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Blake Emal: Welcome to the Yours in Marketing podcast. On this episode, I speak with power connector and founder at NHP Talent Group Adam Posner. On this episode today, speaking with Adam, we talk about his time with VaynerMedia and really what kind of a person Gary Vaynerchuk was to him and how it was to work with him.
Really interesting stuff there, and also talk about podcasting; he’s a fellow podcaster, so we talk about hosting a podcast, starting a podcast, if you even should, and if so, why you should try starting a podcast. What are the benefits? How can that help your bottom line? How can it help your personal brand? Then the flip side of that: who shouldn’t start a podcast?
Maybe some of you are contemplating that, and maybe you shouldn’t start a podcast. This can kind of help you lean to one direction. We also talk about his experience as the founder and Managing Director of NHP Talent Group, which is where he currently is as the founder, and why he loves connecting people and employers, and we talk about that passion.
What you’re going to get out of this episode, if you listen all the way to the end, is how to go about starting a podcast, why or why not you should try starting a podcast, the logistics behind that, how to increase your bottom line with it. Also, some really interesting information about Gary Vaynerchuk and what it’s like to work with him, and then finally, the power of connection people and companies together, and what makes a great candidate stand out over a mediocre candidate and vice versa: what makes companies stand out to candidates over a mediocre company?
So please, without further ado, let’s introduce Adam Posner. Please take a listen all the way to the end. I think you’re really going to like this one.
So Adam, how’s it going today? How you feeling?
Adam Posner: Doing well, man. Thanks for having me on. Appreciate it.
Blake Emal: Yeah, so we got a lot of great stuff to talk about today, but first and foremost, I want to get started on something that, for me, is really interesting. As somebody that, I follow a lot of different thought leaders on social media. Obviously you can’t really be on Instagram or LinkedIn without knowing Gary Vaynerchuk, so you-
You had the opportunity of working at VaynerMedia in New York, and I want to extract some of the tidbits of knowledge that you accrued there and dive into a little bit of your experience.
Adam Posner: Absolutely, and just to bring your audience up to speed, I do this real quick all the time. My career story: born and raised New Yorker, 15 years working in advertising and marketing. About four years ago, I was lucky enough to land an awesome job over at VaynerMedia; I was Group Director managing a couple lines of business. I had the opportunity to work closely with Gary on a couple of things and really observe the man in action, but it’s not just about Gary there; it’s a fantastic other team as well, and long story short, I did not bring my A-game. Dude, I had some personal things going on, I had some other stuff, and I lost my job. I got let go from Vayner, and it was a real critical moment for me because I had to really look deep down inside and say, “Hey, is this what I want to be doing with my life moving forward?”
“Double Down on Your Strengths.”
The answer was no, and I pivoted into recruiting, but the real cool piece about it was that day when I got fired, it was one of the worst days of my life. I sat there with my head in my hands at the verge of tears, and Gary comes into the room. We had about an hour long discussion about life, about what’s important in life and what you want to be doing and being focused, and Blake, he said the single most important piece of advice to me that I’ve ever received and I put into action: he said, “Adam, you need to stop focusing on the things that you suck at and double down on your strengths.”
I let that sink in for a minute, and Gary’s like, “Well what are you thinking about? What are you thinking about doing?” I said, “Listen, I failed. I don’t know if this is what I want to be doing. I don’t feel it in my heart anymore, and I’ve been thinking about recruiting. I have some friends that do recruiting.”
That was it. Gary’s eyes lit up; he’s like, “Dude, you’d be awesome at recruiting. You were born for it. Go f-ing do it.” I don’t know if I can curse on your show or not, but-
Blake Emal: Yeah, we’ll bleep it out.
Adam Posner: He’s like, “Yeah, go F-ing do it, man. Go do it.” With Gary’s blessing, I pivoted into the world of recruiting and haven’t looked back, man.
Blake Emal: That’s fantastic, and I definitely want to get into that recruiting a little bit later, but sticking with this a little bit, is his persona the same in person as it comes across in social media?
Adam Posner: Yes. Gary is the real deal. He says what he means and he means what he says. When you become that big, you’re going to have a lot of haters. You’re going to have a lot of people trash-talking and saying that you’re all talk, but he is the most genuine, real dude I’ve ever met. He doesn’t come from the traditional agency world; he built it himself. He built his own brand. It’s a different approach to this modern age of marketing, and he’s the real deal. He’s someone I stay in touch with now to this day, from close, from afar. I have a couple of opportunities a year to touch base with him, and it’s those moments in time that I hold dearest and closest to me.
Blake Emal: What’s the company culture over there, and what did you find difficult working at VaynerMedia?
Adam Posner: That’s a fantastic question, and let’s caveat that with saying it’s been over four years since I’ve been there, so a lot has changed.
Blake Emal: Sure.
Adam Posner: When I was there, it was still early on; I was in the low 300s in the employee count, so I was still early on. I think they’re way over a thousand at this point, just to give your audience some perspective, and culture was interesting. I equate it to working inside of a beehive, literally. It was a swarm of activity and action. It was, at times, unorganized chaos, sometimes organized chaos, and I think that’s kind of really what was part of the magic sauce there, what the clients were looking for. They were looking for something non-traditional, they were looking for energy and creative ideas that came from different sources.
I think with the speed of social media, that’s where Vayner excelled and exceeding at because it didn’t have process paralysis like other ad agencies. In social media, you got to get a post out in five seconds. You got to be able to respond to what’s happening immediately and not like a week for something to get approved and go through the process, and edits and revisions. I think that led to the culture as well.
A very important point also, at that time at Vayner, the culture was evolving; it was very built around Gary. Now, I mean I’m not there anymore, but I think the culture has really evolved to being about the agency and not just being so Gary-centric.
Blake Emal: That’s crucial, obviously, as you scale. It can’t be all about-
Adam Posner: No.
Blake Emal: One person. That’s going to fail, no matter who you are.
So working there, did you find any inspiration of how you wanted to do things if you were to go on your own? For example, like you saw what Gary would do, what other people would do, maybe in terms of social media, building a personal brand. What was something that stuck with you that you still do?
Adam Posner: Spot on, Blake. Spot on, Blake, and we’ll get to the personal branding in a minute, but everything that I’m doing now is predicated on my past experience being a social media digital marketing practitioner. I understand the technical side of building a brand, I understand the back of end, how to drive the performance marketing piece, the SEO, how to build the video piece as well, but something else more importantly I learned is about delegating and finding the resources. For me, I’m a consultant. I do contingency and contract recruitment, so my time is valuable; there’s a dollar amount on it. For me, it’s about finding resources for video production, for audio production that I could spend a little bit of money here and then use my time to make more money in another client or another step.
Blake Emal: Let’s transition into the podcast, then, because that is a part of-
Adam Posner: 100 percent.
How Adam’s Pos-Cast Began
Blake Emal: Your brand. So how’d you first begin starting a podcast? How did you make that decision like, “I need to begin starting a podcast because here’s the opportunity?” What was that moment for you decided that?
Adam Posner: You know, it was a couple things: one, I needed to build my personal, and I think there’s a blend between your personal brand and your professional brand, and I think there’s a gray area. There’s certain things that I keep off-limits; I have a private Instagram, my private Facebook. I try not to mix the two. For me, as someone who understands business, it’s about attention, it’s about eyeballs, and it’s about exposure.
For me, the goal of the Pos-Cast, as I call it, and it’s kind of a play on my nickname; my name is Adam Posner. Back a while when I was growing up, some people mispronounced it as “Pause-ner,” and it kind of was a play on words where some people would call me “The Pos,” and that was kind of the impetus for calling it the Pos-Cast, so a little bit of background there. The goal of the Pos-Cast is really, I want to give back, and I want to give back all of my experience to different audiences, one, to those in the job search. I had a ton of jobs, I’ve been through a ton of interview processes, and now on the other side, I see how it works and I can really give that full 360 approach.
On the flip side, I want to speak to potential clients. I want to showcase my expertise, my breadth, my network as well, who I’m reaching out to. I think that’s critical as well, but the ultimate goal of the Pos-Cast is really to tap into one of my core strengths, which is my tenacity. My tenacity has driven me through my career, my tenacity is what drives me in business, and that’s something that I want to help other people harness. The goal of the Pos-Cast is to really help people harness their inner tenacity to drive their career forward.
Blake Emal: At what point does tenacity become kind of detrimental, though? Like there are two sides of one coin, right-
Adam Posner: Oh, 100 percent.
Blake Emal: Tenacity where it’s like “the drive to do whatever you need to do to get to where you want to be,” but then there can also be that negative side of it. Could you speak to that a little bit?
Adam Posner: Yeah, absolutely, and I think it comes down to putting the self-awareness governor in place, Blake. I think it’s about understanding who you are, what your limits are, and more importantly, knowing your audience. Understanding who you’re talking to and being able to temper that tenacity to a certain point where you’re being, I call it my Three P’s: polite, patient, persistence. Those are the three keys of my tenacity, and all those lever up and down depending on my goal and my audience.
Blake Emal: Let’s go back to the podcast a little bit. How do you host your podcast? How did you start it? If somebody was listening to this right now and was like, “Wow, I’m thinking of starting a podcast. I’ve been thinking about it for a while,” how would you recommend going about hosting it and starting it up?
Adam Posner: I’ll kind of throw it all in there. So it really started with listening to a lot of podcasts. There’s a few that I like, and there’s a few where I listen to them and I’m like, they’re either super entertaining; you take like a Joe Rogan or something or you take like a-
Blake Emal: Sure.
Adam Posner: Tim Ferriss or something, where there’s a balance between entertaining and adding value. That was ultimately my goal. As a born and raised New Yorker, I grew up listening to Howard Stern, and for me, there’s two amazing things about Howard Stern, whether you love him or hate him, right? Number one: he is probably the best interviewer in the history of the world. There is no one better at interviewing people than Howard Stern, in my opinion. Second piece is that he’s entertaining. He keeps your attention and he engages the guest, and I think that’s what critical. That’s really kind of how I tried to model my approach to interviewing where it’s a conversation but I’m also hitting on the questions, I want to hit my agenda. I also want to make sure that I’m hitting on the guest points as well that are coming on the show, on my show or your show, because we want to promote something: we want to promote ourselves, we want to promote our product.
The way the podcast, the Pos-Cast started, was a beta test where I recorded a networking call. I was using Zoom, and I recorded a networking call with a real awesome up-and-coming influencer named Que based out of Milwaukee. He’s doing some great stuff with a company called-
Blake Emal: Quentin Allums, by the way.
Adam Posner: Yes, yes. Thank you. We’ve connected a couple times and I’m like, “Dude, let’s just freaking do it.” We talked on the computer a bunch, but I’m like, “Let’s just record it and let’s see what happens,” and it was awesome. I recorded it, and it kind of turned into an origin story back and forth, but then it started to evolve into talking shop, talking business. I recorded it and I played it back, and I’m like, “You know what? That’s not bad. You know what? Screw it. Let’s just do it. Let’s just do the podcast. Let’s just put this together.”
I made that into episode one and it’s pretty raw dog. The first episode is just us having a chat, and then I started to do some outreach and some networking and saying, “Who do I want to have on my podcast, and what’s the story I want to tell?” The idea is to bring in experts at that 30,000 level to talk about cultural transformation, diversity, inclusion, the nuts and bolts of recruiting, all the way into bringing in recruiters, career coaches to give that actionable, tangible advice. I’m giving a 360.
Now as the Pos-Cast evolved, it went from me doing a little bit of prep, and I didn’t love the way the first few episodes were going. I knew I could do better, so I engaged with a media coach, someone who’s a good friend of mine, and I worked with her for a couple of sessions to really work on my format, my approach, my questioning, and then from episode five on to where we are now, completely game-changer. The cadence, the speed, the preparation that I go into it. I put together a well-produced beginning and end, I experimented with some video, and now it’s at a point where I’m booked until episode 25. Episode eight dropped today, and I love it, but it’s a lot of work, Blake.
Blake Emal: Yeah, definitely. I can attest to that.
Adam Posner: It’s a lot of work: it’s legwork, it’s preparation, it’s scheduling. Sometimes for efficiency, I book three in a row, and all of a sudden I look at my calendar, I’m like, “Damn, I just blocked out my entire morning and I can’t get other work down,” so I have to shift my priorities in my scheduling.
Blake Emal: Yeah, that could be tough.
Now in terms of actual, like when you’re getting on, asking questions, interviewing people, what’s a unique question you like to ask your guests?
Two Important Questions for Adam’s Guests
Adam Posner: Yeah, and I’ll ask you, man. Blake, I have two questions I ask. One I’ll ask you: Blake, what is your superpower? I’m not asking if you had a superpower. I’m sure you’d want to be invisible or fly, but Blake, what is your superpower?
Blake Emal: Yeah. For me, I think it’s the ability to be positive even when everything else is crumbling down around me.
Adam Posner: So supreme optimism.
Blake Emal: Yeah.
Adam Posner: So your superpower is supreme optimism, man. I love it.
Blake Emal: I would say so. What about you? Hold on, you’re not getting off the hook here.
Adam Posner: No.
Blake Emal: What’s your superpower?
Adam Posner: My superpower is I am a power connector. I see opportunities that other people do not or may not, and I connect the dots. It could be two completely different things that you would never think or two people you would never suspect that could have synergy, but for some reason I have the optics and the foresight to say, “You know what? These two people should connect,” or, “This person should connect with that opportunity,” or, “This business opportunity, even though it’s not for me,” and I don’t care sometimes if I make a single penny on something because I really truly believe in karma and doing the right thing all the time because it’ll come back to you in spades.
Blake Emal: You mentioned you had another question, so …
Adam Posner: Yeah, and this one really hits home for me: when you’re at your highest, when you’re at your lowest, what do you look towards for gratitude? What do you look towards to pull you up? What is your North Star?
Blake Emal: It’s really easy when you’re at your highest to find gratitude, right?
Adam Posner: Right.
Blake Emal: I mean, that’s not when it’s as valuable.
Adam Posner: No, that’s the easy one. Like when you’re having a real awful day or just things in business aren’t going well, or maybe in something in your personal life or relationships isn’t going right, what do you look at to say, “You know what? That North Star is always there. It’s always in the same spot. It’s always inspiring me and pulling me up and getting me to the right place, getting me even-keeled,” and getting Blake back up to that super optimistic superpower? What is that?
Blake Emal: I have a 14-month old daughter, so that’s an easy one. I can always think at the very worst, I’ll go home and be able to put out some toys and play with her for a while.
Adam Posner: Yeah, man.
Blake Emal: But then, that’s obviously a huge one, and I think a lot of people relate to that that have families. Family’s the number one, but then in terms of if I’m looking for a North Star in my career, it’s all about, I just love the process of it all and the fact that I get to do something that I believe provides value and that I like doing, even when it sucks sometimes, just because you’re doing something that you’re passionate about doesn’t necessarily mean it’s not going to suck sometimes, or even every day at some point, but the fact that I get to do it where so many people don’t, even though I’m not a billionaire, even though it’s not all figured out, the fact that I get to be in that process, to me, is a blessing and I can always count on that. It’ll have its highs and it’ll have its lows, but ultimately it’ll even out.
Adam Posner: Yeah, absolutely. Mine mirrors yours as well; again, for me it’s my family. I have a seven-year-old daughter, I have a nine-month-old son, and for me, it’s always about them being that shining light. It’s the reason I do everything; it’s the impetus, it’s the drive, and the professional side, for me, it’s really about seeing how far I could go, what I could create. I love creating. Sometimes it’s great, sometimes it’s awesome, like certain episodes of my podcast. Sometimes it’s terrible. Sometimes it’s putting out a piece of content that I think will resonate. This is the worst: when I have this idea in my head for a LinkedIn post or some other Instagram thing, I’m like, “Oh, this is awesome. It’s so creative,” and then I put it out there and it gets no love at all. I’m not just being a like hound-
Blake Emal: Right.
Adam Posner: But I can see there’s no love coming from it. I’m like, “How come no one else finds this funny?”, right? And I think that’s really what it’s about. It’s just the process for me. I completely agree with you, man.
Blake Emal: Yeah. Ultimately, you just have to know where you’re going, and sometimes things are going to hit, sometimes things are going to miss, but if you keep going in the same direction, it’ll all even out in the end.
Adam Posner: Just keep testing. Just keep testing.
Blake Emal: Absolutely.
How has podcasting contributed to your own career and your own bottom line?
Appealing to the Right Audience
Adam Posner: Oh man. I mean, I think it’s about generating awareness. I forgot what the stat is; I think it’s like 7,000 new podcasts a day. There’s almost a million out there right now, so it’s tough because you need to generate the eyeballs. For me, it’s a balancing act because I want my podcast to appeal to a large audience but I also want it to be the right audience, and that’s why I feel focusing on the career journey applies to everybody. I think that everybody can relate to it.
There’s times when I have certain guests on that it may get a little technical; we may get a little narrow, we may talk shop a little bit, but that’s going to appeal to some of the recruiters and talent pros that are in my audience. Sometimes I’m going to talk a little broader, I’m going to talk about the mental health while you’re in your job search, things that could apply to everybody, or giving people best practices on networking and best practices, really tactical, on LinkedIn. How to connect, how to engage with recruiters the right way, but the podcast brings awareness. The podcast brings eyeballs, it brings attention, and it brings a feedback loop that’s really important as well.
Blake Emal: I think we’re at a point now, it was like this with video a while back. It’s still like this with video, but we’re kind of at a point now where business owners especially, they’re all saying, “Well, everybody else has a podcast. I better begin starting a podcast,” “Better start doing it.” Who should not have a podcast?
Who Should and Shouldn’t Start a Podcast?
Adam Posner: If you do not have any value to add, do not start a podcast. If you want to talk just to hear the sound of your own voice and vanity, do not start a podcast, but if you have value to bring, if you have a message to share, if you have good to bring to the world to help people, and you have the time and the resources, start a podcast.
Blake Emal: So for the person that wants to try starting a podcast, though, you host your podcast on Anchor? Is that right?
Adam Posner: Right.
Blake Emal: Do you feel like that’s a viable platform going forward for business owners that want to try starting a podcast, or would you have done things differently?
Adam Posner: I don’t know; I’m experimenting. I’m only live a little under 10 episodes right now, so I’m experimenting with it. I have no problem with Anchor. I think the analytics are good. I am always open to testing, and for me, it’s one of those things where if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, right?
Blake Emal: Yeah.
Adam Posner: And there’s nothing wrong with it. It works well for me. I’m able to distribute my podcasts. It’s been a clean platform. I am playing with some other ones with different quality of sounds; we’re talking about SquadCast here now. I don’t think it’s hard to transition platforms, but I think if something’s rolling for you and you have a good thing going, I mean listen, I experimented with video. I record the videos so I have it, and it turned out that from a view standpoint or a download standpoint, less than 5percent of total engagement on my podcast was coming from video.
So I decided a few episodes back to say, “You know what? I’m going to record the video, but I’m not going to put in the time or money to produce it,” and that’s enabled me to scale where I could record more episodes in a day, so I’m putting less time towards the production and focusing on the sound.
Blake Emal: That’s something that has been huge for me. I’ve done podcasting even before this podcast where I’ve tried to do video and add other things and be on every single social media platform, and the one thing that I noticed is that you can technically do all that, but in order to actually commit to doing a podcast long-term, you have to make sure that it is pretty low barrier, low friction for yourself from the get-go. If I just decide, “I’m going to go all in. I’m going to do a 99 percent invisible type podcast where every single week it’s this massive story that takes so much research and it’s got all these different elements,” if I’m going to do that, it better be my full-time job-
Adam Posner: And be getting paid for it.
Blake Emal: And get paid for it, and I also need to make sure that it’s pretty low friction for me to do it, because if not, I know that I might be able to get through five episodes but I’m definitely not going to get to six. I’m not going to 10. It’s gonna stop.
Adam Posner: You know, Mark Metry is somebody, I don’t know if you’re familiar with Mark-
Blake Emal: Yeah.
Adam Posner: Humans 2.0 podcast. I connected with him way back, and by “way back,” I mean January. We had a fantastic conversation which has now turned into a friendship; I mean literally text each other with good stuff, bad stuff, nonsense, BS, prophetical stuff. It’s so funny because he’s half my age and he’s been mentoring me in podcasting and giving me tips and techniques and all.
He said something really important to me. He said two things: he goes, “One, try to make it to 50. Push yourself, but if at any moment you’re not having fun with it or it feels like work, stop doing it.” There’s a balance there because there is work that goes into it, but for me, that work has turned into kind of a fun piece of self-expression. I do a decent amount of prep for each episode; I want to make sure that I do my research on my guests, that I know their background, that I’m hitting on their passion points, but then I’m also scripting it a little bit where I have a nice intro and I have nice close thoughts as well.
I’m finding a lot of joy in writing my scripts, because I like to write. I used to write a lot when I was younger, and I kind of moved away from it, but I like writing and it’s turned into something we talked about earlier; it’s a passion, and the podcast is a canvas of my professional/personal expression.
Blake Emal: Definitely.
Let’s talk a little bit about what you’re doing now because the podcast, I mean you’re doing the podcast now, so it’s all connected, but now you’ve moved on from a bunch of different roles and you’re less on the marketing side now, which you were in the past, and now more on the recruiting side. You said you were a “power connector,” and now you’re the founder of NHP Talent Group. You’re the Managing Director. I’m sure that you have a lot on your plate [crosstalk 00:21:46]. Let’s talk about it a little bit. How did you find out that connecting people was your passion?
Adam Posner: Yeah, absolutely, and I knew that before I pivoted into recruiting. It’s funny; when Gary said to me, “Double down on your strengths” and I looked down inside, and I’ve always been a connector. Before I pivoted into recruiting, it was about even doing biz dev on the professional side. Finding those opportunities, utilizing my network. That’s why recruiting was a logical progression for me.
Now the thing was, Blake, when I pivoted into recruiting, at 35 years old, I was starting a new career from day one like a rookie. I had to learn a brand new piece of business. I mean, I knew the basics and I knew the gist of it because I’ve worked with recruiters my whole career, but I had to learn the art and science. I picked it up real quick, and I think I picked it up real quick and excelled because I started this career having 15 years of professional experience behind me.
Blake Emal: Well let’s stop there for just a sec because I’m sure that there are other people that either have done a similar thing or they have not been brave enough to take that leap. So for the person out there that is 30, 35 years old that feels like they’re in the wrong spot, what advice would you give to them?
Adam Posner: You only live one life, and you shouldn’t be stuck doing something that you don’t feel is right in your gut. Now, there are times when we, depending on our socioeconomic status or where we are in life, that there’s certain times when we have to do jobs that we don’t want to do because we have to put food on the table, but when you have a choice, and even then, if you’re not happy with what you’re doing, you live once. Screw that, right? Try to find something that you’re passionate about, but something that you could deliver on. Now I’m not saying like, “Oh my God, I’ve been driving this bus for 20 years and now I want to be an astronaut.” We’re not talking about extreme career pivots; we’re talking about logical pivots where you could parlay your skills and experience into that next move. I think that’s really the critical part because if you’re not, then you’re not setting yourself up for success.
Now you hear those one-off fantasy stories about somebody who was doing X, Y, and Z for a number of years and all of a sudden at age 40, they want to become a doctor and they went to medical school. I’m not talking about that. It has to be realistic and it has to be actionable, but you also have to be prepared to take a hit for the short-term. I went from making a very decent six-figure salary working in advertising and marketing to going into recruiting where the first couple years, I was making a third of what I was making.
I live in Long Island; it’s expensive. Highest taxes in the country. Two kids, house, mortgage, all that kind of stuff, and I dipped hard into my savings. I basically depleted it, but I took a gamble on myself knowing that this is what I was going to be good at. Now fast-forward four years, I’ve never been in a better financial place. I’ve never made more money. I have a successful business, I have a couple of employees working for me. It’s just about betting on yourself, man. Betting on your strengths. Bet on you.
Blake Emal: There are kind of two ways of doing this: you can do a side hustle while you’re still fully employed or you could just drop it all and take the gamble. Which camp do you fall in more?
Adam Posner: Oh, yeah. I mean I went all in. I put my chips all in. For me, it wasn’t a side hustle. Now the thing about recruiting is, without getting too technical into it, there are side hustle pieces in recruiting if you know what you’re doing and you associate yourself with the right people. I mean, I do split deals all the time; I work with people who have other jobs in recruiting that are able to capitalize on their own network. They do it after-hours, they do it on the weekends, and they’ve turned their professional into a side hustle as well. A side hustle also gives you the opportunity to test into something where you’re not quitting your day job and you can try something. Side hustles are huge; I fully recommend them. For me, that just wasn’t an option. It was an all-in for me; I’m either all in or nothing.
Blake Emal: Let’s also talk about this: you mentioned your passion really is connecting people. You talked a little bit about how you found that out, that you’ve kind of always known it was there, and at a certain point you just kind of knew, “Oh, now is the time that I can actually act upon it and do something with it,” but for the person that may say, “I know that I like a lot of different things but I don’t know if any of it pertains to what I actually do for a job,” because we mentioned being realistic as well. For example, if you want to be a professional snowboarder but you’re 30 years old, maybe don’t be a professional snowboarder; maybe have a snowboard shop.
Adam Posner: Right.
Blake Emal: It’s connected, but it’s feasible.
Adam Posner: Maybe sell snowboard apparel online. Open up an E-retail store.
Blake Emal: Yeah. For the person that doesn’t even have a clue how they could actually parlay that into a business, what advice would you have for that person?
Adam Posner: Yeah, it’s all about gauging the feasibility of it and it’s about beta testing into it. You really need to think about, to your point, the snowboarding’s a great analogy. If you’re passionate about something, try to do some research and find out where those white spaces are. Is there a need for customized snowboards in your area? Maybe if you’re into snowboarding, maybe it’s like a local snowboard tuning where you drive to people’s houses or at the mountain and you have a van. Think about where those opportunities are. Try not to do the same thing that everyone else is; otherwise, you’re swimming in the same pond with the same fishes.
Blake Emal: Now let’s talk a little bit about NHP because that’s your baby. That’s what you’re doing right now.
Adam Posner: It literally is my baby. So real quick story on that: NHP, when I was naming my company, I was thinking about all these “Extreme Recruiting,” all these names that could come into a recruiting practice, and I was struggling with it. I really was, and it was hard for me for someone that came from branding and marketing that I couldn’t think of a name. My wife goes to me, “What is your North Star?”, and this is before my son was born. I said, “Well my daughter Nina.” Nina’s initials are “NHP”: Nina Harrison Posner. That was it. So that way, every time I look to my company, every time I tell my story, I know what I’m doing it for. I’m doing it for her, and that was a no brainer. It was magic, man.
Blake Emal: That’s fantastic. Well, let’s talk about the actual technical part of this, because obviously it’s not what I do, so I’m a total noob.
Adam Posner: Yeah.
Blake Emal: I could use a lot of help, and there are a lot of people here that have businesses that are trying to hire people, trying to get connected with the right people. If I’m a business leader, if I’m a CEO and I’m thinking, “I got to hire the right people”-
Adam Posner: Right.
Blake Emal: Why should I go with an NHP, somebody third-party to help me with recruiting instead of trying to handle it in-house? Because ultimately, I know my business better than anybody else does. So in terms of recruiting, why is that beneficial, to outsource that?
Why Use a Third-Party Recruiter?
Adam Posner: So clients are paying us a premium for multiple reasons: one, we are an expert in the process. Number one. We understand how to engage candidates, we know how to gain their attention, and we also know how to really, truly understand your business so we’re finding you the right candidates for the skills and experience necessary for that role. It also frees up resources on your end. We know how to understand the hiring process, the interview process, and we can manage that for you. The second piece that you’re compensating us on is our network.
We have a vast network. We have the time to develop that network and nurture it. A good recruiter who specializes in your field, for example, my specialty is digital marketing and media, specifically in New York. Yes, I recruit nationwide, but my New York network is strong; I know who the players are, I know who the agencies are. I’m following the trends, the news, which agencies are winning business, which agencies are losing business and might be letting people go. There might be an opportunity where good people are getting let go and I’ll know that beforehand, and I’m like, “Oh, I connected with Mike before,” “I know Sue,” “I know Jane over there.” I know them. I’m going to get on top of that and reach out to them before someone else does.
That’s what you’re paying a third-party recruiter for, to really manage that relationship, but the other real key piece too is we’re ambassadors for your brand. You have to make sure when you’re hiring a recruiter that they’re professional, that they’re buttoned up, because they are representing blake.com and you want us to really represent it the best way and tell your story.
Blake Emal: You mentioned that right now, you’re doing better than you’ve ever done, right? So I think it’s interesting that you say you have a narrow focus here. You’re like, digital marketing is your forte, so if you can focus in on that a little bit more in terms of the recruiting, then that’s where you’re going to have the most success. That’s really poignant because I’ve had this thought for sure, I know other people have had this thought: they think, “I want to start my own business someday. I need to try to reach this broad audience or I’m not going to make any money,” but ultimately you’re saying here you’ve got your niche. You’ve got your little corner carved out, and you’ve never done better.
Adam Posner: Correct.
Blake Emal: So, I would love to hear your thoughts a little bit more on that and actually accepting the fact that having a small business or a medium-sized business is perfectly, like you don’t have to build Facebook.
An Inch Wide and a Mile Deep
Adam Posner: Right, and that’s exactly the point. I prefer to be an inch wide and a mile deep focusing. Listen, even within the digital marketing world an inch wide and a mile deep, there are subsets within digital marketing; there’s people who are just focused on creative. There are people who are just focused on the more tech side, whether it be UI UX programming within digital marketing. For me, I do cover that entire gamut, that entire range of digital marketing, but my specialty is really around account management and strategy and performance marketing because that’s what I did for 15 years, so I’m an expert in that field myself. I could speak to it.
I could ask candidates the right questions to really understand if they know what the heck they’re talking about and if they would be a good fit for it, and that’s why I chose to really focus on that. I’m not going to go into recruiting and start doing legal or medical recruiting; I don’t know anything about it. I have to learn in a whole new industry, and that was going back to Gary’s point about doubling down on your strengths, and I took that to heart.
Blake Emal: There are going to be thousands of people out there that have recruiting agencies that are doing exactly that. They’re going to take the approach of “a mile wide, an inch deep,” and they’re going to go after medical and legal and they’re not going to know what they’re talking about very well on every single one of those points. That applies to basically any business. If you’re trying to create something that is actually impactful, I think this methodology of “an inch wide, a mile deep” is so much more effective because it doesn’t have to scare to be this humongous thing in order for it to be really impactful for a lot of people.
Adam Posner: Of course, and I think about my business as well. I’ll be hitting my two-year point in August and right now I have three employees at a two-year mark, which is incredible for me; it’s far above my curve. I’m looking to expand and take on more clients. I’m looking to scale myself. I am very, very, very hands-on right now, and that’s cool because I really do love recruiting. I love being in the trenches, but now I’m really loving being a business owner and I see this being a real profitable and scalable business, so now I’m looking to take the next step and I’m looking to focus on biz dev and growth, still work in the trenches with certain roles and certain clients, but start to move up a little bit.
Blake Emal: But what you’re offering is a service, not a product necessarily, so …
Adam Posner: My “product” is me. I deliver white-glove treatment, and I think that it really comes down to customer service, and I think that comes down to client management, which again, I did that for 15 years. That was one of my strong suits, was managing client relationships. That’s really what parlayed the success of where I am right now.
Blake Emal: In terms of scaling a services company or a product in which it’s based on the value that people bring as opposed to an E-commerce site, how do you go about doing that the right way? Because it’s tough to scale services.
Adam Posner: 100 percent, and it comes down to reputation. I’ve found an interesting challenge where I’m putting into place at companies and they represent me, they represent my business. I’ve never had that before. I’ve always been personally responsible for my success, and now I’m putting other people out there and it’s the first time as business owner where I’m like, “Damn it. That person doesn’t perform well. That’s a direct reflection on me and my company,” and I’ve had to learn that early on.
I’ve had to bounce back and do damage control, and I’ve had to rebuild relationships. It’s so interesting, too, and I talk about this all the time, Blake; I play the long game. It’s really predicated all my success. I play the long game and I win daily office residuals, aka the short game, but it takes a long time to build these type of relationships that build success, but it takes seconds for that to fall apart.
Blake Emal: Mm-hmm (affirmative). That’s so true. Well that’s the same thing, this is an analogy that I’ve used: if you’re going to school, you’re at university and you get 10 straight semesters, you’re all A’s. Then you get one F in the eleventh semester, and all of a sudden, you’re at a 3.8. Then you get another F, and all of a sudden you’re at a 3.6, but if you got straight A’s the rest of the way, it’ll only go back up to like a 3.65. It’s like, all the positive things that you can do don’t add up to nearly as much-
Adam Posner: Right.
Blake Emal: As how hard the negative things can impact you, so you have to try to find ways to recoup those losses but prevent them as much as possible because it is so hard to make up against those negative consequences.
Adam Posner: Yeah. I mean, it’s crazy. You see it out there all the time with the celebrities, the famous people out there that have great careers, they’re philanthropists, they do everything. Then they get accused of one scandal. It doesn’t even matter if they were convicted or not, but it’s like, that’s what you remember them by. It’s hard to not be remembered by one thing that’s happened to you but that’s our society right now and that’s business.
Blake Emal: Yeah, it’s tough.
Well let’s flip to a candidate perspective. What advice could you give to somebody that’s unemployed right now looking for a new job to really stand out?
Adam Posner: Yeah, absolutely, and I think it comes down to visibility and doing things the right way. I always say this: the hardest job that you’ll ever have is being in the job search, whether you have a job or you’re out of work, especially if you’re out of work. It’s extremely hard. You have to be disciplined, you have to be focused, and you have to be strategic. You have to think about doing things differently than what everyone else does. Everyone else is blindly applying to jobs.
What you need to do is, first and foremost, make sure that you’re applying to relevant jobs. Make sure that you’re, at least, qualified for 50 percent of what you see in the job description. If it’s less than that, it’s probably not the right role and the Hiring Manager’s going to overlook you. Let’s just say that you are qualified for more than 50 percent of the qualifications. What you want to do is find who the decision-makers are in that company. I’m not talking about the CEO and I’m not always necessarily talking about the Hiring Manager or the HR people. You want to look for people in similar roles to your job.
Say you’re a Product Manager. Find another Product Manager in that company and say, “Oh hey, Blake. My name’s Adam. I’m a Product Manager and I’m looking for similar roles. I see you’re at Blake Enterprises. If you have a few minutes, I’d love to connect and just talk shop for a little bit, learn a little bit more about what you do.” What that’s going to do is you’re going to establish a relationship with somebody already in that company. That person, if you impress them, it’d be a referral for you for that job that you’re looking for, because what’ll happen is one of two things: one, that company may have a referral bonus program where Blake sees it like, “Oh Blake. Would you like to get five grand for giving me a placement.” Second of all, if Adam comes in to interview and the Hiring Manager goes, “Does anybody know Adam?”, Blake could be like, “Yeah, I spoke to Adam. He’s a good dude. I’d like to work with him.” That is a different approach.
Blake Emal: Yeah. Oh I love that.
It could be brutal out there when you’re trying to find a job and you don’t know how to do it the right way because you think about now, everybody has easy access online-
Adam Posner: Yep.
Blake Emal: If you look on Glass Door, Indeed, anywhere you can apply to these jobs, it’ll show you how many people have applied and it’s like-
Adam Posner: Oh yeah.
Blake Emal: “168 people with similar experience have applied.” It’s like, how do you stand out?
Adam Posner: That’s why you have to separate yourself. Exactly.
Blake Emal: For sure, and I think that pre-connecting, I guess is what you’re talking about, is super valuable. I’ve done that through, LinkedIn has been very effective. I mean obviously that’s the go-to place for that, but just beyond sending a message even, like-
Adam Posner: It takes work.
Blake Emal: Yeah, for sure, and if you can stand out by maybe making videos if you can or having a podcast or something where you provide value, that can also be a great thing to differentiate because most people aren’t willing to put in the work to do that.
Adam Posner: 100 percent, and that’s a really good point as well, is content creation. I have a lot of guests on my show who are career coaches and we talk a lot about thought leadership. I think thought leadership is key at any stage in your career. You could be a thought leader in an entry-level position. You could be a thought leader at any stage in your career, and I think that it’s pretty cool to put out videos on LinkedIn and on other platforms, but make sure that you’re targeting and hash-tagging people who are in that so you’re getting that visibility and exposure.
Blake Emal: Definitely. I’ve been through this myself, like I obviously started out as an entry-level guy and worked my way up to where I am now and still growing a ton, and I’ve got places to go beyond this, but it’s really important to find ways to provide value in whatever stage you’re at. If you’re entry-level, maybe you feel like you don’t have all the information in the world. You’re not going to be as capable of talking about marketing as the CEO of an ad agency or something like that, but you can always talk about where you’re at, what you’re learning, where you’re failing, where you’re succeeding, and being genuine. I wouldn’t recommend doing content creation if you’re going to try to self-aggrandize and-
Adam Posner: No.
Blake Emal: Make yourself seem so much better than you are because people will see right through that.
Adam Posner: That’s authenticity, and I think that’s a big thing now. I think with the access to video at people’s fingertips, I mean literally I could hit a button on my phone and broadcast to the world, I think you have to be doing it for the right reasons. I think some people do it for vanity, and listen, we see how that works out. Look at the Kardashians. The sheer amount of money they make for being completely talentless is incredible, versus people who are adding true value and want to help people.
Blake Emal: Yeah, definitely.
I’ve got this new segment that I want to try out on you.
Adam Posner: Yeah, man.
Blake Emal: It’s going to be hopefully a little uncomfortable. We’ll see.
Adam Posner: I urge people, be comfortable being uncomfortable. Get out of your comfort zone.
Blake Emal: Here’s how we’re going to do this. I’m going to ask you some slightly deeper questions. Some of them will be easier than others for you, but you only have one sentence to complete your thought. Feel free to take your time. I would love to get one sentence, only one.
First off, let’s start with this: what is one of your non-negotiable values?
Adam Posner: Sacrificing family.
Blake Emal: If you could back five years in time and give yourself a piece of advice, it would be what?
Adam Posner: Be more aware of my self-awareness.
Blake Emal: Can you elaborate on that? I’ll give you more than one sentence.
Adam Posner: Yeah. I think it’s about taking a moment to really recognize who you are and try not to be something else.
Blake Emal: What’s the worst advice you could give to an entrepreneur?
Adam Posner: Put all your eggs in one basket.
Blake Emal: All right, so you’re in the business of connecting talented companies with talented people. Let’s talk a little bit more about, what most separates a talented candidate from a mediocre candidate?
Adam Posner: I think there’s two things: I think it’s their commitment to the process, their tenacity and how they tell their own career story. You want to put the best marketable candidate out there, and if someone can’t tell their career story to you, they’re not going to be able to do it on a job interview.
Adam’s Favorite Failure
Blake Emal: What’s your, Tim Ferriss will call it “your favorite failure.” Let’s kind of use that. What’s your favorite time where something’s just really sucked in your life but it actually ended up becoming a good thing for you?
Adam Posner: Yeah, I mean it was my time at Vayner, and I think that was a pivotal point in my story, man. If I never aimed to get that job, I crushed my interviews, I got that job, and I just F-ing sucked and things didn’t go well when I got in there. If I didn’t fail in there, I wouldn’t have learned where my true talents were, where I would be today. That’s my favorite failure, 100 percent.
Blake Emal: As it stands right now, what’s the thing that you most need to work on?
Adam Posner: I think it’s a little bit of, at times when I get frustrated, to not take it out on the people closest to me. I think I’m guilty of that sometimes, and my friends, my family, I think that there’s times where I try to keep it so composed professionally, and listen, we have stresses, we have successes, we have failures, we have things that affect us in our day-to-day. I think I need to do a better job of, when I walk in the door at home, to leave that in the office. I think that’s hard for a lot of people, to shut off, to compartmentalize.
Blake Emal: I know that I absolutely struggle with that. I mean, I’m a side hustler. You’re the kind of guy that jumped all in. I’m more like, “I’m going to build something slowly on the side.”
Adam Posner: Love it.
Blake Emal: I think that both ways work.
Adam Posner: Yeah, 100 percent.
Blake Emal: It just, it takes different amounts of time. Yeah, I definitely can relate to that, going home and thinking, “I still got more to do,” but those are all those little tough questions I wanted to ask you.
Adam Posner: Love it, man.
Blake Emal: I appreciate that.
I want to give you a chance here to put out your own billboard. What are you working on? What do you want people to go check out?
Adam Posner: I would love for everybody to check out The Pos-Cast. I’m on Anchor, I’m on Spotify. Search for “The Pos-Cast.” You could also follow me on LinkedIn, “Adam J. Posner” on LinkedIn. I’m posting jobs, I’m posting thought leadership, I’m posting fun stuff that some people may like or may not like, but all the information is there. I would love and really appreciate follow, listen, comment, engage.
Blake Emal: I can attest to the fact that he’s a great follow; I personally follow him, we’re connected-
Adam Posner: Thanks, man.
Blake Emal: That’s actually how we got connected in the first place for the podcast. LinkedIn’s a huge tool.
Adam, I really appreciate you coming on. Do you mind if I ask you some less serious questions really quick?
Adam Posner: Yeah, of course.
Blake Emal: You good with that?
Adam Posner: Definitely.
Blake Emal: All right, let me pull up a couple crazy questions here. This is going to be our rapid-fire round.
Rapid-Fire Questions for Adam Posner
Adam Posner: I do Rapid Fire too. I love it. Yeah, put me in the hot seat.
Blake Emal: All right. There’s like seven questions, eight questions. Should be pretty easy. Let’s do hot potato as fast as you possibly can.
Do you prefer texting or phone call?
Adam Posner: Texting.
Blake Emal: Favorite day of the week?
Adam Posner: I like Thursday.
Blake Emal: Thursdays are great. I like Thursday too actually. Most people say Friday. I like Thursday-
Adam Posner: No, I like Thursdays.
Blake Emal: Yeah, I agree with that.
What’s your favorite city in the Unites States besides any that you’ve actually lived in?
Adam Posner: Austin, Texas.
Blake Emal: What what.
Adam Posner: I could live in Austin, 100 percent. I love Austin, Texas.
Blake Emal: Come on over. For those listening, I just moved to Austin, Texas two days ago.
All right, what was the last song you listened to?
Adam Posner: Pearl Jam, Rear View Mirror.
Blake Emal: Pearl Jam, nice.
Would you rather be able to speak every language in the world or be able to talk to animals?
Adam Posner: Talk to animals.
Blake Emal: Interesting. Cool, very cool. So what-
Adam Posner: Yeah, I-
Blake Emal: What animal would you pick if you could only pick one to talk to and understand? Which one would it be?
Adam Posner: I’d love to know the mentality of a snake, man.
Blake Emal: Yeah. Like, no legs. How do you function? Totally different.
Adam Posner: Yeah, and you’re a total badass too, right?
Blake Emal: Yeah.
Fill in the bank: “Gary Vaynerchuk is …”
Adam Posner: “The real deal.”
Blake Emal: Finally, invisibility or super strength?
Adam Posner: I would take invisibility.
Blake Emal: Invisibility or power of connecting?
Adam Posner: Oh, power of connecting. I would never trade my superpower for anything in the world.
Blake Emal: Good answer.
All right, Adam Posner, thank you so much. It’s called The Pos-Cast. His name is Adam Posner. Don’t get it mixed up. Follow him on LinkedIn, and thank you so much for listening in. Have a great day.
Adam Posner: Blake, that was awesome. Great podcast. Thanks for having me, man.
P2P Interview with Max Serrato
Blake Emal: Now it’s time to switch from a B2B mindset to P2P, that is peer-to-peer. I’m going to be interviewing people here at Directive Consulting, my peers, my colleagues, to try to find out what makes them tick, to see where they come from, what their goals are professionally, and give you an idea of what the culture is like here at Directive. It’s going to be a really interesting opportunity, and maybe you’ll even find people that have your exact same job title, your same position, or your same goals, or maybe they just like the same music as you.
Okay, we’re live with Max. Max is a PPC Specialist here at Directive. How are you doing?
Max Serrato: I’m doing well, man. Just had some lunch, so feeling good.
Blake Emal: Where’d you go?
Max Serrato: Chick-Fil-A.
Blake Emal: Chick-Fil-A.
Max Serrato: Yeah.
Blake Emal: Okay, let’s guess your meal. You got a 12-count nugget meal.
Max Serrato: I did not.
Blake Emal: Spicy chicken?
Max Serrato: Deluxe.
Blake Emal: Yeah, okay.
Max Serrato: Extra Chick-Fil-A sauce.
Blake Emal: Nice. It’s like those were the two options. Nobody just gets the plain Chick-Fil-A sandwich anymore.
Max Serrato: No, there’s no point really.
Blake Emal: Did you go with anybody else?
Max Serrato: Yeah, I actually went with Brady and Drew-
Blake Emal: Nice.
Max Serrato: Also work here.
Blake Emal: Yep, very cool.
So, let’s start out with your origin story, not starting at your birth but just your work origin story. How’d you get started on this career path, and then how did you end up at Directive?
Max Serrato: Okay. In college, I took a marketing class at community college and it was one of the few classes I actually enjoyed. Then when I transferred to Cal State Fullerton, I decided that’s what I was going to major in. While I was in college, I was also working at a retail store and I kind of started up their online business. I got to a point where we were doing really well online to the point where we just closed down the actual in-store retail and just went completely online, so I was able to get some digital experience there. Then-
Blake Emal: That’s like the complete opposite of the way it usually goes.
Max Serrato: Yeah, right?
Blake Emal: You usually start, like on Shark Tank, all the companies start E-commerce-
Max Serrato: Yeah.
Blake Emal: And then they get retail after that. So just shutting down the retail altogether is crazy.
Max Serrato: Yeah, yeah. That was pretty cool. So it was just me, the owner, and like one other dude who were pretty much handling everything. That was a pretty fun experience. Then, I also did an internship at an advertising agency in the foodservice industry, and I kind of just felt like I was doing busy work there. Like one of the things I was doing was helping their web designer, and he was like, “Oh, I need you to update all these H1’s and meta tiles and all this,” and I thought it was just busywork. Then when I actually started reading into it and figuring out the importance of that stuff, I was like, “Oh, this digital stuff is kind of cool.” So, I did my own research, decided that Ad Words was something that I was pretty, or Google Ads now, formally known as Ad Words, I thought that was a pretty cool thing and I saw that there was probably going to continue to be a strong demand for it, so I went ahead and got certified.
Then I started looking for jobs who were looking for paid specialists, and ended up here-
Blake Emal: And that was how long ago?
Max Serrato: That was back in, that was last February. Yeah.
Blake Emal: So yeah, you’ve been with Directive a little bit over a year.
Max Serrato: Yes sir.
Blake Emal: Very nice.
Max Serrato: Yeah.
Blake Emal: Cool. Are you more the type of person, like one day you want to own your own thing, or do you like having the structure of a bigger company to fall under and then get creative within that structure?
Max Serrato: Yeah, I kind of like the structure here. I don’t know if I’d like to own and do my own thing. I think there’s stresses and pressures there that I’m just okay with not having.
Blake Emal: Yeah.
Max Serrato: But yeah, I like being part of the team here, for sure.
Blake Emal: What’s your favorite part about Directive?
Max Serrato: I would say, and you’ll probably get this every answer, but the people.
Blake Emal: Yeah.
Max Serrato: Does that sound about right?
Blake Emal: Yeah.
Max Serrato: Yeah. I was super nervous when I first started here because everyone just seemed incredibly smart and busy all the time, and once you get to know them, it’s like everyone is super smart and busy, but they’re super helpful and I’ve made a lot of really good friends working here, a lot of driven people, and those are the kind of people I like surrounding myself with, so …
Blake Emal: Well let’s fast-forward a little bit and talk about, so right now you’re at Directive. You’re in this PPC stuff right now, you’re liking it-
Max Serrato: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Blake Emal: But at the end of your career, what’s the perfect scenario for you? Where do you want to be? What is your dream job? What do you want your retirement to look like?
Max Serrato: So I’m super into music. I like playing guitar a lot, so I guess my dream job would be like Head of Marketing at Fender. I think that would be pretty cool. That’s something that I’m really passionate about, so I feel like I’d be pretty good at it as well. I think that would be a fun space to work in.
Blake Emal: That’s awesome. Have you ever worked with music clients before-
Max Serrato: Never.
Blake Emal: In the B2B space?
Max Serrato: No. Not too many music clients in the B2B space.
Blake Emal: Yeah, sure. That’s a tough one to find.
Max Serrato: Yeah.
Blake Emal: No, that’s awesome.
So, if I were to go around and take a poll of all of your coworkers, the people that know you the best here at Directive, and this is not your opinion; this is what they would say.
Max Serrato: Yeah.
Blake Emal: What do you think they would say is your spirit animal?
Max Serrato: I’m not gonna lie; I don’t even know what my own spirit animal is. I’m going to go with some sort of bird, and I’m only saying that because I’ve had some pretty intense arguments here with people about, I personally think birds are hilarious and funny, and I would like to possibly own a talking bird as a pet one day. They get a lot of flack around here; a lot of dislike towards the birds. So I feel like-
It’s a sarcastic choice for them to assign me the bird spirit animal, but I feel like that’s probably what-
Blake Emal: We’re talking a chicken? A turkey?
Max Serrato: No, no. Those are garbage birds. I’m talking like-
Blake Emal: Falcon?
Max Serrato: That’s what I would like, yes.
Blake Emal: Yeah, okay.
Max Serrato: Yeah.
Blake Emal: See, I would’ve pegged you for like an otter.
Max Serrato: I could go with otter.
Blake Emal: I feel like you’re funny and you’re crafty, so I could see otter.
Max Serrato: Okay. I appreciate that. It’s much cooler than a bird, I’m not going to lie.
Blake Emal: So you don’t have any opinion on what you think it would be?
Max Serrato: Is it okay if I just steal your otter answer?
Blake Emal: That’s fine. Go for it.
Max Serrato: Yeah. I like otter. I’m pretty loose around the office. There can be stressful days around here, people always grinding, so I try and keep it loose and make people laugh, but also yeah, do good at my job and be crafty.
Blake Emal: There are a lot of people that listen that are kind of in the same spots. What advice would you give them if, you’re going through something that’s really stressful but you’re the kind of person that tends to want to calm things down, keep it a little lighter.
Max Serrato: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Blake Emal: What’s your advice in those stressful moments to be productive but also just lighten the tone?
Max Serrato: Talk to someone. A lot of times, I’ll find myself kind of stressing and kind of hitting a wall, and then I’ll talk to either my lead, Josh, or I’ll talk to our director, or even whoever’s next to me at the time. Just get their feel on it and just a second set of eyes, and it could be pretty enlightening just to get someone else’s perspective. It can help you get out of a rut, and we’ve got some pretty insightful people in the department, so you’re usually going to get some pretty good information.
Blake Emal: Typically, not just here at Directive, but in general, what’s something that really is good at stressing you out? What hits you every time a certain thing happens, it’s like super stressful for you?
Max Serrato: Looking at the clock. I just feel like there’s so much to do and not enough hours in the day, and I’ll just be working on something and then I’ll look at the time and think just like, “Oh crap. I have all this other stuff.” I guess just thinking about all the things that I have to do and the limited amount of time I have, because I typically like to bite off a lot more than I can chew sometimes, and try to tackle more items than I need to, so I guess that can kind of be stressful.
Blake Emal: Yeah, I can relate to that.
Max Serrato: Yeah.
Blake Emal: I used to be more the kind of person that wanted just to do a hundred things all at the same time because I thought that that would mean that I’d be doing 100 percent-
Max Serrato: Yeah.
Blake Emal: And I ended up doing zero. I was like, “What if I focused on one thing and did that 100 percent” So ultimately, it would only make a 1 percent impact on my day, but 1 percent’s better than 0 percent.
Max Serrato: I’m no mathematician, but that-
Blake Emal: That makes sense?
Max Serrato: I feel like that checks out.
Blake Emal: That’s something that I’ve definitely learned so far, but here at Directive, it can be a little bit intimidating, a little difficult sometimes, and stressful because you’re around a lot of high performers.
Max Serrato: Yeah.
Blake Emal: The people that get hired here, like yourself, like all the people you’ve referenced here that help you out as well are high performers, and so that’s really cool that you get to work with smart people, but at the same time, it holds you to a new standard and it can be super stressful. Has that been your experience? Do you sometimes feel that pressure, being at a company that hires well, to live up to that standard?
Max Serrato: I kind of see it as a blessing to, like I guess just like, “Oh man, I’m included with these people. Must be doing something right.” Then, like I was talking about earlier, just knowing that those resources are there for you. Our table’s constantly bouncing ideas off of each other, talking to each other all the time, getting each other’s input. I think that’s more like a helpful factor, if anything.
Blake Emal: All right, how good are you at Hot Potato?
Max Serrato: Remind me what Hot Potato-
Blake Emal: Hot Potato is a game where you have to catch a ball as fast as you can and then throw it as fast as you can right back accurately.
Max Serrato: I could not tell you the last time I played Hot Potato.
Blake Emal: Okay, we’re going to play mental Hot Potato here.
Max Serrato: Okay.
Blake Emal: This is a segment called Rapid Fire Round. I’m going to ask you a bunch of really quick questions-
Max Serrato: Okay.
Blake Emal: As fast as you can spout them out, just go for it.
So let’s start with this one: texting or phone call?
Max Serrato: Phone call.
Blake Emal: Phone call or email?
Max Serrato: Phone call?
Blake Emal: Email or Zoom?
Max Serrato: Email.
Blake Emal: Favorite day of the week?
Max Serrato: Friday.
Blake Emal: Why’s that?
Max Serrato: Just because it’s like wrapping up the workweek. I like to sleep in on Saturday morning, which is great. I’m going to change that, I’m sorry. Sunday. I’m going with Sunday. I’m going Sunday, despite the Sunday Scaries. I feel like I look forward to Sunday all week because I usually have a good breakfast on Sunday mornings, and then typically, my HBO shows are on Sundays.
Blake Emal: Are you a Game of Thrones fan?
Max Serrato: Absolutely.
Blake Emal: I’ve never actually watched it.
Max Serrato: Oh man.
Blake Emal: So I’m in the minority there, but what are your thoughts on season eight?
Max Serrato: First episode, not too much happened, but it was a good setup episode. You can tell it’s going to start hitting the fan pretty soon.
Blake Emal: Who’s going to be left, or who’s going to die? I don’t know anything about this, so inform me here.
Max Serrato: So I can just give you fake names and you wouldn’t know the difference.
Blake Emal: You could, yeah. I would have no clue.
Max Serrato: Okay. I think Cersei is going to outlive most of the other main characters, which is not a popular opinion because everyone hates her, but the fact that she’s so evil and willing to do whatever she needs to do to survive makes me think that she’s going to do some pretty terrible stuff this season.
Blake Emal: That’s the only opinion I’ve ever heard on Game of Thrones, so I’ll just take that one.
Max Serrato: All right.
Blake Emal: I’ll adopt that.
What’s your favorite city in the United States besides any that you’ve lived in?
Max Serrato: San Francisco.
Blake Emal: Okay, cool.
What’s your favorite city in the world outside of the United States?
Max Serrato: Let’s go, France. Paris, sorry. I’m not good at rapid-fire if you can’t tell.
Blake Emal: It’s all good.
What was the last song you listened to? Or if you prefer, I can try to guess.
Max Serrato: Yeah, yeah.
Blake Emal: All right. I’m going to say …
Max Serrato: Should I give you clues first?
Blake Emal: Are you like indie music?
Max Serrato: I’m an indie/classic rock kind of guy.
Blake Emal: Okay.
Max Serrato: I’d say those are two big genres.
Blake Emal: I’ll just take a stab at it. Let’s say last thing, Vampire Weekend.
Max Serrato: No.
Blake Emal: Okay. What was it?
Max Serrato: It was Pride and Joy by Stevie Ray Vaughn.
Blake Emal: Oh okay. That’s a classic. That was like Guitar Hero.
Max Serrato: Oh yeah.
Blake Emal: That’s a good one.
Max Serrato: Oh yeah. Big fan of Guitar Hero.
Blake Emal: Would you rather be able to speak every language in the entire world or speak to animals?
Max Serrato: Animals.
Blake Emal: What animal would you be most interested to talk to?
Max Serrato: My dog, for sure. I feel like he knows me the best out of anyone; I’ve spent the most time with him. I’d like to get his thoughts.
Blake Emal: Aren’t you scared, though, that if he could really talk, he would actually tell you all the things he doesn’t like about you?
Max Serrato: Yeah, that would kind of be a buzzkill.
Blake Emal: I mean, that would stink, right?
Max Serrato: But, I mean he seems to enjoy my company, you know?
Blake Emal: Yeah.
Max Serrato: So he can’t-
Blake Emal: But you don’t know.
Max Serrato: Yeah, that’s true. He might think he’s a prisoner, so …
Blake Emal: Yeah.
Max Serrato: All the languages would be cool, but I honestly don’t travel that much, so I don’t know how much of that I would utilize.
Blake Emal: It’s more practical for you to speak to animals.
Max Serrato: Yeah, yeah. Definitely more practical.
Blake Emal: Would you rather have invisibility or super strength?
Max Serrato: Super strength.
Blake Emal: Do you have a favorite Avenger?
Max Serrato: I’ll go Spiderman.
Blake Emal: Mine too. Love Spiderman.
Max Serrato: Yeah, great guy.
Blake Emal: Cool.
All right, well that’s it for right now.
Max Serrato: Cool.
Blake Emal: It was a good interview. Thank you for coming in.
Max Serrato: Ah, thanks for having me man-
Blake Emal: And, making the two-second walk into the studio.
Max Serrato: It was tough, but glad I did it.
Blake Emal: All right. That was Max. Thanks for coming on, and we’ll talk to you later.
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