top of page
  • Writer's pictureJosh Levine

Terminal Value Podcast: #166 Candidate are your new Customer with Josh Levin

Recruiting and Career

Doug and Josh spoke about employees being the most valuable assets that you have. The successful companies are the ones that find the right talent, retain great people, and cultivate amazing teams.

Companies should treat new applicants well as they bring their best to assist you expand your business by having a value offer of package, prospective people, purpose, and perception.

Doug's business specializes in partnering with companies and non-profits to create value and capture cost savings without layoffs to fund growth and strengthen financial results.

You can find out more at

You can find the audio podcast feed at

You can find the video podcast feed HERE.

Schedule a free discovery session with Josh to share your company's culture challenges, and see if there's a fit for your upcoming event or training needs.


Speaker 1 (00:05):

So the big question is this, how do value obsessed leaders ascend their business and life to world class levels of effectiveness, even if they're inside a bureaucracy or starting from scratch with absolutely no capital? That is the question. And this podcast is going to bring you the answer.

My name is Doug Berg, and this is the terminal value podcast. Welcome to the terminal value podcast. We have Josh Levine with us today, and what we are gonna be talking about is hiring and retaining candidates. And as Josh

likes to say, "candidates are your new customers." So Josh, go ahead and kick us off today. Just like to, uh, get this topic going cause I think it's really relevant for the current environment.

Speaker 2 (00:51):

Yeah, absolutely. So like you said, The Great Resignation employees have all the power now and they are looking at more than just money as the reason why they wanna work. We've seen this kind of creep creeping in, along with the millennials looking for purpose and what does the company do? But

now we have this big imbalance of power. And so what the question that a lot of recruiters and HR managers and even executives are thinking about is how do I get these people to show up and actually accept my offers? What is it that you want? What is it that they want? They're, you know, I almost feel

like the attitude is, "well, what, well, what do you want?" Right? <laugh> like, that's like, that feels like what, where we're at. And there my focus and my passion is really about company culture. And so we have to think about when we think about what culture is, we have to think about what is it that these

people are looking for and how to consider culture as one of the key things yeah. That these potential employees really are looking at and looking for.

Speaker 1 (02:07):

Yeah. Well, and so this is actually, really topical because of course, you know, one of the things that I do in the many hustles of my life, you know, is work with, with hiring managers, particularly for sourcing it headcount. And one of the things that I've, you know, that, that I've seen in some cases is that

there are actually a surprising amount of people who just still don't get it yet. They run with really slow hiring processes, and then they try to low ball the candidates on their offers <laugh> and then we end up having to start right over from, you know, right over from step one. And so that, that's, that's

actually, I think this is kind of, you know, really topical because, you know, it's like you said money just by itself, doesn't cut it anymore. You know, I think the, you know, the compensation does have to be there.

Speaker 1 (02:47):

Yeah. But it's easy to get wrapped up in compensation, you know, as I'm fond of saying, right, comp has to be competitive and every extra hoop you want people to jump through means that your comp needs to be just a little better than whatever your benchmark says, because, and one of the other things I've seen is I'll work with somebody who they, they go, "Hey, we, we're looking at a benchmark for project manager and it says X." And so what, but you know, what they want is say an IT project manager with experience in it and construction and supply chain and budgets and accounting and finance. And I'm like, okay, you, you understand that when, once you do that, the comp of somebody that you're looking for there is increased by like 50%, because you added so many things to what you're looking for. Mm-hmm <affirmative>.

Speaker 1 (03:31):

And then of course, what they'll do is they'll nitpick through a whole bunch of candidates and find some reason to tell, you know, that every one of them doesn't fit their criteria for whatever reason. And I guess, yeah, that's just kind of, you know, it, it just boggles my mind, you know, just how people really, really don't get it. I mean, and you know, you don't need to throw unlimited amounts of money at people. You don't, but you need to move fairly quickly and you need to have a place, create a place that they want to come to. Of course, the other one that I see is people, you know, they want like say 80% on site and I'm like 2020, isn't going to UN happen. <laugh> um, you know, 2020 is not going to happen no matter what you want say or do. Yeah.

Speaker 1 (04:13):

If you want people to show up on site, either a plan on them not being around that long, because at some point somebody's going to offer them a more remote, more flexible arrangement or B plan on paying them a whole lot of money. You know, which generally speaking, I've found that the people who are high on site tend to be the old schoolers that think it's still 2012, you know, when people are standing in line begging for your jobs, that's not the case anymore. <laugh> and, you know, especially because the thing is you, you can't attract people in a lot of cases with fancy titles, because a lot of people, at least in my experience are really motivated more by being able to do their own thing or have more of a chance to do their own thing versus just being another corporate drone that might, I might be biased by trying to impart my story onto, onto other people.

Speaker 2 (04:58):

A little bit of projection. A little bit.

Speaker 1 (04:59):

Yeah. Little bit. Yeah, exactly.

Speaker 2 (05:02):

Well, so here's, here's how I think about it. And this is I'm gonna build out. What I have learned is the way to think about what the value that you offer. So what is your employer value proposition? And I think about it, like in a Maslow's hierarchy of needs. Yeah. So we go from the kind of the base and you have to, you have to hit each level before you go on to the next one, right before you unlock the next level. Exactly. So the levels are package potential people, purpose and potential package, potential people, purpose and perception. So I was.

Speaker 1 (05:41):

Gonna say, this is almost like you'll Dodge ball, movie Dodge, duck, dip, dive, and Dodge.

Speaker 2 (05:45):

<laugh> yeah, exactly. Dodge, exactly. Dodge, Dodge. Um, so package is all the stuff we're talking about. That's the basics that is gonna be yeah. The payment. The, how much you're getting paid. Yeah. What are the benefits? What are maybe even, you know, some of the perks you gotta, you gotta get that at least to the basics. Right? You gotta, you gotta get, like, let's just say it's, um, industry average. Okay. We'll start with that. We'll start with that. So once we've hit that, then we gotta think about potential. So this is the me, so, so package is me now, right? Yeah. So what do I get now? Potential is me in the future. That's tomorrow. Yeah. So potential is, what do I get tomorrow? Is it that this is a benchmark job? Is it that I it's a, it's a, it's a unpack what you mean by a benchmark job.

Speaker 2 (06:37):

So it's a, it's a brand name. I got a job at Google. And so now you can put X Google on your, when you're done on LinkedIn and everybody's gonna be hitting you up. Right. So what is the brand name that, that gives you that instant credibility? That's nothing, only thing you can also have employee stock options is me tomorrow. It can be a path to leadership inside the organization. Yeah. So you gotta think about potential that's me tomorrow. Okay. So we have me today. Me tomorrow package potential people.

Now, normally what most, um, leaders think about is they think, oh, do they wanna work with the kind of people here? Yes. That's true. Yes. Yeah. But I'm gonna give you a, a more nuanced and more powerful way to think about it. Candidates want to see the kind of people that they could become.

Speaker 2 (07:28):

So it's aspirational. Okay. Are the people that I'm showing up to work with? That is, that is, that is a promise of an evolution of my own personal identity. Yeah. These are smart, diverse, aware, successful, right? Like whatever the insightful, like whatever, the specific aspiration. And so that's, when you think about the presenting thi this is the information that you have to in one way or the other communicate to your candidates. Yeah. So now we have people package potential people, purpose purposes, why you're in business beyond making money. So we talked about that. We talked about millennials looking for that. So you have to have a clear articulation of what your organization's purpose is, because if you don't answer that question before they start asking, like you said, they're not gonna show they're. They're like, what am I doing this again? Cuz it gets hard. Yeah. We know work is hard. Yeah. And that's

expected. And then finally perception. So perception is when I leave this job, what have I become? What did that job? What was the moment that, what was the, the moment in my career path that this provided is it, oh, this enabled me to become a leader and an executive mm-hmm <affirmative> it allowed me to develop my own voice. It allowed me to start my own business, whatever it might be. Right. You made those connections or whatever. And so..

Speaker 1 (08:57):

All, I was thinking, I'm just gonna stop you one real quick here, but you know what you're saying, what I'm thinking of when you're talking about is this Boler hero's journey. And I don't know if you're familiar with the idea of the, you know, in his book, the writer's journey or the hero's journey, but the idea of the hero's journey is that you have a journey of achievement and a journey of transformation. Right. You know, this is the proverbial, you know, Simba's lion king, right? There's the 12 steps of the hero's journey. He, you know, he goes down the hero of ACHI, the, the journey of achievement, he becomes king of the pride lands. But the journey of transformation is that he went from hiding from who he was to deciding that he was going to confront it, to earning his place as king of the pride land.

Speaker 1 (09:36):

You know? And I, if you think about, you know, at least what I, what I'm hearing and again, tell me if I'm projecting, because that might be the case <laugh>, but at least, you know, what, what I'm hearing is when you think about not just that journey of achievement, right. You know, people are going to come work for you and they'll make money in some way, shape or form. It could be salary, stock bonus, whatever the form of the comp I don't think is all that important. Cause you know, comp is it's either adequate. Yes or no. If it's, if it's yes, then okay. Move on to the next box. If no, then you either won't get people in the first place or if you do, you won't have 'em for walks. So, okay. So there's comp right?

That's your journey of achievement mm-hmm <affirmative> but then there's the journey of transformation.

Speaker 1 (10:14):

Who are you going to become between when you start working at a place and when your time ultimately sunsets, okay. This, you know, this is kind of insight. Number two. So anybody listening to this, if you're old school and think that people should be, should work for you for 10 plus years, uh, get over it. <laugh> it's, that's just not how things work anymore. And so, you know, you have to understand that there is going to be a sunset of your time at any given role. And so you have to think, right, who are you going to become from when you start to, when you move on to the next thing in your life.

Speaker 2 (10:43):

Yep. I love the way you're describing that. Both the achievement and the transformation you've nailed it. That's absolutely. And I'm gonna use that the next time I talk about this as the transformation piece.

Speaker 1 (10:52):

Steal away. That's what I did. That's <laugh> that's that's I, I was gonna say that, that that's how the influencer economy works. We, what we do is we talk to a whole bunch of people and then steal all the best ideas for everyone we talk with. And then eventually that amalgamation becomes our own.

Speaker 2 (11:08):

<laugh>. Exactly. So, yeah. I mean, and what is challenging about this? It's very easy to articulate how much money you're gonna get. Yeah. That's easy. And then, you know, you can talk about benefits and you can talk about your potential. You can talk about, oh, here you get X, Y, and Z. It gets a little harder when it's like, who are the people? Yeah. So when you see those landing recruitment landing pages, and you've got the little videos of the current employees, that's what you need to be thinking about. That's the art direction that goes into that, who are these people and that, so that takes a little more effort. Yeah. And then what purpose are you clear on that? Have you articulated that? And that, to me, I mean, in my, in my book, great, Mondays you, the, the starting point of your culture development is purpose.

Speaker 2 (11:56):

And so that is, that is a deep dive and that's like, you do it and then you can talk about it every time. And then finally this transformative effort, you're gonna have a much harder time articulating that. And so when I, when I think about this idea that can candidates are your new customers, you need to be thinking about how do you communicate a sophisticated, seamless experience that demonstrates to these folks we're serious about the employees, the work that we do. And we, and we're thinking about you, we're not gonna just take advantage of you. It is a trade of value. And so you need to be articulating that idea, that bigger idea, well, what's the transformation in that piece and demonstrating, Hey, this is the promise that we're making. Here are the things that you get. And then at least you have a shot at landing that candidate.

Speaker 1 (12:50):

Well, and I think, you know, cuz you know, when you talk about candidates as customers, I think there's a couple of different layers to that that I think are worthwhile to kind of dive into, for example. Um, okay. So, you know, you think about, okay, you, you think about your customer acquisition, right? Okay. So you know, the, the old way of customer acquisition, it, you know, if you're say like the local businesses, you put up a bunch of science, you advertise, you send out bow packs and then just basically wait for people to show up, you know, that that's actually pretty close to how a lot of businesses kind of operate with candidates. I go, okay, well, you know, so let's kind of shift to like the new economy slash online economy. Right. You know? Okay. So, you know, if you were looking to really have a business with engaged clients, what you need to do is you need to have them not just identify with your product

and service, but they also need to identify with your clients and to identify with the mission that your company is serving mm-hmm <affirmative>.

Speaker 1 (13:37):

So what you need to do is you need to target a specific client with a specific offer that is tailored to them, to the specific problem that they have right now that they want to get solved. That that is at the absolute top of their mind. And I think that that level of unpacking that, that level of thought into going after your candidates, right, you need to be looking for candidates, you know, who, you know, they're looking for a specific thing in their career, you know, or they're looking to be part of a specific mission and that specific mission will involve certain skills. But I think that taking that shift in mindset is, you know, is really important, you know? And if you really wanna take it to another level, you know, and cause like, for example, you know, I, I have one, I have a framework that I'm developing right now.

Speaker 1 (14:21):

I call it my, your SRA framework, which is, you know, when you're figuring out how you're gonna source a team to identify what are the skills, what are the results and what are the attitudes? And like, like for example, skills, those are pretty easy. You know, those are pretty easy, right. You know, I want somebody who can code SQL. Okay. I want somebody who can manage projects. Okay. That that's easy results is okay. That's basically saying, what are you gonna be working on? What are you expect to output attitudes is where a lot of people get fluffy, but this is actually where you can, you actually get pretty scientific if you're willing to do the work. And that's where you start, you can look at okay, if you're looking at something like, like a disc assessment or a Myers Briggs or whatever, you know, pick your, you know, pick your assessment, you can say, all right, you know, who are the kind of people that we already have in our team? Where are we already strong and where do we need additional resources? So I let just use disc, for example, you know, you know, I'm a di type of person that if that's not B wisely apparent <laugh> then, uh, but you know, I'm a di type of person. Okay. Well, so what that means is that I would need to be working with people who are SES, because if I get hire somebody else, who's exactly like me, it will drive each other crazy and nothing will get done.

Speaker 2 (15:27):

Yep. I'm gonna add to that and say, the attitude is also to, you can incorporate the idea of, of what your core values are. Yeah. So when you think about what your organization's core values, three to five, most important choices, kinds of choices that you make, you need to think about who you're, who you're hiring and if they are an in at least in the ballpark of understanding and believing and adhering to those values as well. Yeah. So if you think about the difference between Amazon, where it's like, it's all about the customer and you're willing to sacrifice everything, look that's, that works for some people, not for me, but it works for some people versus let's say a, a Wegmans or yeah. Trader Joe's mm-hmm. So that is gonna be those, those two grocery, those groceries who are in an, a typically high turnover market with low wages actually have incredibly great, incredibly wonderful cultures because they focus on those things and they think about what kind of people do I want, and it's gonna articulate that in, in, in their values. So I agree. I, I know that my Myers Briggs, right. So I'm E N J. And so that's,

Speaker 1 (16:45):

I have a, my profile is identical <laugh> yeah. It's also an E N J every single time I've ever taken it. It's the Myers Briggs it's come out E and J

Speaker 2 (16:53):

<laugh>. So, you know, but also an E N J can value the, you know, extreme, extreme focus on the customer or yeah. It can be about, you know, cohesion and collaboration. So there's, I'm gonna, I'm gonna add that into the attitudes bucket.

Speaker 1 (17:11):

Yeah. Well, well, and there was one phrase I heard, I think the person, I heard it from stole it from somebody else who they couldn't remember, so I'm going to give it UNAT, you know, UNAT just as well. Okay. But there was one phrase I heard that kind of talking on like the possibility versus focus and, uh, what he said was he said, uh, saying, yes, we'll get you out of Egypt, but saying, but you need to say no to get to the promised land. And so the idea is that, you know, in order to kind of get from kind of where you are to start, you have to look at a lot of possibilities, but in order to kind of get to, you know, in order to get to kind of really that desired endpoint, you're gonna have to pick one and then go deep. Yeah. And so it's a point, you, what you end up doing is you'll end up, start by going wide, going broad, and then you're gonna have to go deep.

Speaker 2 (17:57):

And it's harder, harder to say, no, it's harder to say.

Speaker 1 (17:59):

No, that's much.

Speaker 2 (18:00):

Harder to say sacrifice those opportunities. Right. When I get a phone call from a potential recruiter, I'm like, there's no way that I'm gonna be take, like, I'm running my own business here, but I do like to get hit on, you know.

Speaker 1 (18:12):

But it's like, exactly.

Speaker 2 (18:13):

No, cuz it's like at a waste of my time. So yeah. I think that's absolutely right. And I'll, I'll bring it back to, you know, the candidate as the customer, this, there is a map, there's a, there is a roadmap for this and you look at the pro the progress and the process that the, some of the modern brands have taken to think about deep com customer empathy. Yeah. Right. To attract that customer. We really, like you said, what is the thing on the top of their mind? How do we do, what is the user experience? Like how, what, what is it they're working on? That is a lot, a lot of value, but it takes a lot of work. And so here we are on the precipice of this, where every business is now going well, uh, what El, what do they want? Right. Like what is it? I can't do anything. It's Hey, to be competitive. You now have to be able to really create a powerful system. That's gonna create, that's gonna, uh, demonstrate your sophistication and care about yeah. What the kind of, what kind of employee, uh, you want and what kind of life work life you are gonna offer.

Speaker 1 (19:21):

Yeah. Well, and I think that where a lot of that comes back to is, you know, especially if you're a small business, is that, you know, really getting people to be engaged with the, you know, with the purpose or mission that you're serving, you know, because I think that, you know, it's, and I think this is actually where a lot of midsize companies run into trouble is that, you know, if you don't have the brand value of someone like an Amazon or a Google, right. You know, you can't assume that everybody wants to come to you just because you post a job. Some people can get away with that a lot. Can't. So what that means is that, you know, if you're in that, if you don't have that premium brand value, then you know, then the people who you're, who you're going after, they need to identify with the mission that your business serves. And if they don't, you're gonna be dealing with a lot of turnover.

Speaker 2 (20:10):

You you're gonna be, you're gonna be going upstream. Purpose is exactly where you need to start. That's a lot of the hard work that we do with our high growth tech clients. It's like, why do you exist beyond making money? And if you can articulate that in 25 words or less, then we're, then we're in the ballpark, right? Yeah. Then we can start to really, really get the, get to the heart of the reason why we're doing this. And look, I'm not, you know, I I'm, I'm not under any illusion that, you know, people are doing this just because of the, you know, the good of their hearts. It it's, it's not, it is about, you know, it is about profit, but profit follows purpose. This is you can't shortcut it. Or at least it's, that's what I would say is the, uh, enduring brand, it is profit is simply the symptom of offering great value. And so there is where you need to really think about your purpose, why you exist, that's what you go for. And then you

can help your employees understand that and how they do that. And then the money will follow.

Speaker 1 (21:21):

Yeah. I, I, I think that's, uh, I think that's fair. That is, that is a very good way to look at it. All right. Well, it's been a great conversation so far, Josh, uh, give us a few more kind of nuggets of wisdom. Uh, let everybody know where they can find out a little more.

Speaker 2 (21:34):

Yeah, absolutely. So I like to think in frameworks and I've written my, my book great Mondays around a framework of establishing a system, a culture system that is not just reactive, but proactive mm-hmm <affirmative> and we talked about purpose, and then you have to define your values, the three to five things that you are working on. Um, it's all about behaviors. Culture is the reason why we're thinking about culture is because it is the cause and effect of everything we do. Once you have those, that's the design of your culture program, then you gotta think about how you activate it. And that's the recognition, rituals, and cues. If you wanna learn more, you can go right to my website. Yeah. I got all the information. My book is available there. Um, I've got a bunch of free downloads and sign up for the, our monthly newsletter called one minute Mondays, we shoot out quick culture tools every month and share, you know, try to share with our community what we're learning. So maybe even Doug, some of your insights will show up in the next one. <laugh>

Speaker 1 (22:34):

Outstanding. Outstanding way. Yeah. Great. Everybody go check it out. And, uh, Josh really appreciate your time today.

Speaker 2 (22:41):

Yeah. Thanks so much for having me.

Speaker 3 (22:47):

Thank you for listening to the terminal value podcast. Please feel free to visit me online at, where you can subscribe, find me on social, and then we can connect and just keep the conversation going. I'm really looking forward to hearing from you. And I hope you have a wonderful day.

28 views0 comments


bottom of page