Alexandre Pachulski, Co-Founder @ Talentsoft. Recruiting and AI in the Pop Culture.A-Players - The top startups' recipes to build teams of top performers
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- 8 Dec 2020
Alexandre Pachulski is a very eclectic person. Founder in the leading HRIS Talentsoft ($100M ARR, 700 people in the team), he's also a movie freak and a big sports fan. When he set out to write a book, it wasn't yet another business book on hiring: it was a book on Artificial Intelligence in the history of cinema. In this episode, Alexandre shares his view on the future of recruiting (with the Beatles), on how to improve decision-making in recruiting (with Brad Pitt's Billy Beane in Moneyball), and on the Golden State Warriors. Buckle up!
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Hi, everyone. Today we're having Alex Shulsky from telling some stuff that's 700 people, 100 million in annual revenue. And Alex is also a very expert on the AA and AA plus recruiting. So you recently wrote a new book. The first one is a book called Unique about why everybody is unique in the organization. And the second one, which I have just close to me right now is a generation. And what I find very interesting on the book is it's not yet another business book is a book on a in movies.
And today we'll try to make three connections between a recruiting and movie. So very happy to have you today, Alex. Is there anything I missed in the introduction and Robin and everyone?
No, I guess it's quite complete, at least for a podcast of 20 minutes and not to also be fine.
OK, cool. And so when we decided on what we were going to be talking about today, we decided to make that mix between a pop culture movies and recruiting and building teams. And I like the thesis that you had when you mentioned the movie Moneyball. So can you tell us more about that?
Yes, actually, since I've been in charge of this with my crew for 13 years now, I know that there has been a bias in the industry that we have always followed to hire the top talent, hire and detect the stall, and then manage the talents and go through the talent review of the top talent and so on and so on. But there is an issue here that when you are looking at the pop culture society in general, but coming back to pop culture, you look at Justice League, you know, the DC Comics with Superman, Batman, the latest movie at this line, you won't save the world alone.
So if Superman and Batman consider that they cannot make it alone, it means that now to face the problems we are currently facing with the current situation and more globally as a very complex issues each of us is facing, it's not about hiring the top talent. It's not about managing the top talent. It's about designing great teams. And that's exactly what the Moneyball movie is all about. It's all about this baseball league where you've got five criteria that allows every recruiters to go and recruit for the same talents and the same criteria.
And so it's extremely difficult to be revealed in this baseball league if you do not match these five criteria. But at the end of the day. Who has decided what was supposed to be this criteria and you got a young guy, Jonah Hill, in the movie that is coming with a book called Moneyball, that claims that there is another way basically to create teams and that if you go after a very specific algorithm, you could combine people together, people that are totally ignored according to the five criteria.
But when you Gassner certain people together, then you got the magic that could happen and that the whole history of the movie, it's when you make a specific team with specific people that match one with another, you can create magic. And that's what donelli with Brad Pitt are going to experiment. And that's based on the true stories. So that's really interesting. And that's exactly what we are trying to do it down to. Needs to find the Moneyball algorithm a way to create great teams and not a way to discriminate according to the current criteria.
And if you're more into books, too, you can read the book and a big fan of Michael Lewis so you can read all the holy books. And the thesis, which I find very interesting in these books, again, is on the eight players. And how do you build a team of eight players so far? Most of the people I talked to try to find common traits among gay players. What I find very interesting here is that your thesis is there is no a player per say, but you can build a team of eight players.
You should rather aim for a teams than eight players, right? Absolutely.
I got so many illustrations about that. I could talk to you. I'm always talking about it and it doesn't know I do. But I'm always thinking very someone that he has been working at down South for maybe 10 years now. And honestly, as I always said, is not the greatest computer engineer for sure and is not probably the most motivated and engaged person of my company.
And so at the very beginning of my career, I tell myself sometimes, you know, I was fed up with his attitude. I was working so, so hard that I thought, it's not fair. Why is this guy is continuing working and telling stuff and not working that job? But with time, I discovered that he's someone at something special each time he was working in a team because as you know it, computer engineers, they SWAT teams from time to time.
Each time he was bringing something, that kind of atmosphere, a kind of mood. He was the kind Yazji talent to bind people together. And it's a talent. And I'm thinking at the same time about Ringo Starr, you know, one of the fall Beatles, the drummer of the Beatles. Everyone knows that Ringo Starr is the greatest drums player for sure. And I know he knows. But would the Beatles have been the Beatles without him? It's not that sure.
As the police band, you add the problem between Stuart Kirkland and Sting because Sting was really pulling the Stuart Copeland head. And there was this kind of tension, this very weird tension between the drums and the bass because there weren't totally aligned. But you add something and this tension was still to the part of the success of the police band, according to me. So once again, this is only my night view, my vision of these teams and upon my collegiate talents.
But the way I see it, it's like cooking. Sometimes you make a mistake and we all know that the great things that have been discovered in the world most of the times stem from the mistake. You just add something that comes in your recipe and you didn't plan that, but it becomes your secret sauce. And this is what creating teams is all about, finding the secret sauce, finding the very person that would have been ignored, none of the company, none of the team.
And suddenly and have an experience that so many times in my 20 years of career of entrepreneurship, people that were really stars in the team and they go from one team to another and suddenly so magic doesn't happen anymore in sports. You see that so many of you are thinking about Jeremy Lin, a Chinese player in the NBA, that suddenly during three weeks in the Knicks is doing something incredible and so is revealed and he's drafted by the Lakers and suddenly it becomes the new one.
The gain is what teams are all about, the kind of magic that managers are in charge anyway. So I believe that managers, they should think about their position in terms of alchemy. You know, they should become magicians, alchemist, not these people that go through reporting because this is not the name of the game now.
And so you shouldn't be only looking for the lead guitarists, but also for the John Bonham of the world and the Ringo Starr of the world and the Dennis Rodman out the word. Exactly. But the question is, there's always a risk when something comes and you risk, as you said, it becomes your secret sauce. But how do you allow new elements to come in your recipe without taking that risk or should you take that risk?
You said it without taking risk. Yes, I'm a poor cooker, actually. This metaphor is maybe not the most relevant coming back to me. But let's continue with this cooking thing. The risk is that you take is that you basically ruin your recipe and that the people you serve your plate, your dinner, say, wow, it's terrible and we order a pizza. This is a risk that you take. And the risk that you take coming back to companies is that at some point the magic doesn't happen and they miss that target.
And that's precisely the issue of recruiters, recruiters. The problem they have is that there will never be complimented, thanked for risk of attack. I mean, if you in you take the risk to hire me. And when I say no one, it means I have not been detected or revealed at some point. So you take the risk to hire me thinking, I believe that there is something potential talent that hasn't been revealed so far, and I will be the one revealing this talent.
And if I'm in a typical talent, I don't have thelo the great studies. I haven't possibly been in a position where you want me to be if I fail. Everyone starting by your manager will say, Robin, why did you do that? It was making no sense. If you hire someone with high diplomas, for instance, no one will argue. Everyone will say, Oh, that's weird. You had such great diplomas, it should have worked.
But we all know that it's not the matter of diploma. So coming back to this risk, as far as the risk you take on, that's recognized and that enhanced, honored and courageous in your company, you want to take these risks because you've got nothing to win and you've got everything to lose. So it's more a matter of culture. It's more a matter of just see you as a C-level, your manager that is ready to take risk. And when it happens and fortunately, sometimes it happens, then you can try things and you can it's OK for you to miss Target.
And so as far as you don't change, for instance, your objectives at that have what we do at the beginning of the year, we set objectives where basically you will earn one hundred percent of your bonus only if you have taken a risk, because we talk about new projects, we talk about the things that you are expected to do, but we don't know what they are about. It's just you got to try something because you know that Gmail went out.
If we listen to the legend of Google from a free time.
So this is what it's all about. It's about taking risk, taking the risk to meet the target, to fear that when you are experiencing the period we are living in right now with the situation and you see the government's not all of them, not Donald Trump, but some of them saying, I don't know, I don't have a clue. Let's find and let's search together. I believe when you got presidents, ministers that say, I don't know, maybe you are authorized to say I don't know when to take risk.
Right. And so but taking risks and getting these new people in the team risk still have to be measured. Right. I'm curious to see how you embed that in the objectives of the employees. I don't because I can take a risk, but it can be a stupid risk. Right. I can drive my. Being drunk and that's a risk and that's not a risk you want to reward. So how do you do that then? OK, that's a good instinct, because if you go back to the driving being drunk, what could be the benefit to do so?
I mean, there could be a benefit to go on stage if you are a musician and play being drunk like the doors were doing it. Like we are talking about the Beatles going in this ashram for the White Album and taking drugs. I don't say you got to dress to create another victim. I just say they took risk. But when you listen to the White Album, you will never know if the risk paid or not. You just knows that they were looking for something else.
They were looking for an escape. And once again, I'm a musician and I don't take drugs. So I believe that and other ways to do so. But I understand the benefit they were looking after as you could, and you could explain to your boss that there is a benefit to hire me because you wanted to create zests. You want that to happen. You want me to bring this skill. You want me to bring that possibly good atmosphere was talking about.
There is no explainable benefit around the fact to drive drunk except taking risk and putting the lives of others in danger. So obviously, it's common sense. It's common sense about the risk that makes sense to be taken on. Not after that. Once that being said, it's not totally true because once could say there is a risk to take drugs to create and you shouldn't do that. So once again, it's very subjective. So that's why I believe and that's why I wrote this book called Unique, I believe that at the end of a life it will be all about the reasons why we took risk and when it's been painful, when it was not, and trying basically to write its own life, its own values, its own culture.
And this is what creating teams is all about.
It's about this kind of false like in of that bind people together, you will create your recipe and maybe you will be successful for that and maybe you will fail for that. But don't you think, Robin, that it's worth taking the risk to bring something new when you see the complexity of the problems we've got to face with on the societal standpoint, on the sustainable standpoint, on an economical standpoint, we got to take risk. Otherwise, I don't see how we would go out on these extremely weird and complex situation.
So what I like is and this reminds me also something else. We tend to measure decisions based on the results, but also taking risks is making decisions that can yield higher results. But I've also a higher probability of failing. So if you take your decision that 60 percent likely to fail, but in the remaining 40 percent of cases, then it's a huge a huge increase, then it's probably worth taking the decision. So I like the idea to reward risk not only based on just taking risks, but also explaining that there could be some benefit to this risky decision.
It's all about what we are living right now with. I'm sorry, maybe I don't know the English word because I don't use it that often about the vaccine. You know, it's all about 90 percent of it is that it works. And so you get ten percent out of that. Possibly you could have an issue, but that isn't it worth it and so on and so on. So it's not to go into this debate, but. Well, once again, my deep feeling around that is that we don't have any choice.
Maybe 30 years ago, 40 or 50 years ago, we could say, well, everything is going well, why should I take this risk? But honestly and you know, it's interesting, Robyn, because so I'm older than you. I've been creating my first company, which was in two thousand. So I imagine that in 2000, when you have just your PhD, that's not exactly what your environment expects to do, create your own company, because that was more fashionable to become a computer engineer or trader at the time that become an entrepreneur.
But according to me, I had no option because the way I was looking at the labor market, what my parents, my family has experienced and their friend and friend of the friend and so on, according to me, just joining another company just to. Earn my living and expect six p.m., expect my five weeks of vacation to start being myself was not an option. So around me, everyone was thinking I was taking a risk. Actually, I didn't take a risk because there was no other option to me.
And I believe that 20 years after, is there a risk to take one? Is there a risk for someone to create a team when he knows that if he just follows all those, if he's just continuing doing what was done 10 years before, five years before, you know, that from one then to another, you will be disrupted. You know that. Everyone knows that. So the risk today, according to me, there is a higher risk not to take some risk of doing it, because I don't have to mention from an individual point of view, the only risk I had possibly taken at the time was to be happy during forty five years at work.
Is it really a risk? Because I knew that otherwise I wouldn't be happy so there was no risk. So that's why another way to assess risk management when you hire people is easy with your risk on that. So I'm going to give you a counter situation, because if my team and you see that in sports, we had mentioned NBA and thinking about the Golden State Warriors during the year 2010, and sorry for those eight basketball, you can still have four for women.
Well, that is a perfect team. That's a perfect combination with the stars. So it is a different career and so on. And you add the B player like Andre Iguodala that happened to be a perfect match with Stephan Curry and the other players at that time when they hired Kevin Durant. Actually, they took a risk. They hired the staff, they felt and the president of the team thought that if you add a star to this great team, it will be even greater team.
But that was not my feeling at the time. They had an alchemy. That's something special. And if you add another star on the team that has something special, possibly you could crush everything. And according to me, this is what happened because Kevin Durant is not known to be a team player. And so coming back to companies, a bunch of stars have never, never made great teams. So once again, coming back to this risk management, we should reassess everything.
So it comes from the SIU, the charges, the managers and the labor market in itself. That's why I wrote Reneke. It's all about people that contribute to a common project. If they share this common purpose, if they are ready to work for the team, not for the recognition, the personal recognition, then you can create incredible things. But when you start talking about your individual recognition, when you start thinking more in terms of success, then just doing your work and getting some pleasure out of your contribution and the will to do it well, you don't win anymore.
You become something else. And and we see that at the business level, at an artistic level in sport, we see that everywhere.
And we should have Warriors fans in the audience right now. So I hope they agree on your lecture on the twenty sixteen season. So if we get back to a another thing that you recently said in the speech was and that's also a bit strange, a bit paradoxical, but A's are more likely to take risks because they don't have a manager that can fire them. So they're not worried about that. So in a way, I can take risk and even to be less biased than a human.
Let's be clear about that. I don't say there is no bias. I don't say our objective. I don't feel that you got the book of Cathy or Neil Weapons of Mass Destruction, which is a joke about mass destruction and the mathematics. It's a very good book, really highlighting all the risk around. So I'm not an idiot. I know it exists. What I said is that the machine has no bias because it's kind of pure at the very beginning.
But as with children, you educate and there is no machine that will become. And if we can talk about intelligence in itself, it could become intelligence easier because you have educated with a supervised learning is because it has been trained or trained itself with the data you gave it. It means that even if very there are some biases, it will come from the bias of your data, not from the machine. And what I said, giving with this neutral thing is that if I say, for instance, Robyn, that you could become a wonderful basketball player, you will tell me impossible because of this.
Because of that. And why can it be impossible? Because it never happened before that someone like you become a great basketball player. So machine is going to work differently. It's going to correlate data one with another, and suddenly it's going to create a new knowledge, a new pattern, saying, well, it happens that great basketball has got all these skills, capabilities, clearly the way you want.
And actually you've got plenty of them. I mean, that's that's why we think you could be a great basketball player. It's neutral. There is no opinion around that. There is no judgment. Judgemental matter is key with technology. That's what I said. First, I believe that technology should be used not to replace human beings. It should be used to complete education in a way. And sometimes the education we haven't received. And it should be used to reveal talents, skills, potential that maybe you are not even aware about because no one has shown you that.
And we need murals. We need a coach. That's why I mentioned we learn team keep the and other breakfast club in a generation I because I believe that there is a lack of coaching, of mirroring education, and because of all the data we have collected on, you can act as a mirror.
And when this mirror will have been effective, then you could have another benefit from a which is what we try to do at the end of it to push you some ideas that we call insights business. One example is you could apply for this job, you could contribute to this mission. You should follow this training course that would perfectly fit with your personal and professional ambitions and so on and so on. And then once again, I can tell you, for I've been having worked in for twenty years now, that no H.R. will ask the sales director to become a cyber security expert because it's not the way it never happens.
But if I find something better and discovers a pattern that no human being will have never discovered, then and I could push for this very position of cybersecurity expert to a sales director just because it makes sense, actually, even if it has never happened. And that's why I believe that we can, in a way, humanize relationships at work also because you could push for mentors, coaches and basically favor relationships that could not possibly happen without technology. So the only thing is that if you want technology to help you to take risk and sorry, Robin, we come back to that again, technology will be extremely effective, but it's all about if it's all about automation, if it's all about can we earn some money and save some money, we're automating this process because we know that it will be more effective that if we let a human being, if it's all about money, we won't get the best out of technology and out.
We need the different software, a different mindset. We got to go as far as the French reference, but the officially Missouri sociologist explaining that now we got to go for things that have no price. It's got to be about something else, not about money, not about quantitative things. We are probably entering an era. It will be about quantitative outputs. It will be about things that do not have price, and I believe in that. And it's not philosophy.
I believe this is the next. So postmodernity. This is what I believe in.
OK, well, thanks, Alex on. This was great. We talked about a high number of books today. So I for one, will definitely buy the weapons of mass destruction. Or we also could have mentioned continents thinking fast and slow, which is a personal favorite as well. So it was great having you and obviously your two books, A Generation, a unique. So thanks for today.
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