The Force Behind Your Salesforce
Transcript: Jamie Coakley: Robot disguised as an alien because inside he's a robot. Jonathan Gass: I think he's an alien who uses a robotic body. Jamie Coakley: What am I? Jonathan Gass: Not even close. That's not even close. Jamie Coakley: Sometimes my team will just be like ... Speaker 3: We're live now, guys. Sorry. Jamie Coakley: Oh. Jonathan Gass: Oh, awesome. Let's get some music going here. We'll get Jamie pumped up here. Jamie Coakley: Can't wait. Okay, pretty good. Jonathan Gass: Yeah. Jamie Coakley: I like it. Jonathan Gass: Then we can stop and play more alien versus robot. Jamie Coakley: Alien robots, fun game. Janet's watching. It's her game. Jonathan Gass: All right. All right. Welcome back everybody to another episode of Founder Sessions. I'm really excited this week because we have a special guest, Jamie Coakley. We're gonna be formal a little bit, which we're not normally. Jamie Coakley: Yeah. Jonathan Gass: Who is both friend, colleague, superstar- Jamie Coakley: Thank you. Jonathan Gass: Amazingness. I just set some incredibly high expectations for you. Jamie Coakley: Sorry, it's not that great. Jonathan Gass: So don't let us down. Jamie Coakley: Okay. Jonathan Gass: Jamie, why don't you give a quick introduction for yourself, and we get to set up some ground rules for what we want to cover here. Jamie Coakley: Okay, cool. I am the CEO of a company known as TwentyPine, here in new York. My background is primarily in sales and recruitment. Formerly, I ran the New York office of [inaudible 00:01:22]. We're a sales recruiting agency. TwentyPine actually does specifically salesforce.com recruiting. So, another niche market. I'm from the Pacific northwest, grew up in California and Las Vegas, weirdly enough. I've been in New York for three years and absolutely love it here. Jonathan Gass: Yeah, a lesson we learned before this, is never ask her where she's from. Jamie Coakley: A lot of places. I moved a lot as a kid. Jonathan Gass: I think, given that context- Jamie Coakley: Sure. Jonathan Gass: It probably makes sense to talk people, as just a covers point who are looking to hire. Jamie Coakley: Sure. Jonathan Gass: Team building. I think for you, scaling is a really important subject matter I would think about. I know we have a number of things we'll talk here that will cover that, but I'm just trying to provide some high-level subject matter that people could value, could learn from. You can bring the table. Jamie Coakley: Sounds good. Jonathan Gass: Even a bit, because you weren't a [inaudible 00:02:12] founder. So, the challenges for a CEO who came in and took over from a founder. Jamie Coakley: Yeah, absolutely. Jonathan Gass: So, why don't we talk a little bit about recruiting. Jamie Coakley: Okay. Jonathan Gass: First, I don't think most people understand what a recruiting business is like, a recruiting agency. They probably gauge this, they pay fees. What's it like being in the business? Jamie Coakley: Yeah, absolutely. I actually fell into recruitment five years ago. I was in a sales job, and I worked at Yelp right out of school, cut my teeth in cold calling 100 dials a day. I loved what I did from a team perspective, super collaborative, competitive, hitting quote, just that energy in the office. I didn't necessarily love what I was selling to local business owners. So I fell, like everyone else who I talked to that's in recruitment, you fall into recruitment. You don't necessarily want to wake up and want to be a recruiter one day. I fell into recruitment by meeting my former CEO at the Super Bowl, really random encounter, and signed an offer 10 days later. It provided for me, at really young in my career, the ability to sell and connect with people and be competitive and have everything I liked, hitting quota, all that stuff, with the combination of the warm and fuzzy side of things, which is helping people find jobs. So, I think form a business standpoint, that's the first, on the outside people see, "Oh, recruiters. You're in HR. You help people find jobs." That is probably the biggest misconception that's out there. We help companies scale. From a business standpoint, what I didn't realize I would fall in love with real young was making the first sales hire placement or making a really significant salesforce.com hire for a company. You help businesses realize their full potential. You help them reach certain goals by either enabling their teams to better access data or just leverage the technologies that they've bought and they've invested in. So, there's this really rewarding experience of not only helping people find jobs and being a career coach and "This is how you interview," but on the flip side, making companies grow. Having been in the business now for six years, I've seen companies we've helped hire that have gone through exits that have gotten Series B, Series C funding rounds, and that's a super rewarding experience overall. I think the challenges is that you have to understand, from a business standpoint, what are the challenges of your customer, really deeply, and I think one hire, even though one salesforce developer could be really great in one role doesn't necessarily mean they're going to be great in another. There's a lot of consultation that happens when you first meet a customer or client and say, "Okay, what do you think you need?" That's how we start, and through full discovery and understanding what their needs are, you actually don't need a $200,000 a year developer, you need someone for a two-month contract to help you get some work done, and then potentially a different type of hire down the line. So, I think that is also a rewarding experience of just uncovering the needs of the people that we work with. Recruiters also have a really bad reputation in the market. We're known to be sharky and not call you back. People have probably, if you're on LinkedIn, you've received email that are like, "This has nothing to do with me." Jonathan Gass: To be clear, Jamie's only at most 70% of those things. Jamie Coakley: No, not at all. I think the reason that TwentyPine is doing very well and the reason my past companies had done really well is because we take a totally different approach, to not only the candidate, but the client side. Every interaction counts. So, our whole mission at TwentyPine is to really restore integrity to recruitment, to build sustainable teams, which I think when people get on the phone with us, they're often very surprised. They're like, "Wow, I've never had someone ask me what I want to do in five years." That's a great question. Jonathan Gass: For you guys, your primary client is the companies themselves. Jamie Coakley: Yes. Jonathan Gass: So, if you're a company, if you're a founder, an executive, and you're gonna engage with a recruiting firm, what should they know? What are the top three, four tips that they should be aware of before picking a recruiting firm to work with? Jamie Coakley: Yeah. I think understanding one like, "Has this recruitment firm had success in the past working on placements that you're looking to hire?" If they haven't, what is their approach to that? If they're like, "We haven't worked on this type of role, but these are our thoughts, here's some candidates we came to mind." If they're taking a proactive approach outside of me being their comfort zone, they potentially could deliver. So, you have to evaluate how they're interacting with you. The advice I also give the companies is recruiters need to be asking great questions. As an agency, we become an extension of your company. So, our values have to be in line, how we operate has to be similar. So, I think that's something that not a lot of companies do. They see recruiters as this resume feeder, like, "Send me a bunch of your people." That is not what we do. We are consultants. I would rather send you three people over the course of a week, and you hire one of those people, than send you 30 and we get nowhere. So, make sure when you're evaluating an agency, listen to the types of questions that they're asking you. Are they going down a form and like, "Okay, do you want three to five years of experience? Is this the comp range?", rather than, "What's your founding story? What are you guys all about?" That's a really important question to understand from a 30,000-foot view, "What is your company's mission?", because that says a lot about an organization and how their culture is run. If a recruiter is not asking those questions, they're not gonna be able to find you candidates that fit that. Jonathan Gass: Yeah. Jamie Coakley: Then third, I would say the followup. Is this recruiter making you their top priority? When you get off a call with a recruiter, do they send you a followup email? "Thanks for your time. Here are the things we talked about. Here's what you can expect from me in the next 24 to 48 hours."? Jonathan Gass: Because if they're not doing it with you- Jamie Coakley: They're definitely not gonna do it when you have a search life. You want to know that I'm your number one priority even if you have a number of other searches going on. How are you managing your time and prioritizing my needs, because if you're not gonna deliver in the way that I need you to, this partnership's never gonna work out. Jonathan Gass: Now you're engaged with the client, how about the people side? I think this is even useful for screening purposes, if the people aren't engaged with recruiters, how to look at people. Jamie Coakley: Sure. Jonathan Gass: Do you have a process? How do you think about it? Jamie Coakley: Yeah, absolutely. I think a lot of companies make the mistake of, "We need to hire someone. Okay, we need an account executive, or we needs a sales force admin. Let's start interviewing salesforce admins." Jonathan Gass: Okay, guys. Jamie's excited. She sped up a little bit there. Jamie Coakley: Oh, speak slowly. Jonathan Gass: I'm gonna ask her to speak a little bit slower for us. Jamie Coakley: Slow way down. Sorry. I think the first and foremost thing that you should do as a company is create a list of criteria that you're looking for. So, how are we going to evaluate each individual based on culture fit, might be one of the things you're looking at. You have to know what your culture is. Is it intense? Is it collaborative? Is it transparent? Is it hardworking, work hard, play hard? You have to understand. Everyone interviewing has to understand the criteria, as well. Create that list. We have four to five things we evaluate internally, every single hire, it's almost like a scorecard. "One through five, how much are you of this?" And if there's anything that's a two or a three, and you're not ranking high, that affects your ultimate score. We don't hire anyone above a certain score. What that's allowed us to do, and I recommend to all of our clients creating the same type of criteria, is it allows you to have a benchmark where it's an unbiased evaluation of a candidate. I think a lot of people make gut check hires. They're like, "Well, we really like this person. We were gonna start him. I would have a beer with him." Having a beer with someone is not gonna grow our company. That is important. I don't want to work next to someone who sucks, but that doesn't necessarily mean that they're gonna be a bad fit just because maybe you don't want to spend all your time with them during the week. Jonathan Gass: Yeah, although, there is a line people should draw culturally, where they're thinking, "If I have to sit in a room all day with this guy, I may hate myself, or I may start faking injuries to get out of the room or something." Jamie Coakley: Absolutely. I hope it's not that bad. Jonathan Gass: Drinking castor oil, "Oh, my stomach. Guess I gotta go work from home." Jamie Coakley: I think companies should not be afraid to hire outside their culture. When they're hiring for maybe a role, say if you're a sales organization and you need to hire your first accounting person, the probability of you finding a really salesy accountant is low, so hire the best person for the job, but you can't go and you can't start sprinting towards the interview process in your hire unless you have your criteria that you're looking for. I think sometimes this comes in the form of a job description, but it's deeper than that. It's a deep understanding of the questions you ask, almost robotic in a sense. You need to make sure every single person evaluating certain aspects is having the same conversation so that candidate A and candidate B were asked the same thing, and you can assess, "Okay, well, they said this about their past experience. He didn't really have that great of an example." It helps you make better, smarter hires, but if you don't have a repeatable interview process, you're already failing. Jonathan Gass: That includes judging on the technical skillset and then judging on these cultural aspects, many of which you've covered, which are important. And those things, you could be a salesy organization, but if you're like you called a work hard play hard organization, and you bring somebody's who's like, "I kinda just want to be nine to five and get home and not ... " Myself, especially I think, when I hear work hard play hard, you're embedding yourself as a livelihood. It's not just from a financial standpoint, but from a social standpoint. Jamie Coakley: Yeah. Jonathan Gass: Right? Jamie Coakley: I think it's just about digging deep. When a candidate is talking to a recruiter on my team and they say, "I really want to work at a company with great culture," we ask 5 to 10 more questions, "What is culture to you? What is good culture? Is it work hard play hard? Is it leave at five, work/life balance? Is it accessibility to leadership team? Is it work from home autonomy, flexibility?" Culture means so many different things, but it's the company's values that dictate how you behave as an organization. There's a lot to that. Jonathan Gass: Yeah. Jamie Coakley: I think also, just digging deep with every candidate like, "Oh, I want good culture," don't stop there, keep going. Tech assessments and things like that are a little more white and black, but you have to vent out certain capabilities and ask for examples in people's past work. Ask for references. I will check two references from a candidate. When we hire them, I'll probably do three to four more backdoor references. Jonathan Gass: Yeah, when you say backdoor references, what do you mean by that? Jamie Coakley: That means, someone's interviewing with me, I'm gonna go on LinkedIn, look at their profile, see who I'm connected with or who maybe our second or third degree connections are, and I'm gonna shoot messages off to those people and say, "Hey, do you know Johnathan? Have you worked with him? What was that experience like?" Jonathan Gass: Yeah. Jamie Coakley: I'm gonna find some common threads that I can get a reference. No one sends a bad reference. When you send your references, hopefully those are people that are gonna speak very positively on your behalf, it doesn't always happen, so prep your references. I think I don't actually judge a reference by what they say all the time about a person, I judge how quickly they get back to me. Jonathan Gass: Interesting. Jamie Coakley: How quickly are you going to get on the phone with me? Jonathan Gass: I actually think, we do reference calls, one of the most important things is the questions you ask. You could be like, "Are they good at their job? Did you enjoy working with them?" Of course they're gonna say yes to the references, but more important than that is, "Okay, walk me through stuff they did, or the kind of process they did it," and see if they align with the stuff you're doing. Jamie Coakley: Sure. Jonathan Gass: Because if you think your whole belief, your whole theory is that, "Oh, there's alignment," and you suddenly realize, "Wow, they just described all this work that we don't do, and we're trying to hire somebody that's worked over here." Then you know it's not a good fit, and I think going that layer deep on references and having thoughtful questions is really important. Jamie Coakley: Yeah, the thoughtful question piece is so important. There's a question I stole actually from Travis Ousley, who was the former Head of Talent at Managed by Q. He did a references check with me, and I was like, "This is an amazing question." He asked the reference person, "Okay, I hire this individual, say in six months they don't work out. Why? What was the reason I fired them?" It puts the reference person on the spot, and usually great candidates will be like, "I can't think of one reason. Maybe your company sucks," or they put it back on you. Sometimes you'll get the, "Well, maybe their ego got in the way, or maybe they weren't collaborative with the team," and it kind of feels like they're fishing, but there's something under there that you can dig into. So, think of thoughtful questions that are outside the norm of, "What was your experience like with this person?" They're gonna say great, they're gonna say they recommend hiring them again, especially if they provided the reference. So, think of those questions before you make those calls, for sure. Jonathan Gass: Does recruiting for tech roles, and sounds like you were in tech literally from the get-go. Is recruiting for tech roles or startup roles different than other companies? Jamie Coakley: Yes. It's different for every company regardless of the position. At TwentyPine, we work with three-person startups that are hiring their first consultant to come in and help them build their sales force distance out or implement it, all the way up to fortune 100s. Sales force is industry agnostics. So, it's kind of this weird or ideal customer profile is off the charts all over the place. It's so different for each person because the needs of that client are different at the time you speak that you speak to them, they may be different a year later, so you have to constantly be re-qualified and rediscovering what the client's needs are, as well as what the candidate wants, because if the candidate wanted three months ago, they might not want six months later. Life happens. It's really crazy working with people because so many changes can take place in someone's life that affect your motivations and what you're looking for. So, yeah. It's a lot. It's very different. Jonathan Gass: If you had a top list of reasons people probably don't work out in jobs, that you might say, "This is a pretty good list to keep top of mind," as you're hiring, things to avoid? Jamie Coakley: I think a really easy one is the person doesn't do what they said they did. That is so avoidable. Through reference checks. We actually have people, when we hire internally, do two take-home assignment exercises where you're either calling my cellphone and leaving a voicemail, I want to hear what you sound like on the phone and under pressure as a TwentyPine recruiter, how would you approach that, and I also want to see write an email as if you were prospecting me. How do you do the job to make sure you're capable of it? With tech recruiting, we'll have a tech assessment, you either pass or you fail. Sometimes clients will ask for providing samples of their work, which can get tricky because intellectual property and things like that, but the right candidate is gonna do homework if they're excited about the opportunity. They're going to find a way to provide you with examples. So, I think it shows initiative on that part, but definitely can they do the job, for some reason, it's common, it's a sill mistake, but it happens. I think a majority of the time, the people we place, they work out. TwentyPine is a really great, once someone accepts an offer, they start, and then once they get going, they stay there for a long time. Our mission is to build sustainable teams. I think why that happens is because we ask really tough questions on both sides. We're constantly probing and figuring out why this won't work out, so when it does, we're sure of it. But then there's crazy stories, like people don't show up on their first day. Who are you? That's not normal. Counteroffers, one thing you can do to avoid that is as a hiring manager, ask the candidate, "If you were to leave and they presented you a counteroffer, would you consider that? What would it take for you to stay at your current company?" I think a lot of recruiting people and hiring managers in general don't ask that question. We ask it on our first call with candidates. "What's going on? Why are you on the phone with me today?" And they say, "Oh, I hate my boss. He's really micromanagy. I don't like him." It's like, "Okay, can you move to a different team? Have you tried to solve the problem internally?" It builds a lot of trust with us as an agency, like, "Hey, I don't want to just send your resume everywhere. I want what's best for you. Who have you talked to about this issue? Have you asked for more money?" You'd be so surprised how many people are like, "No." "Okay, well, let's do this. Let's hop off the phone. Why don't you put a one-on-one on your boss's calendar tomorrow, ask for more money. I can help coach you on how to have that conversation. If it doesn't go well, let's talk about opportunities. If it does, great. Congrats." Jonathan Gass: Nobody's been fired for asking for more money, right? Jamie Coakley: No. So, try to solve the problem before you start interviewing because it encourages. As a hiring manager, if you're hiring, or as a recruiter, encourage your candidates to try to solve the problem, too, because you just end up not wasting a lot of time. And ultimately you end up building better relationships because you're doing what's best for the person. Jonathan Gass: Yeah. We've talked mostly about people, about recruiting, team building. Let's talk about being a CEO. Jamie Coakley: Okay. Jonathan Gass: You where a lot of hats. How do you manage your time? What does your day-to-day look like? What drives you nuts? Jamie Coakley: My day-to-day is packed. I'm back-to-back in meetings. Actually, my team got an email late last night that said, "We're clearing the calendar. It's end of month, start of Q4," I'm gonna be on the floor. I think it's just being better at prioritization, and even when you look at your calendar int eh morning, you're like, "Oh, my gosh. Today is gonna be so insane." Is that the right thing for your business? Jonathan Gass: Yes. Jamie Coakley: It might not be, so do something about it. Being an CEO, I think, has been super interesting. I don't feel like much has changed, there's just more on my plate and more pressure to make sure that everyone is happy and delivering and being successful. What keeps me up at night is, "Are we making the right decisions by growing in this way? How do I get the team that I have now" everyone joined the startup to have a fast upward mobility and growth in their career for the most part. I don't know why you would join a really small company if you didn't want to grow. So, are we providing my team with every opportunity possible to scale? Those are things that definitely keep me up. Jonathan Gass: S, you re talking about prioritization. Jamie Coakley: Yeah. Jonathan Gass: First of all, Jamie keeps stealing my questions from my list over here. Jamie Coakley: Sorry. Jonathan Gass: That's okay. That's okay. We're having a great convo. Jamie Coakley: You kind of had a three-part question, though. Jonathan Gass: I throw it at you. Jamie Coakley: It's not my fault. Jonathan Gass: That's on me. Are you good at saying no? Jamie Coakley: Not always, and it's definitely a huge weakness. I think I have a very serving type of leadership style. I think ultimately, it comes down to one of the things I do every night is I write a daily plan. It's the silliest thing. It's one of the first things I train on my junior recruiters to do is write out what you're gonna do today, and you want to have the things at the top that you do first be the closest to the money. Where's the first deal? Is this someone in an interview, or is this person a first candidate call? You need to be prioritizing things that are closer to deals for a sales culture. I think that kind of prioritization helps me focus in on stuff. You have to say no. You're gonna not please everyone. I think that's really hard. I think as a CEO or any type of leader, as a sales manager, as the team lead, as low as the totem pole goes, you have to be great at delegating. So, pulling someone into a room and being like, "I need you. I'm having a tough time. I don't have time for this. Can you help me with this? You are so great at it. It would mean a lot to me, and it would mean a lot to that person if you could help them." I think that's kind of where we get this culture of empowerment of the team stepping up to do more than just their job. That's, again, why they joined at startup. They want to where many hats. But if you're not delegating and you're holding everything in and doing everything at once, you're going to fail. You're also going to burn out, and that's real. So, just be mindful. I think that's super important. Jonathan Gass: Let's end it on one note, which is what two or three pieces of advice would you give founders overall, or CEOs, or people in a similar role, that you would give them in terms of how to find success? Jamie Coakley: How to find success. I think one, don't sweat the small or the big stuff. You're not most likely not making a decision today that's gonna affect the future of your business and have it crumble tomorrow. Fires aren't truly fires, even though for you, it feels like maybe the world is ending in that moment. Everything is fixable. Everything. So, don't freak out. Jonathan Gass: Some fires you shouldn't put out right away because it's not the most important thing. Jamie Coakley: Yeah, or like you're gonna have an emotional reaction to it. So, take a minute. Table it and be like, "Let's come back to this." I think just being okay with failing and knowing that it's not the end of the world, because I think as a founder you're most likely putting that type of pressure on yourself because you put yourself in that position. You're a rare breed. I think two, prioritization and delegation and time management ties together. If you're not doing things that are most important to your business now, not only now, but later, you need to be carving out time to be strategic because you're probably in a reactive role with a small team if you're a startup. If you're not taking time to have committee meetings or think strategically about a business division, you're never gonna get to it. It's gonna keep moving. One thing I do, is on my calendar, if I move something like that time that I had to think, I'll literally change the invite to second attempt. It holds me accountable when you're on the third or fourth attempt. You're like, "Ooh, girl, you better get to this. This is being moved and moved and moved." Jonathan Gass: Also, figure out personally, why are you moving it? Jamie Coakley: Yes. Jonathan Gass: Is there something you're avoiding? Jamie Coakley: Absolutely. Jonathan Gass: Or, have you committed yourself to too many things, and this is the thing you think you can pull off? And the real answer is, pull off something else because you're over-committed, so you can make this happen. Jamie Coakley: Yeah. And I think the third is just, enjoy the winds. I'm super bad at this. I'm the type A, set the goal, need to hit it, and I forget when I hit it to pause and enjoy that moment. So, when you don't do that, your team is not doing that, and that's how you lose people. Take them out for a beer to celebrate, even if it wasn't a great week. If there were things that were good, let's celebrate those wins, and pause and enjoy it, because if you're a founder or a CEO, you've done something right. And yeah, the world's not gonna end if things go wrong. Just enjoy it. Jonathan Gass: What were some of the favorite ways either when you're running a company or when you've been a team, how you've celebrated with, for some of those memorable moments? Jamie Coakley: I think it depends. As a good leader, you should know how your team wants to be recognized, because I have a few members on my team, and they're probably watching right now turning bright red. Jonathan Gass: Hey, guys. Jamie Coakley: And they don't like to be recognized publicly. Jonathan Gass: Yeah. Jamie Coakley: So, maybe it's a card that you leave on their desk, a really special note of like, "When you did this, you took our team, our company, our brand, our vision, and mission to the next level." That little, tiny note made their day. I think those moments, honestly, more so than spraying champagne on someone when they close a huge deal if that happens, those thoughtful little moments of recognition I think are much more special than the big parties that you could throw for people. Jonathan Gass: Yeah. One of my favorites is we took her to go play laser tag. Jamie Coakley: Oh, so fun. Jonathan Gass: I'm also a massive type A, so my team could tell you how insane I get when we do things like this. Jamie Coakley: That's hyper-competitive. Jonathan Gass: Bt I was not the only one doing it. There were people literally with a gun crawling on the ground, even though, to be fair, you just walk up and shoot them. It was just amazing that people- Jamie Coakley: Passionate. Jonathan Gass: Really got into it. Absolutely. Yeah, shout out to me and [Merrill 00:25:59] on that one. Yeah before we cut off, thank you Nam Le, the mane behind the camera. He's always killing it. Jamie, thank you so much for joining us this weekend. Jamie Coakley: Thank you. Thank you for having me. Jonathan Gass: And guys, we'll see you next week, and look forward to more learnings.