Harry Joiner of EcommerceRecruiter.com is the featured guest on this week's episode of the Digital Velocity podcast. Tim, Erik, and Harry discuss the process of hiring top-tier Ecommerce talent post-COVID and so much more.
If you are trying to determine who, when, and how to hire, tune in to this episode where Harry describes the many factors to consider when hiring. He says, “So if it's easy to measure productivity and contribution, then it gets easier to outsource any task that can be described clearly. So you say you want to work from home. Great. How do we know if you're doing a good job? Well, traffic goes up, average order value goes up, conversion rate goes up, those three things let's say hypothetically. Well, if that's what we're really looking for, maybe we get better results if we take your job and give it to an agency.”
Harry explains how a misstep in the hiring process can negatively impact your business. He describes that “Every time you get that hiring process wrong, you miscope the position or you hire the wrong person, or you hire the right person at the right time for the right amount of money, but they change somehow your organization gets a little bit farther off course.”
Learn how to hire the right people for Digital Marketing and Ecommerce.
About Our Guest:
Harry Joiner is an executive recruiter for marketing and Ecommerce. He's been interviewed by Success Magazine, and he has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, MarketingSherpa's "Great Minds in Marketing" series, BusinessWeek, USAToday.com, Internet Retailer, and more.
He is utterly blessed to represent some of the best and brightest clients and candidates in the global online marketing community. Many of them have appeared in publications like Fast Company, Business 2.0, Internet Retailer, Search Marketing Standard, Multichannel Merchant, The Wall Street Journal, and Advertising Age.
Erik Martinez: [00:00:00] Hello. This is Erik Martinez from Blue Tangerine. Like to welcome you to this episode of the Digital Velocity Podcast. I'm here with Tim Curtis, my cohost.
Tim Curtis: Hi everybody.
Erik Martinez: Today we have an exciting discussion with Harry Joiner from ecommercerecruiter.com. I met Harry 15 years ago during a digital marketing search as a candidate and got to know him a bit through that process and have absolutely thoroughly enjoyed learning about Harry and [00:01:00] his process.
If there's anybody you want to talk to you about digital marketing, this is the guy. So we are going to spend some time learning a little bit about Harry today and talk a little bit about insourcing and outsourcing and digital marketing. So with that let's jump on in. So Harry, how are you today?
Harry Joiner: I'm awesome. How are you?
Erik Martinez: I'm doing fantastic. We are super excited that you took some time out of your very busy schedule to join us this morning and talk a little bit about digital marketing and insourcing and outsourcing and hiring and all things digital. So, why don't we start with just a little bit about Harry and how you got to be the e-commerce recruiter.
Harry Joiner: Well, I'm the son of a highly successful entrepreneur. My dad and his partner founded and built a really successful company down here in Georgia. I'm based in Georgia. I went to undergrad at the University of Georgia, and I went to business school at the University of South Carolina.
I [00:02:00] did the international business program over there, and ended up an angel round investor and former director of trading operations for a company called Global Food Exchange. Which was in the first .com run up and that business was sold in 2001.
And I was literally unemployed, after that and the recession of like 2001, 2002, after 9/11, I was literally unemployed for two years and I bounced around and did a little interum and consulting based projects. And I ended up at a local contingency recruiting firm, in 2004, called Search Logics Group.
And I was there for about a year and close to some big deals. My wife and I were paying my taxes one day and she said, you're just kind of renting a desk over there. You could do this from home. So we crunched the numbers and I decided to quit and go basically beat the homebase.
Just like everybody right now is work [00:03:00] from home. I've been working from home basically since 2004. I have closed hundreds of searches in the Internet Retailer Top 1000 and B2B communities. I'm on the phone with people four hours a day, five days a week, 51 weeks a year.
I did some math before this podcast. So since 2004, that's 17,000 hours of contact time with e-commerce candidates. That's somewhere probably between 30 and 40,000 phone calls about e-commerce. It's pretty crazy. I'm like an ice pick. I have this tiny circle of competence is very sharply defined around the edges.
I do this one thing all day every day, which is yap on the phone with people about e-com. It's a riot.
Erik Martinez: I complain a lot that I have to sit on the phone, sometimes seven, eight hours a day talking to clients or talking to my team and I just can't imagine 40,000 hours.
I don't want to do that math. That just seems like a ridiculous amount of phone time. So if you're on the phone that much, are you sitting at your desk kind of [00:04:00] doing your thing or are you walking around? My first CFO I ever worked with drove me nuts. I would be sitting at my desk having a conversation, he'd just be pacing the room.
So what do you do when you're talking to somebody?
Harry Joiner: I'm pacing. If you've ever seen the TV show Mad Money with Jim Kramer, the bald stocky guy with a little goatee. So that's me. I have this big home office. My desk is set up in the middle of the office and I've worn a little track in the carpet around the desk.
I have this big library of business books and I'm constantly referring to those and it's actually awesome. This wasn't anything that I intended to talk about necessarily, but it's pretty interesting because the average e-commerce job for somebody like you Erik, last about three years.
Right? The rate of change in the e-commerce business is somewhere between 15 and 20% per year. So like every five years, the entire business turns over [00:05:00] in terms of what it takes to do business online.
For example, when I first got into e-commerce recruiting, there was an Internet Retailer Top 300. And if you wanted to make it into the IRR 300, you did this at Peruvian Connection by the way. You had to do three things really well, drive traffic, improve an average order value, improve a conversion rate.
If you could do that, you'd get into the IR 300. Then it grew to the IR 500 and then it grew to the IR 1000. Then it grew to the IR, whatever it is today, 2000. What happened was it wasn't just DTC, Amazon bobbled up and it wasn't just Amazon 3P, it was Amazon 1P, 3P, FBA, whatever.
There's a bunch of different ways to do that. Then it wasn't just like wholesale online, it was like the Walmart platform and then the Target platform. Now all of a sudden you wanted to sell to your consumer the way they bought, you had to bring what we've come to call a SAFA mentality to that.
So SAFA is [00:06:00] Start Anywhere Finish Anywhere. This idea that somebody could see your product in share, repost or review, and then you retarget them, and then they see some display ads, and then they get a pay per click.
You drive them to an Amazon page and then they buy and then you reach out to them some other way after that, and they buy from your DTC site or whatever. There's this idea that people buy products and they join brands. How can we get this customer to join our brand? How can we get this customer to go on the journey we want to take the customer on in a way so they feel better about themselves because of their relationship with our brand.
Just the whole evolution of that mobile, social, local, global, cloud, personalization, device, location, all the different types of search queries and the algorithms being curated based on reading history and followed accounts and app interactions. It's like boiling the ocean if you really do it right.
You take all of that and you look at it on a per [00:07:00] company basis. So this is like the coolest aspect of what I do is that every candidate you think about this, so I'm a recruiter, so every candidate is ultimately a client and every client, every hiring manager is ultimately a candidate.
So there's no such thing as a bad conversation. I placed you with Peruvian Connection. Then later I placed somebody at Peruvian Connection with you. Now years later here we are doing a podcast. So there's no such thing as a bad conversation, you just have to be really business oriented and you have to have a teachable point of view about this stuff so that people feel like they learn something whenever they touch me or my partner, Allan Seibert.
So I have just as much love and energy for the business and yapping on the phone after 16, 17 years of doing this as I did on day one.
Erik Martinez: That's awesome Harry. I think one of the things I've always liked about you versus some of the other recruiters I've interacted with is that you do take a very personal [00:08:00] interest, not only in your candidates, but in your client companies.
I still think that there are a handful of recruiters that I know that do that today. I think it makes a huge difference in the placement process. I think you have a higher track record of success. Now that's me just having been one of those candidates, but my experience with some of the other recruiters is they're just trying to find a warm body to fill a seat and get their commission as opposed to driving value.
What you're talking about is driving value.
Harry Joiner: We have a really good time with it. If we got hung up or bummed out every time we didn't close the search, I'd be a raging alcoholic. You can put that in the podcast. It's true. It can't be about the money and I'm not Mother Teresa.
I'm a lot closer to Ari Gold than I am Mother Teresa, but there's so much of what happens that you just can't control and there's no accounting for chemistry. There's no accounting for will the sale of the [00:09:00] candidate's home complicate the relocation, will the kids' education complicate the relocation, will care of a parent, or a wedding to plan, or a gazillion ways that a deal collapses.
You just can't think about closing deals. We worry about the top of the funnel and making sure that the middle of the funnel is fun, and if the middle of the funnel is fun, then the rest of it, we presume will take care of itself.
Tim Curtis: Harry, this is Tim. I had a follow-up question, something that you mentioned a little earlier, and that was obviously the complexity of where we are today versus let's say 10, 15 years ago.
The average tenure that you were mentioning . My observation has always been just a broad view as CEO of CohereOne. I get a broad view of different search criteria and what's happening inside a client's businesses, but what's your observation? Are you seeing the average tenure increase or are you seeing that average tenure beginning to decrease?
Are we becoming a little bit more transient let's say we were five years ago?
Harry Joiner: Well, [00:10:00] post COVID we're just seeing an unraveling of the relationship between companies and candidates. That's a fact. Today is the 13th.
So yesterday, May 12th, Seth Godin had an absolutely brilliant blog post. It's called Selling Hours,, H O U R S, Selling Hours. The premise of the posting was, does the boss buy your time or your productivity?
It's this idea that as we start to think about returning to the office, there's three things you got to kind of think about. So if it's easy to measure productivity and contribution, then it gets easier to outsource any task that can be described clearly. So you say you want to work from home.
Great. How do we know if you're doing a good job? Well, traffic goes up, average order value goes up, conversion rate goes up, those three things let's say hypothetically. Well, if that's what we're really looking for, maybe we get [00:11:00] better results if we take your job and give it to an agency.
So that's a thing that you have to worry about. Now, as it turns out, if the company is buying and selling hours, then you shouldn't be all pissed off when surveillance capitalism bumps up against your personal life. It's this other idea that if one of your workers dramatically increases productivity through some sort of an outsourcing arrangement, is that a problem?
If all you care about as an online retailer is whether sales go up. Sales in a pure online retail world would be trafficked on to average order value times conversion rate, if this is just a pure play and that's all you care about. Then if I'm your director of e-commerce and I figure out how to outsource part of my thing to some dude on Task Rabbit or Fiber for 20 bucks an hour, and you're paying me 150 bucks an hour, there's an arbitrage opportunity.
Now, all of a sudden, the whole thing begins to unravel. We were starting to see this. A couple months ago we were working on [00:12:00] a search with a company up in Chicago and we didn't close the search. It was just a giant waste of time, a big budget movie with a plot that went nowhere because the client ended up sourcing a cheaper director of e-commerce from Argentina.
Never happened before. So when I placed Erik at Peruvian Connection a long time ago, Erik was competing against a guy in St. Louis, a lady in Topeka, a person in Wichita, the people were basically local, two people from Kansas City. It's not like that anymore. So because of that, we're seeing candidates taking their careers more seriously in terms of like their own personal value proposition and less seriously in terms of their relationship with their employers, and we are starting to see employers care a lot more about the results and they care less about culture.
You can't see I'm over here shrugging and my head's shaking. I don't know what happens as a result of [00:13:00] that.
Tim Curtis: I think the jury is still out. So my visibility in COVID, brought a lot of clients, a lot of different industries.
I would sum it up by saying, and I've done this in speaking engagements, the observation is that COVID-19 and the pandemic in general did not necessarily create new trends per se, as much as it accelerated trends that were in existence. So this reshifting of a candidate in prioritizing personal value proposition over historically what had been a relationship with an employer, it existed before, but it just really accelerated because now we're looking to achieve things and we're looking for ways that we can do it with the lowest common denominator in terms of pricing.
I do think that we'll see in the months and years to come, maybe the results of a shift from culture to a shift on task orientation. I'm not quite sure that's going to be all that everybody had [00:14:00] expected it to be. I think we may find a little bit of a balancing at some point, but I would say that's my observation has been that it's just those trends accelerating.
I don't know if you could see some of that yourself.
Harry Joiner: So this is just an opinion thing. Like, I don't know how many people listen to your podcast, but here it goes. Okay. So what we have seen is that candidates want to work from home. They're diehard. They want to work from home.
It's like a teenager now that won't get up off the couch. So candidates want to work from home and clients want to reduce costs through work from home. I think what's happening is that clients are afraid to make hiring mistakes given the decrease in in person interviews.
One of the things that's upsetting to our business is that clients are now relying on big projects in 60 day temp to perm arrangements, because it's very hard to assess culture fit on a Zoom call. On a Zoom call, I can tell if there's a [00:15:00] decent flow in terms of speech and everything, but I can't tell if you have alcohol on your breath. I can't tell if you have BO, or if there's some creepy vibe about you on a Zoom call. What's happening is that the hiring process is dragging out and we've lost some candidates due to disinterest or lack of momentum.
There are a lot of unknown unknowns out there. So I have a prediction that repeat candidates in the future are going to have to develop what comedians would call a shtick, right, like an inventory of IP because every time you apply for a job somebody wants you to do a 30, 60, 90 day plan.
Well, if you apply for 50 jobs, what are you going to do 50, 90 day plans for somebody? I don't think so. You'll figure out how to templatize that as much as possible. The templates I think, are going to allow people to manage and produce multiple applications and projects.
What that basically [00:16:00] means is that the hiring process is no longer a hiring process, it's an RFP. This is an actual thing. This whole work from home thing is really beginning to eat away at the edges of our thing. Now I'm relatively bright, I'm highly specialized, I'm highly skilled.
We'll figure it out and we are figuring it out, but what this means for the candidate, again I don't know who's listening to this podcast, but I thought a lot about this in 2020. I read about it, read books on Hollywood, read books on the music business, I talked to some of my music business buddies.
I didn't just sit on my hands and watch this whole thing happened. It appears to me that in the future, candidates are going to have to have a specialized network to help them produce a specialized or niche result. I think five years from now, 10 years from now, the Internet Retailer Top 2000 is going to be like Hollywood, where there are actors and directors and producers who work in certain genres.
So there's a Martinez method of something, there's a Kevin [00:17:00] Ertell method of something. So if I came out there and we decided to do dinner and a movie, the five of us on this call, right? And you guys said, hey, let's go see the new Quentin Tarantino thing, I would know what kind of a night I was going to have based on the fact that you said Quentin Tarantino.
If you said Jim Cameron, right, the guy did Titanic. I would know something about the night and the movie based on just James Cameron. So in the future and the older people, we're all in our forties, a lot of us are in our forties and fifties now, it's really essential that the executives' reputation preceded them.
By the time they get to an interview, there needs to be anticipation. We've heard so much about Erik Martinez, there's claim to fame stuff there. He's the guy that built Peruvian Connection up from nothing. He's the guy who did this, this, and they're going to be some things that you've done that will allow the recruiter to say, if you want this kind of result in your business, drive [00:18:00] traffic, improve an average order value, improve a conversion rate, do this, that, and the other thing in your business, Erik Martinez is on a short list of guys who can give you that result.
He's done it here, here, here, and here. So all of this work from home stuff, it's going to drive specialization, I think. It's going to turn people like me, and I'm not a career coach. My wife's a career coach. I'm not a career coach, but if I were a career coach, a lot of what I would do with candidates is figure out what do you do better than anybody else?
Like if there was a Martinez method of something, what would that method be? If there was business software for the Martinez method, who would need it, how would they know when they needed it? What are the integration costs? How would they know when it was doing its job? What are the costs of service?
What happens when we get an Erik Martinez in our business? I've thought a lot about that. I'm obsessive compulsive. That is why I work from home. I'm a very unique animal. I totally get that, but I've thought a lot [00:19:00] about this one issue and what that means for people in the internet, retailer and e-com communities.
Erik Martinez: So, Harry, let's dive into this a little bit because I think it raises some really critical issues that Tim and I are concerned about as agency leaders, looking at our clients and saying, I'm concerned that the executive leadership at these organizations, and I'll be honest, I work with a lot of small mid-sized businesses, right?
The executive leadership in this new environment does not seem to have, or do they, I guess is maybe the question, the knowledge of how to orchestrate these teams from all these disparate disciplines and bring them together. I liken it to like a conductor in a symphony, right?
I've got my cello section, I've got my bass section. I've got my violas and my violins, by the way, I was a marching band guy, but the [00:20:00] conductor has to take all these disparate skills and orchestrate the music in such a way that it produces a feeling of emotion and power, and all those things that you get from a really, really good orchestral performance.
So every single day in our businesses, we're trying to break it down into some disciplines, which I think are vocational paid search.
I could dive into paid search for a lot longer time than we have to talk today about all the different specialties within paid search and SEO and email and programmatic advertising and so on and so forth. So how do we hire for those executives? Is it that method like everybody subscribes to that method and what happens when somebody upsets that apple cart?
That's one of the things that's going through my mind I'm concerned about. This period of time where we're trying to learn how to conduct an orchestra, but [00:21:00] we don't have the experience to do it.
Harry Joiner: Yeah. Well this all sort of cuts to the center of what Allan Seibert and I tried to do in our business.
So, you're in the emotional bond business, cause the fact of the matter is if Amazon is basically a search engine with a truck and it's one click ordering and it's the infinite aisle, et cetera, et cetera. And it's just so easy to buy anything from Amazon. Well, now the question is, well, why would somebody buy from you directly?
Like my wife goes to JCrew.com and she buys from them all the time. Well, why does she do that? Well, because she likes herself better when she's on JCrew. I mean, that's the reason, right? So JCrew basically is in the emotional bond business and the dimensions of their brand, whatever they are, pleasure, well-being, inspiration, individuality, indispensability, whatever the dimensions of their brand are, it pops through that [00:22:00] UX.
I have a post-it note, like I'm surrounded by post-it notes. There's 10 dimensions of a brand, which if I didn't tell you, I was surrounded by post-it notes, you would just go, wow, this guy really knows his stuff.
There's 10 dimensions of a brand. It's got to have a name. It's going to have a purpose. It's got to have values. It's got to have viewpoints, a story, language, structure, pricing, style of marketing, and it's got to have its own experiences. So basically for any company to have a brand, it needs clarity, ability, and resolve, and the clarity piece is it needs to know what the business is about and who the business is for, and what's the unique selling proposition. Why should somebody choose to do cause that's what that brand versus any option available to them, including doing nothing or including buying on Amazon? Well, the short answer is my wife is in her mid fifties. She wants to feel better about herself because she bought from JCrew.
Well, okay. Now all of a sudden, every single thing about your purpose and values and viewpoint and story and structure and style of marketing and experiences needs to reinforce that. One of the best books [00:23:00] that I've read is Who Do You Want Your Customer to Become? Which I don't even know the dude who wrote it, but it's a great book.
It's this idea that you want to make your customers something. You want to kidnap your customer. Basically you're taking them on a journey. So in the case of Google, Google wanted to make their customer a better searcher because it was ultimately going to be good for their business because Google could change at a rate faster than the rate of change among their competitors.
So they wanted the customer to change at a rate faster than the competitors in the sandbox, so that being in Yahoo we're constantly irrelevant because the customer was searching more rigorously for stuff.
To get the answer to the inquiry that I have, I'm going to have to go to the search engine that's so smart about me it's almost presently asking questions about these things before I even get there. Well, how did they do that? Well, they'd bake Gmail into their product roadmap and so on and so forth. So basically you're [00:24:00] taking your customer on a journey. Okay, now here's what is tough for online retailers, right?
What happens if the average life cycle of a customer, I'm making this up, is eight years? So somebody like my wife whose in her mid fifties, she's been buying from JCrew for, I don't know, let's say since she was 45, totally making this up. Okay. So she's been with JCrew for eight years. Okay. Let's say that the average tenure of a chief marketing officer is three years.
So the first CMO back 10 years ago said to my wife, Arlene, here, I'm going to take you on this journey. I'm going to kidnap you and we're going to this place. And here's the purpose, values, viewpoint, story, language, structure, style, marketing, experience of this place, and my wife is like, sign me up.
I'll jump on board, and I'll tell 10 friends, and we'll all go. And then they change CMOs three years later and we get slightly off tours and then we changed CMOs again, and then we get slightly off course. Well, now what? [00:25:00] Now all of a sudden my wife is like, this is no longer relevant. It's really tough because for every CMO there's a VP of e-commerce, there's a director of e-commerce, there's a customer acquisition person who's trying to drive mentioned repost, and reviews, with strategy in the organization.
Every time you get that hiring process wrong, you miscope the position or you hire the wrong person, or you hire the right person at the right time for the right amount of money, but they change somehow your organization gets a little bit farther off course.
The customers that you put on the bus for that 10 year journey, now all of a sudden they're going in a slightly different direction. You thought you were going to go to Kansas City, but actually you ended up in Tulsa. Well, that's a problem. So increasingly, and you can tell like what what's work from home going to do for all this, right?
If I'm a work from home directly through the commerce and I think I can do the job from home, [00:26:00] but I'm not on-site buying into the purpose, values, viewpoint, story, style of marketing experiences, brand, then I could make decisions about customer acquisition that are not exactly brand decretive and that's a problem. The other problem is, and then I'll shut up. I realize this is long winded, but it's like these days with work from home, this is like a key thing, is that it's no more difficult to change jobs than it is change channels on the TV.
You're watching Seinfeld, reruns, and then you decide, I wonder, what's on ESPN click and you're there. Well, if you work for Williams-Sonoma, great company, I'm not hating on them, but they're just an example. If you work for Williams-Sonoma and Crate and Barrel comes along, it's like, gee, I think I'll go work for Crate and Barrel click.
Like, you've changed the channel on TV. You don't have to sneak out for an interview. You don't have to take a sick day or whatever. So now every single candidate that I talk to people are constantly on the make.
Erik Martinez: Is that a [00:27:00] function of where they are in their career? When you first met me, I was kind of on this binge. I was changing jobs, I would say every 13, 14 months, cause I was trying to climb the ladder, increase my salary and increase my responsibilities throughout that entire process.
So is that a function of where you are in your career or is that everybody today?
Harry Joiner: It's a great question. So before I say this, I'll just say, the first person to live to be 150 has already been born.
So Joe Walsh is still filling arenas and Joe Walsh is 70 or something. Eric Clapton is 74. Morgan Freeman is how old? Merrill Streep is how old? Sally Field is how old? So careers last a long time. Until somebody is about 35, they obsess over whether or not they can do the job, not whether or not they can be a pillar of leadership in an organization. They care about whether or not they can do a job. I think they're constantly trading up for [00:28:00] compensation, just chasing the bigger buck. After about age 35, which I don't know if people are going to hate when I say that, but after about mid thirties, people will change.
It seems like title becomes more important. Then mid to late forties, they start thinking about what's the problem that I was born to solve and how can I do more and more of that? Like a dentist is born to work on teeth, a plumber is born to unclog your pipes. So I think early in the career, it's about money. Second part of the career it's about title, and third part of the career it's about the problem, and candidates start looking for roles in their mid forties based on is this a problem that I can solve?
Can I plug and play and contribute something lasting and meaningful to the company's existing management mix?
Erik Martinez: Do you ever find candidates who are really looking for culture, whether they're [00:29:00] working from home or not? One of the things we try to do here at BlueTangerine, even though we're a distributed team, we've got employees in nine States, we try to bring a sense of culture even to all our remote employees. Twice a week, we do a team-wide meeting. There's some business that's being handled in that meeting but for the most part, it's about connecting with your fellow employees.
I was just reading an article the other day, maybe it was on NPR, I can't remember if I was reading or listening to it, but the CEO of Indeed was talking about the pandemic and how it changed the business and how they started doing these weekly town hall meetings, where everybody in the company, all 10,000 employees, they did some kind of Q and A where they would read questions from the employees and discuss them in this 10,000 person call.
He said, it's interesting, [00:30:00] I am way more connected to my organization today working from home, than I ever was walking the halls of our various offices. I'll admit I'm struggling with this. Greg, my business partner and I, were sitting here going, we want people in the office because there is some collaboration and there's subtle things that happen in an office that you don't get from the work from home thing, even with as good as the tools are with Zoom and Microsoft Teams and any number of other tools that you can use.
On the other hand, we also see that with the right personalities and the right disposition and the right culture, we can create a culture that's still collaborative and interesting and productive with the work from home environment. So the question really is, are there people seeking culture as part of [00:31:00] that mission?
There's gonna definitely be those people who are like, hey, I'm just gonna flip the channel and dial to the next job, like you were talking about earlier, because I can get more money or I can get more vacation or whatever it is. That's important to them at that particular moment in time.
Got to figure that that pendulum has to swing back at some point. If we're just working to be highly task oriented, it feels like we've lost some meaning in this relationship that we have, not only with our employers, but with our customers as well.
What do you think about that?
Harry Joiner: I think you're totally on the right track. So this is all stuff I think a lot about. Just like your customers buy products and they join brands. It's like a little while ago, I said there's 10 things a brand must have purpose, values, viewpoint, story, language, structure, pricing, style of marketing, experiences. Okay. So the purpose piece is a tricky one. If you're [00:32:00] a potential client for me out there listening, I don't really interview around this. You'd have to do your own interviewing around this bit about purpose.
I read a book by Blake Makowski, the guy who founded Toms Shoes, and the purpose of the book was to really sort of explain how purpose and values informs everything else.
The business is about and who the business is for and what makes you unique.
Blake Makowski, a book about Tom's shoes. He talks about how better than having a purpose is for your brand to have a cause, because when you have a cause then you can have a movement, and when you have a movement there's stuff you're trying to accomplish. When you have stuff you're trying to accomplish, then your company can have activists as opposed to fans or loyal customers.
Activists, people who are passionate to the point of insane about your [00:33:00] thing. So years ago I closed a search, closed a couple of like senior executive searches for REI and REI was like, we're in outdoor lifestyle space and I did a kickoff call. This is a fascinating story. I did a kickoff call and it was me on the speakerphone, like Charlie of Charlie's angels, you know?
There was like all these mucky mucks from REIs senior leadership packed in his conference room to talk about the VP of e-commerce and the VP of marketing that they wanted me to go find for their company, little old, me working from his kitchen table in his t-shirt.
They wanted me to go find these two pillars of leadership for their company and Sally Juul, the CEO of REI was on the call and I wasn't intimidated cause she was just another voice on the phone, but it turns out later Sally Juul was the secretary of the interior under Barack Obama. The lady is a complete, like she's certifiably a bad-ass right. Very [00:34:00] thoughtful smart lady.
And during the kickoff call, I said, who's your top competitor and Sally blurted out the couch.
And I thought that was brilliant. The couch, how awesome is that? And what she didn't say, but where she was going with that is basically, it's like Scott Galloway says the store is the temple of the brand and stuff. Well, okay. So if the store is the temple of the brand, then your purpose and values and viewpoint in the story all need to be brought to life there.
And if your brand has a cause and a movement, and it's trying to accomplish thing and your customers are activists. So what does that say about the people you should be hiring? If they're not totally bought into that, then every single time, the person has not bought into what your thing is about, your cause, opens her mouth, you completely or cut your credibility in the eyes and ears of the customer. It's this idea that all selling all selling, it's the transfer of confidence and the twin engines of confidence or trust and credibility.[00:35:00]
Well, if every time I open my mouth, I undercut my credibility and a start anywhere, finish anywhere, omni-channel multi-channel, multi-day part multitouch thing, right where my brand is brought to life across a gazillion far-flung customer touch points. And the people that I've hired don't get that they don't buy into it, then I'm screwed
Erik Martinez: So let's take that in the context of hiring internally versus hiring an outsourcing an agency for various functions, because I think what you're hitting on is kind of the core problem.
Some of our earlier conversation about dialing the channel and dialing for jobs and whatnot. How do we strike the balance of understanding when the right time is to bring that person in house? Or do we supplement with external people? Whether they're the single guy sitting in their [00:36:00] living room that specializes in just one teeny tiny aspect of what you do or you're hiring an agency that provides every service under the sun, where is that dividing line?
Tim Curtis: To hear, Harry's answer to Erik's question about hiring internally versus outsourcing to external resources, please join us on part two of Hiring Top Tier E-commerce talent with Harry Joiner.