predictive, well, we actually score somebody, and with the test, we can actually score them from 0 to 100 whether or not this person will be successful, if he scores in the 80s, 90s, even the 70s, then chances are they’re going to be a better fit for that role than someone who scores a five or ten, or a 20.
John: So, my favorite line is, “Oh, I really like them.” They resonated with me.
John: And I’m like, “Yeah, right. You were supposed to resonate with them.” That’s why they’re sitting in front of you.
John: You know what, the other part I find interesting as it relates to culture, and you talked about it just a moment ago, you said ‘character’. And I think we’ve all got to step back and define what character truly is because where I was raised and what I was given for a foundation is character is what people do when nobody’s looking.
Jim: I like that.
John: And I think that Cangrade gives you a glimpse into what people will do when nobody is looking, because you can’t fool the test, you can’t. There’s no way to get around it, because it does give you a fool-proof answer, doesn’t it, Jim?
Jim: It does. I mean, the test is created in such a way that there’s no gaming the system. It is 150 questions, but 150 questions for a reason. Certain questions will be repeated, but in different ways throughout the test, so that we can really find a consistency among the answers. So the example that I like to use — that we have one question that says, “I like to work in teams.” Okay, well, strongly disagree or disagree in a five-point scale that you can answer with. And maybe 20-30 questions later, then the question says, “I prefer to work alone.” Right? And then you have to rate your level of agreement or disagreement with that. With the test and how it works in the algorithm, look at those answers that are similar and have a relation, so you look at those questions that are similar and have a relation, and then it can determine, well, where on the scale do you lie. And that’s how it, really, — is the most accurate test out there for determining some of the personality.
There’s no right or wrong answers to these questions, and then, in the end, we know that you are applying to a job. You are trying to put yourself in the best light, but that’s what the test takes into account. And it is calibrated to know when people are trying to present themselves in the best light. However, there’s really no, there’s no gaming the system, that the results that show really give a more accurate measure of who you are and what you’re bringing to the table.
John: Okay, so now, let me ask, just move the next because this is the next step, my listeners are small business owners, the entrepreneurs are going to have, “Hey Jim, you know, I don’t have the mothership supporting me. I have to make payroll, is this going to cost me an arm and a leg? Yes, I understand making a bad hire is more expensive, and I have to make an investment, but help me with the cost-return ratio. Is it really expensive for me to get on board with Cangrade?”
Jim: Right. So our pricing structure is modeled to fit easily within the budget, especially we work with a variety of different industries, from small businesses all the way up to the Fortune 500. Obviously, if you’re a multi-thousand person company, that’s a different pricing model than a single license. But I think for the small business owner, let’s say you have maybe 20 to 50 employees currently, and, let’s say, you are maybe making a few hires per month, you are growing. That’s probably a good fit for, at least the assessment portion of the tool. And the way our current model works is if you do fit that small enterprise that was modeled, then it’s very affordable. It’s just $200 per month, could even be less than that if you go with the annual, or if you buy multiple licenses. But, let’s say, about $200 per month. Well, let’s think about that. How much are you spending when you bring someone on board, right?
You’ve got to take into account their wages, and then if you do offer benefits, well, you have to take advantage of the account, and then it’s sort of, what are the costs you’ve invested into posting these jobs and the time that your hiring managers had to invest in doing the interview, and all the other miscellaneous expenses. I’d say that far out-shadows the $200 investment that you’re putting into getting these tool, which, as I said, it’s given you the best chance in arming yourself with the information you need to really help you know, not just have gut instincts or not just have a good feeling about this person. But you want to know who are these people that you’re bringing on board. Do they have potential to succeed? And what’s the test will tell you.
John: I appreciate it. You know, $2,400, right-
John: -is a tremendous investment for an emerging company, to — and I mean that in a positive sense. I mean, being in the interiors business, I see people spend $2,400 on garbage products that they think, “Oh, look what I’ve done.” And we talk about it on regular basis, like there’s no return on that chair, that file that is going to break in six months, it has no warranty to it. But you spent $2,400 on it, good job.
Jim: In fact, yes. In fact, if you go with the annual subscription, we give you a free month. So make it $2,200 for the annual. And another outstanding benefit of using Cangrade is there’s a lot of companies out there that are in the assessment game that might charge you per assessment, right, or charge you per candidate or per job, if you are a small business, and that can add up quickly. That can — especially if the job is very popular, you’re getting a lot of people come in. You’ve got to administer a lot of tests. But with the model that we have is you get all the tests that you want for the one subscription fee. So you basically have enough unlimited number of assessments you can use, unlimited number of skill tests, which tests the hard skills, as well as really a super, easy-to-use, state-of-the-art applicant tracking system.
That’s basically what our tool provides as a way to post all the jobs, select all the resumes, but the added-values are in this really predictive tests that help you really make the best hiring decisions and give you more information about these people who are applying.
John: Well, for my listeners, I think if you haven’t gone on their site, go look at this site. There’s a free demo on it, and you should check it out. So I’m going to shift gears a little bit because you’ve got a cool background. I was really excited to have you as a guest, so I want to talk about some of your opinions now, and I want to jump in and ask you what is your definition of a company culture?
Jim: Company culture. What I’m seeing, at least at Cangrade currently, is what is their vision for humanity, right? I’m going big here. What is the vision, the ultimate vision that you want to shape the world, and what is — that must be driving you every day to wake up, get out of bed, and go do these things that you have a vision for. And the collective vision that we have at Cangrade is what if we were to help businesses find the perfect fit employees that actually want to be there, that want to succeed, that want to do that job, that are the right fit because of their personality and the skills and experience that they have, and that people know that they are making the right hire.
On the other side of the coin, we want to help people find the perfect job for them. And I’ll use myself again as an example. I’ve had a variety of different experiences in my life, but this is my first real sales position. However, I was really interested in sales and I’m thinking that I know that’s such a crucial skill in business, but just because I had a marketing background and did some of these other things, I was applying to be in a sales role, then just didn’t get any callbacks. Well, these guy doesn’t have experience, what good can he be, right?
Well, after I took the test, I scored highly enough on the sales personality test at Cangrade, and that’s how I got that interview. So that was my step in the door to this whole new world of sales, which I’m really enjoying, which really gets me out of bed and I can’t wait to come to work and start calling on people and telling them about Cangrade, because this, I feel, is a job that fits my personality. It’s something that I’m really loving, that I’m super excited to do every day, because it gives me opportunities to be on your podcast, gives me the opportunity to build a network out there, and talk to people and try to help them, learn about their businesses. This is a good fit for my personality. This is a tool that I believe that can help anybody find the right job that they, maybe in their life, they have the experience, they have the potential to succeed in, but maybe they just didn’t get the chance. Well, this is their chance to really find the job and the careers and the things that they want to do. So the happier people you have in the job, well guess what, chances are, the more successful they’ll be, the more that your company will succeed. And that’s the vision that we have. That’s our culture. We want to help people succeed and we want to help people find the best careers for them.
John: You know, you said when we first started off a few minutes ago, you want to go big. And I might challenge you a little bit, Jim. I would say that you’re doing what we should do, and we’re all obligated to do, which is leave the world a better place than we found it. You know, be the change you wish to see. We talk about that all the time in our firm, that if you can make the world we live in better one person at a time, you’ve done a wonderful thing. That’s why, for me, that’s why I’m on the earth. That’s why we do what we do.
Jim: I agree.
John: To me, it’s not to sell furniture. Anybody could sell furniture, but can you make a difference in somebody’s business. Cangrade helps someone put their core beliefs and their values in alignment with their goals, because we all know that if your core beliefs and your goals are not aligned, you’re not going to be —that’s what’s called fulfillment, how can one be fulfilled when your core beliefs don’t align with your goals? And so, I’ve heard so many people talk about fulfillment and culture. And so I want to ask you this question, you’ve had a varied background, and you’ve seen companies that have user culture to accelerate their business, maybe you can share a story with them so we could hear from your perspective how you’ve seen that accelerate a business with their culture.
Jim: Yes, absolutely. So I’ve been in a lot of jobs where you basically punch in, punch out every day. Yeah, you might have a good product, but really, what is the passion? And do people at that role, do they really — did they really feel like this is, as you said, is this making the world a better place. And well, chances are, a majority of people either don’t care, hadn’t really thought about it, or they don’t! If they don’t believe in the product, and all they’re at the job for is the paycheck.
Well, I’ve seen the difference what happens when a company has that mentality, where they’re just punch in, and punch out. They get the paycheck, “Hey, I got a mortgage there. I’ve got kids to feed. This is just what I do for eight to ten hours a day.” Okay, but then I’ve seen what happens when you’re at a company that has a culture where — the people really do care. They’ve seen the results; they see the end goals. They know what is the direct benefit of what they’re working so hard every day is produced. And the difference between these two types of companies, these two types of culture, is night and day.
And the more that you can have a culture, where people buy into what you’re doing, they could see the end results, and they know the direct impact of what they’re doing, that subconsciously or consciously, is going to make them fill the extra mile, make that extra phone call, send that extra e-mail, spend that extra hour to read up on the competition, to take the training, to do the things that will make them better tomorrow than they were today. That’s what the impact of a strong company culture, that vision will have on every worker, from the CEO to the intern who just started yesterday. It will have an impact on everything that you do. But if you’re just [inaudible 27:23] let’s say, and you don’t really care at the end, because all you care about is just that paycheck and just whether or not you can support yourself, well, you’ll get exactly what you’re seeking out of that type of company with that experience.
John: Jim, I got to tell you, I’ve shared this with my listeners. It’s one of the reasons that I do this podcast is because I firmly believe that we, as a nation, have the sand shifting under our feet as it relates to building teams and what’s coming into the marketplace as new employees, and what’s retiring and having two kids that are in college.
They look at the world very different than I do in my mid-50s than I did when I was their age, and culture is a tremendous, tremendous driving force for them when they look at companies. They’ll take jobs that get paid 20% less because their culture and the environment basically suck. And they’re going to like, “I’m not doing this.” And I run an AAU Program for young men, for basketball, and they go out the world, and they look at the world differently, when they get their degrees and they’re like, “Hey, John, I got an interview and this one’s going to pay me $60,000, and this one’s going to pay me $48,000, but I like this company. I believe in what they’re doing. These people, wow, it’s horrible. But I looked at the environment they work in and it just seems like you’re in a dead environment.”
So I share that with you because I think that as we go and we build teams and we hire, we need to be aware of that there are different requirements today than there’s ever been, and that just because someone works 80 hours a week, so what? You worked 80 hours a week, I don’t know. Sometimes I want to say, “That’s really good,” or that part of me says, “How smart can you possibly be if you can’t get it done in 50 hours?” So I look at that and I ask you this question: how does the office design and layout match the culture of a company from what you’ve seen and how does it help you engage the staff you have and attract, what I was just talking about, these millennials to companies? Can you share us your feelings on that?
Jim: Oh yeah. So I’ve seen many different types of offices and decorating ideas in different types of setup because I’ve worked in a whole variety of industries, everything from the old school cube farms, which we’ve all seen, with the felt-covered, gray walls and the 4×4 foot cubicle walls between each desk, kind of like you see in an office base. And I’m sure everyone’s familiar with those. I’ve worked in those types of environment.
And I’ve worked in environments where, depending on your pay grade, that affected what type of furniture you could have in your cubicle. So let’s say your pay grade level is, say, 1. Well, you get just your desk. But once you make it to pay grade level number 2, hey, guess what, you’re still on your cubicle, but then, you get a chair. And then you make it to pay grade level 3, and well, we’ll remove one wall of this cubicle and expand it, so that you have now two cubicles, and so on and so forth. So I’ve seen that and I’ve seen that type of effect on the company culture. And guess what, when you build walls, there’s going to be walls between the employees, and say, “Hey look, this guy, he’s got a chair in his cubicle, but I don’t. I wonder what this guy’s doing that’s better than I am at my own job.” It builds subconsciously these types of thoughts and these types of mentalities.
And then where I’m at my current place, a really awesome co-working space in Cambridge, Massachusetts called NGIN, “N-G-I-N”, NGIN Workplace. And it’s just a fantastic place to work. It’s an open setup. There are tables, there are chairs, where you can sit down, take your laptop. Or if you feel like if you’re taking a phone call, there’s private offices where you can go and do that and not disturb others. There’s also these really great conference rooms with glass walls and big screen TV’s. There’s a fully-stocked kitchen with all the coffee you want to drink, which is really important especially in – and it’s just a fantastic place to work, and people are happy.
I notice that people — and you see this a lot, people in startups will obviously do work well. But if you’re going to be working long hours, does it make sense to be in a comfortable environment that really, it’s not a distraction or it’s fun, we have to go there. It’s not a cubicle farm, where it’s just a depressing place to work. No, it’s an open environment. You see a lot of other companies, a lot of other young hustlers, and people following their dream. And that type of energy will definitely affect you, whether you know it or not, if you work in an environment where the energy is upbeat and there’s positive vibrations all around. Well, that will definitely affect you. That’s definitely going to affect your work, and it’s definitely going to affect your end result.
John: I can’t agree with you more. You know, it’s one of the things in our business when we look at taking what is out there in the marketplace and matching it to culture. You know, for us, it’s not about selling a commodity. It’s about matching a culture and a desire from an organization to take a product application, because the reality of what you’re talking about from the days of a cubicle farm to the open environment, those manufacturers are all the same products, it’s just someone with the foresight and the creativity to say, “Let me take this product and apply it in an open concept, so it is comfortable and people will collaborate, and people still have their own space, but it’s shared amongst everybody.” And I think you make a great point. And like what I said earlier, you’re going to spend more time there than you are at home, so it might as well be a cool place. And the other part of that is it doesn’t have to be expensive. It just has to be effective. And I think people get caught up in the fact that, “Oh, it’s going to be expensive.” No, it’s not. It’s got to be effective. It’s kind of like making the wrong hire, that’s really expensive. Now, I want to jump to the lightning round because you’ve been really generous with your time and I don’t want to overstay my welcome. So if I can, let me just jump in there.
John: Jim, is there a book that you feel has changed your life?
Jim: Absolutely, a book called “How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie. I’m sure a lot of you listeners are familiar with this book. Well, this is really the first that’s called self-help for a lack of a better word that I can come up with this morning. But really, the first self-help book that I picked up. And since then, I read a number of these on a regular basis, things that are helping me with sales and motivation, and life in general. But this was the first one that I picked up. And I picked this up because back when I was a freshman in high school, I just saw it on a library shelf, and said, “Oh, it’s an interesting title, very specific type of title, so it looks interesting.” So I picked it up, and it really sets the foundation for, well, the title says, how to win friends and influence people, because when you think about it, look at all the successful people that you know. Chances are, more than likely, that all of these are likable people. They have a big sphere of influence. They have many connections. Did they get that from being a jerk, from being a grumpy person that nobody wants to talk to, that nobody wants to business with, that nobody wants to refer to, that nobody wants to really spend any time with? No, these people are the types of folks that you want to know, that you want to be in their world, because you’ll leave a conversation with that person in a better mood than you were before. Or you go to them for knowledge. And this is really a book that will help you to set that foundation.
I’m really lucky that I found that book at a relatively young age, such at an impressionable age. I feel like it really set me on a good path, and so I recommend that to everyone. If you haven’t read it yet, please check out, by Dale Carnegie, “How to Win Friends and Influence People.”
John: Great book. Do you have a quote you go to for inspiration?
Jim: Absolutely. It’s a quote called – by Zig Ziglar, he’s a very famous motivational speaker and sales trainer. And it’s probably his most famous quote, “You can have everything you want in life if you just help enough other people get what they want.” And that applies to so many different areas, not just sales, although it’s absolutely perfect for sales. But really, for anything that you’re doing in life. And it’s true, if you think about it. If you want to become successful, if you want to be that person that people look up to, that people aspire to be, if you want to help others, well, you can start by helping others, by doing the same that you want to do. Because the more people that you help, there will always be people out there who need help and who want to look to you for advice, the more that you can provide that value, that you can make that connection.
Chances are, the more that they will then remember you when it comes time to refer business or when they think of you when, “Hey, I saw this great idea. I saw this great and I just thought of you first.” You want to be that person because you’re the person that they turn to when they need help.
John: Absolutely. Okay, now what company do you admire most as it relates to their culture other than the company you work for today?
Jim: It’s a company, and a local company to us that’s pretty much known worldwide at this point. It’s a company called HubSpot. They’re based in Cambridge as well. And what HubSpot is, it’s an inbound marketing software that’s really set the standard when it comes to the inbound marketing, which is the social media, the blogging, the websites, the critical tools that businesses need in today’s world to get more sales prospects and get more leads. And what’s the first thing that you think of when, especially when you learn of a new company, John, what’s the first thing that you do when you learn about a new company, you want to find out more?
John: I go online and start searching for them, is there any comments, what’s their website look like, do they have a blog? What’s their Twitter, anything. Are they tied together from a social media standpoint? Do they get it?
Jim: Exactly. Yeah, you go to their website first and you coordinate, let’s say if you want to find out about their new product, well, you Google something. And then chances are, you might find a blog or some piece of content written by someone who knows what they’re saying is the answer to the question that you’re asking the search engine. And that’s the software that HubSpot produces. It’s inbound marketing software that helps you capture those leads to see where these people are coming from. What pages they’re looking at on your website. What they’re engaged with. What they’re engaged with on the social media. And it’s really changed the game in the business world today. It’s really been a disruptive force, and so many business and so many people have had their lives changed by this company. And what I love about this company is — and since I’m a marketing person by trade — these guys, Brian and Dharmesh, who started the company, are marketing wizards. And because, well, they made a career out of teaching people how to be marketers, and they’re marketers themselves.
So in addition to this great piece of software that a lot of companies are using, they also put on a tremendous conference call, the inbound conference which takes place every year where they invite many different people from all different backgrounds to give speeches and presentations on things like marketing, inbound marketing and sales, and not just the business aspect, but they also invite tons of inspirational speakers to share their story, to really help you figure out, well, what is it that I’m here on earth to do? What is my value? How can I help others? And so this is just a company that I admire.
I’ve been to their headquarters for a number of events, and I’ve met a number of their employees. I’ve always walked away just super impressed and definitely a company that I would love to model our own company after, and someday to create something similar to that.
John: Okay, why should people work for Cangrade?
Jim: Well, if you’re interested in a position that will help others to find the career that will support themselves, support their families and really change the old school way of business: “this is how we’ve always done things, and which is just the way things are”. If that’s your mentality, to really disrupt that and change that, then I encourage you to check out Cangrade. We are currently hiring for a number of different types of positions. You can see those on our website. But if you share our vision of helping people to find the best careers and helping businesses to succeed, then I definitely recommend that you check us out.
John: Now, here we go into our last question, Jim, it’s the big one, and you’ll have to humor me because you’re on BE Culture Radio. So start answering with “be,” okay?
John: If you have to describe the culture of Cangrade in three words, starting with “be,” what would that description be?
Jim: Here we go. Be hustling, be useful and be fearless. You want me to give a little description on what I mean by these?
Jim: So the first one, “be hustling.” Well, it is a startup. It is a small company. We’ve been around for a few years and we are making revenue, but guess what, just because you made some success today, it doesn’t mean that’s guaranteed for tomorrow. Just because you took a breath right now, it doesn’t mean you don’t care about your next breath. So that’s why it’s really important to never rest on anything. And you should always be striving, and that would be hustling, and always be figuring out ways that you can improve yourself. So that’s definitely a value that we have.
The next one is “be useful.” There’s always something to do, that you should never just be stuck in the rut of “I think I’m good, I can just rest now.” You always want to provide some sort of value either to the company or to others with whatever it is that you’re doing, so “be useful” is the second.
And the last one is “be fearless.” A lot of people I find are stagnant in whatever it is they’re doing. And the number one reason is fear, fear of failure, or in some occasions, fear of success. You know, once you have some success, that might bring out a whole bunch of other problems. Well, guess what, I feel that it’s awesome to have problems, because when you have problems, that means you’re growing. That means that you can find out ways to solve those problems. And the more problems that you solve, doesn’t that give you more experience? Doesn’t that give you more knowledge which would ultimately be to your benefit? Because guess what, any other challenges that would arise down the road, inevitably there will be challenges, we’ll be prepared to face it. And so that last one is “be fearless.” Do not be afraid to fail. Do not be afraid to succeed. And do not be afraid to learn.
John: Perfect. That’s phenomenal. I love it when my guests give me a description after. It just closes the loop for us. Jim, I can’t thank you enough for taking the time and spending it with my listeners and myself today. If my listeners want to connect with you, can you share with them how to connect with you? How to connect with your blog, your company and you personally?
Jim: Yeah. You can check us out at Cangrade.com, and if you want to send me an e-mail, my e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d be happy to hear from your listeners. I also run a website where I share articles, and I write articles and I do interviews with other entrepreneurs on how to live a successful life. I share business tips, how to sell, how to use social media, how to blog, and some other useful content. And so my personal website where I write these articles is theideahunters.net, it’s www.theidea—“I-D-E-A”—hunters.net. So check that out as well.
John: Perfect, and Jim, I never end this show without sharing with my guest my favorite quote from Maya Angelou which is, “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” And we certainly hope we made you feel like part of our tribe. And we’re certainly hoping we made you feel welcome and your opinions were valid and they matter to us. So I thank you for coming on. I hope you’ll come back and visit us in six months and tell us more about how Cangrade is doing and how you’re doing. If you would, I would appreciate it. And in your travels, if you see someone that you feel would benefit from being a guest on BE Culture Radio, please send them my way.
Jim: Absolutely. Thank you so much, John. I really appreciate this. Thank you.
John: We enjoyed it. Thanks so much and be well.
Jim: Alright, you too. Bye-bye.