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Balance wins games, but teamwork wins championships.


Welcome to eight players. But guess what? We'll tell you how to target, hire, retain and train performance for your team, understand and build good decision frameworks.


And I think that's worth understanding more about mental models will give you. And that's what I think gave her a Weisberg's book has been really instrumental in my career, particularly last year and a half, two years, where now I've been able to make a lot better decisions simply because I've been able to view them through the mental model framework lenses that have been quite powerful.


I am rubbing shoulders you at higher suites and we are still seeing automation software that helps the tech companies hire the best shot at me and follow me now, only to want to keep an eye on this.




So today we're welcoming Ross from Uber, US as a 30 years of experience in the recruiting industry, work that various startups, not Uber and is no senior manager, technical sourcing and the marketing team. Is that right, Ross? That is correct. Cool. So welcome, Ross. Thanks for your time. Can you tell me more about what it means to be your manager and the technical sourcing team? What does it mean for your day? How do you work?


What are your objectives? I appreciate the question on that.


Yes, I oversee the product management and data science sourcing function at Uber here in North America. So I have a team of folks that I lead who build out all product management and data science hiring throughout North America. So we generate a number of hires, but we do that through a really strategic partnership with our priorities. And I think it's helpful to even understand we talk about what sourcing means it over big. A lot of companies in a lot of perspective on sourcing might think that it's a it might be a little bit more of a junior role or role that isn't quite recruiting.


Right. And I think there's there's a lot of folks who think you need to get into sourcing to then get promoted into recruiting. And we generally have a belief that Edinburgh, that sourcing and recruiting are really equal peers. So we partner really closely with the business to identify what the current and future talent pipelines that we need to develop in order to meet the strategic hiring goals for the business. So we do a lot of talent mapping, market mapping, strategic partnership around, you know, events or we did a lot of events previous to previous to the pandemic and covid where we invite speakers in and do a lot of different things.


But certainly we're really tight strategic partners with that, with our hiring teams, again, all throughout North America. So Seattle, San Francisco, Chicago, New York, Toronto, kind of everywhere, everywhere in between.


And so you're saying that the talent acquisition roles are evolving to something more probably strategic and analytical, equating to, as you said, the talent, etc.? Would you say that's a recent change of yours in the talent acquisition roles evolving in that direction recently?


I think it has a little bit. I think the function of talent acquisition and just overall recruiting industry in the last couple of years, and I would say probably five to seven years has really made significant strides. And I think there's a couple of reasons for that.


One, I think there's just better tools available for sourcing recruiting. So when I first started in recruiting, everybody was talking about this really cool tool called LinkedIn that everyone had to use as a recruiter. And now it's now it's what everybody uses. Right? I mean, that's so commonplace. It's it's almost not even worth mentioning, you know.


But now there's a number of tools that are out there that allow a source or recruiter to really be very thoughtful about who they are engaging and when they're engaging. Right. We know a lot more about our communities in which we engage and we know a lot more about what they think of our brands. So I think the industry itself is really starting to evolve and change and becoming and has for the last number of years, but really just being much more strategic as opposed to just being purely execution and focused of you see Rick fill Rick where I have a just general thought that the old school method of let's find one hundred candidates and contact everybody and hopefully one of them will get hired, I don't think that's necessarily the case anymore.


I think there's some flavor that that will continue. You have to talk to a lot of people in order to, you know, in order to have somebody who interviews. Well, right. To receive an offer and to accept the offer and then to accept what unfortunately, we're just still not in this place where one candidate comes through. The process is going to be the perfect candidate who comes to the process. There still will be a couple of interviews that will need to go through and that kind of piece.


But I just think we've moved further away from this high volume high, you know, spamming. Model as an industry, which I'm really proud of, because that's obviously given a bad rap and bad to to the recording industry, but now I think it's much more strategic and focused. Right. So what we focus on and what I've seen a lot of smart companies focus on is what is succession planning look like? So if you lost your individual on your team, what does that mean for your business today?


What does that mean for your team six months from now, the products that we can focus on? So how can we get ahead of some of that? How can we really be your strategic partner to make sure that your business doesn't falter, doesn't stumble when you really need the right person? Right. See, and I think when I first started in recruiting was let's just make a bunch of hires really quickly. And that's what recruiting is focused on.


And I think it's been really refreshing to see the industry really change. And that is something is a lot tighter strategic partnership with the business. But I will say that that behavior does still exist. But because of the advancement of tools like hire suite, for instance, and a lot of other really smart tools that are out there, I really think that transactional recruiter in the next five to seven years probably won't have a job in recruiting, or at least it's not going to be a position that you'll see a lot of.


I think it's going to make it's probably going to disappear. And I will say, thankfully, in the next couple of years, those just super high transactional recruiters that just fill Rex and move on. I don't I don't see a home for them or I don't see a future where that type of function really, really exist, in my opinion.


Traditionally, it's the leadership giving a roadmap to the talent acquisition team for them to execute and have no saying that. And no, you you're saying that the talent acquisition team, at least, that Uber is also in charge of drafting that roadmap and deciding how to scale the team and trying to predict the roles they'll be needed. Do you think that's the case because it's Uber and large company, or do you think that even small startups tend to 50, 200 employees should give more room to their talent acquisition team and trust them to prepare the recruiting roadmap?


That's a really good question. I guess just the point of clarification. We do that in partnership with our with our business. Right. We're not exclusively going to dictating what some of that roadmap will look like. We're do that entire partnership. And, of course, we take a lot of direction from our business because, you know, we need to understand really what it is they're looking for. But it is a it is a tight partnership and there's a tight communication that we'll have with them.


But I think if you just look across the industry, here's what here's what I've just kind of noticed has happened, the recruiters of today.


Have more local education within our industry than what we had in the past. There's tools like social talent, which I think is a great tool for recruiter education and sorceror education just to understand what best practices look like. I think there's a lot of blog posts that are out there. There's more conferences that are out there. Last week there was a virtual conference that was hosted actually from Europe. That was an international sourcing summit where just brought together all of the sourcing professionals globally.


It was probably the biggest source conference globally that I remember political. I think it was something saucing summit.


It was S.O.S, you remember, was the acronym that we saw for it.


So I guess what I'm articulating there and what I'm alluding to is I think there's more awareness around how to be a really Atitlan advisor with the business as opposed to simply, I don't say just being a recruiter, but really being an Italian advisor and really understanding the market. Right. There's more tools to do this, as I mentioned.


But there's also just a lot more education and allow recruiters to be aware of what some of these best practices look like. Again, I started in recruiting in 2007 when LinkedIn was the big thing that everybody was talking about, but there were really few resources to understand what are the best ways that other companies, the best ways that people are attracting talent, retaining talent, developing talent. It's a really fascinating kind of growth and evolution I've witnessed in the recruiting industry since 2007.


It's still not taught at the academic level, right? It's still not a college degree, for that matter. But we've seen a lot of development within this. And then now we start to see companies where you have really tighter partnerships with organizational development, greater organizational psychologists that help recruiting organizations will be much more strategic.


So, again, we've done some smart thing to do, but there's a lot of companies that have done some some really intelligent things. Right. Amazon has been a great company and we've seen a lot of innovation. Facebook has done a lot of innovation. Google continues to innovate within the space as well. But it's a really fascinating kind of model of what you seen large organizations kind of do. Now, with that being said, yes, the question is that going to go around startups?


And I think that's also worthwhile to touch on as well. I think what startups I think now can really expect to see do and what they should expect in their talent partners is not simply someone who can just come in and fill a bunch of roles for them quickly.


If that's what you need, you can find that you can hire a lot of people that can do that extremely efficiently and extremely well.


But my advice for startup founders and organizations that are smaller, growing and 30 to three hundred people and want to go from 30 to three hundred or three hundred or three thousand is don't sell yourself short and really go identify strategic talent partner that can help you plan for the next maybe three to five years. And it's not just within the talent function, meaning the recruiting talent acquisition function. But I read quite a lot around what are the company's successes and failures that have occurred.


Right. That's how we learn. It's not just from our wins and failures and successes. But if you read Ben or his book, The Hard Things about hard things and he even touches on this, you got to build an H.R. function early in your company's history to prepare for maybe tough times or prepare for good times as well, but really allow that to be a strategic partner for you.


And I think you'll have a lot of wins and successes do it predictable and successfully, because every startup founder tries to look at the product market fit product, market fit, product marketed. And that is incredibly important. And that is that I think the foundational job of the founder and partner or CEO of a startup. But if you can really partner with a people team exceptionally well, you can identify talent, you can retain talent, you can grow talent.


And that talent then attracts and grows other talent. Right. And then you kind of have the network effects of good people, attract other good people, top talent attracts other top talent. So there's there's a whole conversation around all that as well.


It's the players hire great players and and B, players hire C players, no doubt about it.


No, the question is that the focus is, of course, about eight players. And no, that's a very interesting question, is how do you hire the players will be in charge of hiring eight players then. And the how do you build a good strategic talent acquisition team? Do you have any specific advice on that? How do you find those people? How do you assess them?


Yeah, so I think it's helpful to talk about how to identify desired players. Right. In general. Let's start there because and then we'll kind of go into how to build a really robust acquisition function, because I think if you hire a players and we use the word A players, that applies to also your talent acquisition function, but also to your engineering staff, your design staff, your sales staff. Right.


Everybody else, too. And some of these might sound a little obvious, but these are just things that I've learned through being in Silicon Valley, the Bay Area, for roughly.


For the last 10 years, we've seen companies go through acquisitions, but also seen companies fall apart and really go out of business, too, and it's been really surprising to see how many times these same things reoccur time and time and time again, both in the wins and losses and failures. But I think a lot of companies just think when you're first starting off, obviously acceleration, speed and velocity are so important and no one's ever going to argue that.


Right. You have a limited, narrow window to grow and succeed, particularly if you just raised a round of funding from blue chip investor and you really have a tight window in order to win Excel. But at the same time, I don't think there's ever a time when you should, especially early in your company's history, but certainly even later on to to ever compromise for the level of talent you're looking for part one. Right. But what I mean, compromise for talent, thinking, you know, what exactly is you're looking for and be very, very, very, extremely clear what it is that you are looking for.


I've noticed so many founders will say we need this. And then three days later, actually, you know what? I change my mind. I need this. And then two weeks later, actually doing something. I had a client come to me. He said they'd love this and I need to I now need this. But if you're changing your mind every three months or every three days or every three weeks, I think that would be a little bit of a time period where that's what a strategic talent adviser, a talent partner recruiter should come to you and say, you got to stop doing that.


You need to be firm from day one, extremely clear what it is you are hiring for, because type A talent or a talent doesn't change or a talent is a talent. It will always be that. But if you don't know what you're a talent looks like, how could you hire for that talent? So you got to know exactly what it is you're hiring for part one. Part two, you need to know once you know what you're looking for, you then need to know exactly how to engage with that talent.


And what is the story that really makes sense to share with the talent as well. So I read a lot of Paul Grams of his essays and his blog, and I know he talks a lot about how to pitch in and really how to put together a nice narrative.


I think that's one of the steps that I think I find a lot of startup founders really miss as well, is they pitch to get around to funding, but they stop pitching and they stop selling because candidates, while they are not going to be investing dollars with you, they're going to be investing their careers and their time and their livelihoods. They're going to spend more time with you maybe than they do with their spouse or their partner or their friends or their family.


You need to pitch them as hard as what you pitching investors. And I think having your story really clear to them is really important. But that story is going to change. That pitch is going to change. The pitch you might share with investors to raise around funding may be similar, but it's going to be a little bit different for the candidate you're looking to bring in. What is that going to do for their career? What does that going to do for their growth and how joining that organization is going to be the differentiator for not only that organization, but also for them as people?


Just a quick question for us having to look at the programs. You're talking about the book, both how to present to investors where says explain what you're doing, get rapidly to demo better narrow description of the vague one. Yeah, that's the great one.


And then there's actually I think in that essay, I believe if I remember, he actually has a link in there that I believe in other Y Combinator partner put in there for like basically a model pitch deck.


And I think it's a really amazing way to think about your narrative as a founder. Again, not just when you're pitching to investors or to prospective clients, but to candidates as well. Get that down, get it down fluidly and be able to share that with family and friends and your peers and your colleagues to practice it, rehearse it, because once you have an a talent individual in front of you in a a really, really rock star performer in front of you, you've got to make sure that narrative is there.


You got to make sure it's clear, because if you don't know when we talk about a talent. There's not thousands of really talent at that level, there might for your startup and for your organization maybe. Ten by four. We're talking about the really like I don't mean the top 10 percent of the town, I mean the top one percent of the one percent, the talent for your organization, because what you're doing is unique and different and special.


There's not one hundred of your companies. Right. Because if there were, how special would it really be? Right. There's only one of the companies that you are building. So it might only be the total addressable market of what you're looking at. A couple of people. You got to be really careful and not lose that opportunity with that. Now, don't put a lot of pressure on yourself. And if you lose them, of course, yes, there's other talent available and you have to shift your perspective there, but you've got to make sure that narrative is there.


You have to it's so clear within that.


So one is finding out what you're looking for and be firm from day one. Part two is to engage with them and build that narrative using probably programs like busts.


And what spot three then I think part three is knowing how to assess that talent, how to understand. What do they do? Are you sure this is the talent that you're looking for? Can they do exactly what it is you're looking for?


I come back to what Peter TEALS book zero to one, I think is a good explanation of this. When you're first building, you're building a team.


There could be type A talent or a player talent, rather, that can do a lot of things, but realistically likely not the person you're looking for. It needs to be such an incredible specialist, perhaps in one area that where they are weak. That's OK, because you have somebody else who is really amazing in that other area. But I really deeply how to assess that talent. And I think what I also find a lot of founders not doing is planning on how they're going to assess that talent.


I've seen a lot of founders go into interviews and just go, so tell me about your background and then that kind of fall short. That's kind of the whole interview. They're not really sure how to set up a structured interview process. It kind of feels like a scientific experiment to me to say, right, you've got a hypothesis, you have control and you've got a variable. What you control are the questions you ask, the variables or the candidates.


You need to ask every candidate 90 percent of the questions. I would say maybe eighty five percent questions, the same of every candidate engage in and evaluate the responses. So you really have a good, clear mechanism for evaluation. I think a lot of that is fairly understood and perhaps understood, but perhaps it's not. And maybe there's folks listen to this for the first time that this is the first time they've heard that. And that's OK. But having really tight structured entity processes, I think are incredibly, incredibly important.


And I find that particularly when founders are really setting themselves for success or attempting to set themselves up for success, I think that's one of the things they fail to to think about is, again, everything's about product market fit and how we grow and get more customers and more revenue in the door. Sure, you've got to do that. But hiring great talent is an art form, and I think you need to prepare for that and understand how are we going to evaluate this talent?


What narrative are we going to share with this with this individual to bring them on board? And if we back that up even further, as I mentioned earlier, you've got to know who you're going to know, who you're looking for as well. So all three of those things are incredibly important and certainly there's more to it than that. But those things very much come to mind.


And when it comes to the assessment, are there any specific questions that you that you like to ask that you feel are really looking for? What are your tricks and the questions that you like to keep up your sleeves? And that's to everybody. So I think that's a tough question, Robyn. And here's why. I think I'd like to focus a lot more. The interviews that that I've seen work successfully, very much competency based meaning. Can this person do what is expected of them to do within this function and whether that software engineering or sales talent acquisition?


I think it needs to be very, very focused on an objective analysis and objective evaluation of what that person's skills are. I have noticed a lot of organizations is definitely not one of them, but I've noticed a lot of startups actually, again, go in and use those questions like, so tell me about yourself and what is your greatest strength and what's your greatest weakness? And I think those are extremely poor predictors of success. Quite frankly, I I think a lot of those questions that we think of, we think about how to prepare for an interview.


And if you go on LinkedIn and find how to prepare for an interview and you come across as questions like tell me about why you want to work here and why do you want to leave your current job? I don't know if those are actually good predictors of success because those questions can lead to false positives. There is a question, though, that I have often found that I like to ask that again.


I read a healthy amount and I learned this from JoCo. Well, Nick, who is a former Navy SEAL in the United States military, who he asked this question. I think it's a great, great question to ask. But to preface this, I want to say that I think reference checks for the most part are a waste of time. I just don't think reference checks actually are, again, a good predictor of success. I think that's what the interview should be about.


You give giving interviews done really correctly, a reference check should not be about whether or not you want to hire someone. A reference check should be more around how to really best optimize for working Thacker's. How does this person respond under pressure? So I can make sure once we get to those moments of pressure, I know how they're going to respond and I can best optimize best work for the solutions, for instance. But to clarify, I don't think reference checks are good value added to due process.


But this is the question I like to ask is to kind of get back to the question itself. The question I like to ask is and Robin, let's say you're the candidate that I was interviewing.


I would ask you, Robin, let's assume, for instance, I check your references, which I'm not going to do, and I laugh.


I laugh.


But to see my check, your references, if I checked your references for maybe your last three managers or the folks who you worked with really closely, the folks you were going to list out as references, they're going to tell me all the great things I'm going to want to know about you.


Right. That's why the references and probably your friends. Right. At some level, they're going to say Robbins'. A smart he is hard working, strategic, they're going to tell me all the things that I'm expecting them to say, but they're also going to tell me the things that I should probably determine throughout the process as well.


But and this is where the interesting this is my question I ask Robin, if I ask you what the things your references will say about you, what are they going to say when they go? Robin is great, but. And after they say, but that's when I actually only care. Robin is great. He works really hard. He's incredibly strategic, but he sometimes puts too much pressure on himself. Sometimes Robin will, you know, try to suffer in silence a little bit, not ask for help, for instance.


Right. Whatever those answers are. And there could be a multitude of answers there. That's the question I like to ask. The reason I like to ask that question of candidates is it's for multiple parts here. But predominantly, I want to see if the candidate is really self-aware. I want to find out, do they know what other people might say about them? Not to say that we're trying to hire insecure individuals, but I think we can understand maybe where some of our where some of our opportunities for growth and success are.


Maybe I want to find out, has this person ever been given feedback? What you often find are people who are really, really high performers are ones who elicit feedback constant.


And they are they are OK with it, they enjoy it, right? They kind of seek it out well, from my perspective, and they be players and see players. Not only do they when you ask him that question, they're going to go, you know, everyone's going to tell me I'm great. They're going to say nothing of great things about me. That shows me that person's probably not self aware, but they've probably not gone out of their way to elicit any type of constructive feedback.


I mean, let's be honest. No one's perfect. No, you're never going to hire anybody who is, even though we're going to hire a talent of the talent of the talent. So we want to hire everybody has something that they need to work on for folks who can don't have anything, nothing to work on. I actually get a little concerned because if you've got nothing to work on, you're probably going to get bored in the job that we're going to hire you in.


And in six months, I won't have to backfill you. And then I've wasted all this time hiring you and onboarding you and developing just for you to disappear down the road. So I love ask that question by we check your references. What would they say at the point where they'd say Robin is great? But that's the question I ask.


What do you think about a players having poster syndrome when they'll probably say much more to that question than B players say? C players, as you said, would probably say, I'm great, I'll have anything to say. Yeah, but it's a valid question. Do you see the players tend to feel like they can still improve a lot and so they need to change. Yeah.


And actually I think that's in some ways kind of the sign of an eight player. Right? I mean, look at LeBron James. Look at Steph Curry. I mean, look at Michael Jordan. I don't know if anybody watched the last dance on him, but how it was fascinating when he talked about his relationship with Phil Jackson. Hands down. I mean, any one of those three basketball players in their respective time and team, easily the best basketball players you've ever seen court at one time.


Right? They've had coaches. They even had areas they need to improve. Kobe Bryant was the same way. Kobe was notorious for getting feedback from Phil Jackson and helping improve and working with his trainers and coaches. So if a candidate comes to you and they say, actually, here's like ten things I need to work on, I think that's a conversation starter. In fact, I think that's a good way for the candidate for you to realize in that candidate.


I've got someone who's really self-aware, who has a lot of emotional intelligence because they're they're willing to divulge these kinds of things to me. They're willing to announce early on in the process what they need to get better at. And I think as a founder, I think it's our business leaders and as leaders and managers in general, I think it's our responsibility to make people better.


Right now, not every person you're going to hire is ever going to check every single one of the boxes. And you should expect that.


But I think kind of the definition of a player is they are extremely, extremely talented in one or a couple of areas. But the areas where they may lack, I think that's our responsibility to help them improve and make them better writers as business leaders, as leaders in general, as its founders. But I think it's a good sign. And I think that, again, it opens up the conversation to. Well, so tell me more about that.


You mentioned this like how did you come to that realization? Why do you feel like that is your opportunity for growth or for success? Now they're coming to you and they're saying things like, you know, hey, my biggest opportunities, I can't show up on time and I can't I can't complete projects. Well, maybe that person is not the right. It's obviously all contacts, right. Everything about whether sharing with you. But it's a conversation and I think it's a good way to understand more of the person you're hiring.


Again, it kind of goes back to the fact that we don't spend so much time with these individuals throughout our lives and professions and careers. Don't you really want to know who you're hiring, not just what they can do? I would rather know who am hiring and who I'm bringing in. Because the hours are going to be long and the mornings are going to get there fast and we got to know we're we're really in it with these people and I want to know who I'm hiring.


That question also also gets to the to the heart of who those people are in some respects. Right. Doesn't answer everything, but to let you know who you're talking to.


That's a great and very actionable thing that everybody can use in their hiring process like that. My last question may be so you mentioned a lot of books. You mentioned Paul Grump's essays, Peter Thiel, 021, Benowitz, the health things, the whole thing about things. You mentioned the last Netflix documentary. You mentioned the weather that events, the saucing events. But if we were to stop the interview here, what all the other things that you would recommend reading, listening to watching one of the things the resources that you you found help you grow as both team leader and recruiting expert.


Yeah, those are good questions. And I could probably spend a half hour talking about all the books that that have helped me kind of grow and develop as a person, as a leader.


But to be honest, I saw a lot of growth and development to go. So maybe I'm not the best person to answer this. But the things that I've read and you said to give a couple of easy ones out there and maybe the easy ones were not. These are quickly anything by Ryan Holiday, particularly his book is The Enemy and the Obstacle is the Way. Brilliant. Anything by Tim Ferris. I think just the way that Tim various things and reads, I think that's kind of cliché in some respects, but he's just a brilliant guy and is is obviously had a lot of success as well.


There's a book called The Multipliers, I believe the author's name is Liz Weisman, if I remember correctly. Incredible book as well. There's a ton of literature that's out there around how to really multiply the effects of your organization through the power of others.


I would encourage any leader to especially a new leader, if you're in a leadership role for the first time, really seek out information regarding situational leadership.


I think that's also a really great place to start. But that's the easy answer. I think it's not necessarily the harder answer here, but my recommendation is reading anything written by Gabriel Weinberg, who Gabriel Weinberg is the CEO and founder of Go.


Yeah. Privacy based search engine, that Gabriel might be one of the smartest people I think I've ever I've ever read anything from.


He wrote a book called Super Thinking The Big Book of Mental Models.


So I think when we think about education for a founder and as a leader and as a manager, I think everyone's looking for a call, kind of a Band-Aid fix. You know, it's like, what's the one thing I can read to make my life easier or more effective or better? And everyone's kind of looking for like maybe the quick answer on this. But here's what I would say is understand and build good decision frameworks. And I think that's what understanding more about mental models will give you.


And that's why I think Gabriel Weinberg's book has been really instrumental. My my career, Patrica, last year and a half, two years, where not being able to make a lot better decisions simply because I've been able to view them through the mental model framework and lenses that have been quite powerful.


So but I could talk a lot about other books, seven habits of highly effective people. I think it's great servant leadership. I think it's great. There's a lot of literature out there, but I think just keep reading, keep learning. You can't you can't go wrong no matter what you pick up.


Definitely take Gabriel Winesburg when books book Super Thinking got a one. It's a very powerful tool.


So thanks a lot, Ross. That was great. A lot of very actionable advice, good things and also very strategic things. A good list of books as well. So thanks a lot. It was great having you. Yeah. Let's look again.


It sounds good. Thanks, Robert. Thanks for listening. That still the end. If you're still with us, it's probably that you enjoy the players. Hey, Players is brought to you by myself and higher suites. Well, building a sourcing automation software. And we already helped nine other tech companies hire the best talent.


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