Cascading Leadership - The Show

Adam Gordon: A Startup Founder's Story

August 12, 2022 Jim Season 2 Episode 9
Cascading Leadership - The Show
Adam Gordon: A Startup Founder's Story
Show Notes Transcript

Why are some types of competition unhealthy? 

How is simplicity and focusing on small things critical to startup success? 

How do you find the right type of work that works for who you are as a person? 

How do you answer all those questions and revolutionize how recruiting is done? 

These are the questions we tackle during our conversation with Adam Gordon, Founder of CandidateID and VP at iCIMS. 

Music Credit: Maarten Schellekens - Riviera

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 Adam Gordon: A Startup Founder's Story 

Adam Gordon: A Startup Founder's Story 

[00:00:00] Dr. Jim: welcome to today's episode of cascading leadership. I am your friendly neighborhood, talent strategy nerd, Dr. Jim. And today we have , an action packed episode, and it's a different sort of episode where we are covering a lot of different areas. Some of the things that we are going to uncover in some of the questions that we're gonna answer in this conversation we're gonna understand why certain types of competi.

[00:00:22] Dr. Jim: Ends up being toxic. We're gonna understand what the difference is between an ownership and an employee's mentality. We're also going to learn how you should properly define success. And lastly and, certainly not least we're gonna learn why it's important to do something that no one else is doing.

[00:00:40] Dr. Jim: So those are a lot of heavy topics that we're gonna cover in questions that we're gonna answer and to help us answer those. We have Adam Gordon currently of iSims and also the founder of candidate ID joining us to teach us a whole bunch of stuff. Adam, welcome to the show 

[00:00:56] Adam Gordon: Dr. 

[00:00:56] Adam Gordon: Jim, thank you so much for having me.

[00:00:58] Adam Gordon: It's a real 

[00:00:58] Adam Gordon: pleasure. 

[00:00:58] Dr. Jim: I'm, super excited to [00:01:00] to have you on. And I think before we get into the meat of the discussion tell us a little bit about your story and the highlights of how you got to where you are and then we'll dive into the discussion. 

[00:01:11] Adam Gordon: Yeah, absolutely. I'm from the UK, I'm Scottish.

[00:01:14] Adam Gordon: I live in Glasgow. I'm here with my wife and two kids and a cat. I. Left university or midway through university. I wasn't entirely sure what I wanted to do in my career, but the honest truth is a friend of mine a year older than me had moved into the recruitment industry and he was driving a Mercedes like very quickly and I just went.

[00:01:34] Adam Gordon: Yeah, that looks quite good. I'd quite like to do that. So I went and applied to the company. He was with got myself a job. Didn't know anything about recruitment. Didn't know what it was at all learned some sort of script when it turned up for the i nterview. why but they gave me the job. And after about 18 months what I realized was I wasn't actually all that interested in talking to people about their careers and what they wanted to achieve.

[00:01:57] Adam Gordon: But what I was really interested in was [00:02:00] all the things that went into getting them into that interview with me, what were all the marketing type things, the talent sourcing type things that went into bringing people, like getting people to go from being a stranger to clicking a button, or in that case, actually picking up the phone to me. 

[00:02:14] Adam Gordon: Back then to say, Hey, I'm interested in having a conversation. So all of the, what we call talent engagement or talent attraction type things. That's what I wanted to do with my career. And I've been in that ever since. So I've been in the recruitment world for 23 years in recruitment, like filling jobs in recruitment, marketing, talent sourcing.

[00:02:36] Adam Gordon: And for the last six years in, in recruitment technologies. 

[00:02:39] Dr. Jim: That's some fantastic background. And I think for those folks that have been listening to the show before we have yet another staffing and recruitment professional that is is joining us cuz I'm from that world too.

[00:02:50] Dr. Jim: So I've spent a lot of my time either directly in staffing and recruiting or in staffing and recruiting tech. And, in that space. For me, Understanding why [00:03:00] people join and leave organizations and what that decision making process looks like. And what drives them to that is is right in my nerdy wheelhouse.

[00:03:07] Dr. Jim: So I'll try to keep on track with what we're gonna talk about. You hinted at some things in terms of how you got to where you were. And, I think for those who are not familiar with Adam's story you founded a really unique candidate engagement and candidate capture as what I.

[00:03:22] Dr. Jim: Describe it tool that ended up being acquired by ISIM. So you're a tech startup founder. That's actually exited in, a way. So that in and of itself is a great story, but before all of that happened what was it like when you look at your early informative experiences in terms of how that shaped you and prepared you for the journey that you ended up going on 

[00:03:42] Adam Gordon: I was extremely fortunate as a child. I was born middle class, obviously. Obviously I'm white. I am a man, so I was born with every privilege that somebody could have. I was born in a first world country. My father was a very successful businessman. [00:04:00] He was the CEO of a stock market listed brewery and leisure business.

[00:04:05] Adam Gordon: And so I went to private schools. I went to an extremely posh boarding school in Edinburgh. And I was brought up with every privilege that I could possibly have. The one big benefit of that was growing up with a dad who. Would answer my questions. Let's say, what does this mean? What does that mean? I'd ask him about what he was doing at work, and I'd want to understand the strategy of why you would buy companies or not buy a company, why you would move into new territories, why you would launch new products and all that kind of thing.

[00:04:41] Adam Gordon: And so he gave me a lot of insight into how the brewing and leisure industry worked that didn't really help me prepare in a lot of way for what I actually went into, but it certainly gave me an understanding of that particular world. And that was a massive benefit to me. Learning about from a CEO's vantage [00:05:00] point.

[00:05:00] Adam Gordon: How, do things work? And I, was brought up with, as I say, like every privilege a human could have. How that impacted me was my dad was born in a working class family environment. He was out delivering milk at five o'clock in the morning. That's what they did. They they delivered milk around north air, shore, working class part of Scotland.

[00:05:21] Adam Gordon: And he went on from there and going to quite honestly a pretty rough school. To then becoming the first in the family to go to university, becoming the first in the family to go and move into business, like career in business. And then he went to Harvard CEO of listed company from his start to where he progressed to versus my star, which was pretty affluent.

[00:05:45] Adam Gordon: We had a swimming pool in the garden. The way that impacted me was. If he could achieve what he achieved from where he started, where I started up here I need to be striving for something that's even bigger and better than my dad's. So it put me into a position of like [00:06:00] internal competition with him.

[00:06:02] Adam Gordon: He never knew anything about that. Nobody knew anything about that. I was the only person who knew anything about that, but that meant that I put myself under a vast amount of pressure to be successful.

[00:06:11] Dr. Jim: Thanks for sharing that. And I think in some ways when, you're talking about your background and your experiences and all these advantages that you described people often people will often re kind of resort to saying you've had every advantage.

[00:06:25] Dr. Jim: So life must have been all sunshine and lollipops for you, and that's not necessarily true. You, hinted at this internal competition in your mind between. What you need to accomplish within a certain period of time and what your dad had accomplished relative to where he came from. So how did that show up in, in, your life and in your experiences in some probably less than ideal ways in terms of how you interacted with the world.

[00:06:50] Dr. Jim: We interacted with others. What was the cost of that internal competition that it did drive you, but there was a cost to that. 

[00:06:57] Adam Gordon: Even from an early age, I felt a lot of pressure. [00:07:00] And I was sent to boarding school when I was 11 years old. So I took that particularly badly.

[00:07:05] Adam Gordon: It felt like a and it's only as an adult now with my own kids that I realized that how it felt was that was a rejection. That was a massive rejection from my like family unit. It wasn't meant as that. And, I didn't really contextualize that in my mind. It wasn't like conscious. To me as an 11 year old.

[00:07:20] Adam Gordon: That's what that was. But actually now as an adult, I realized that is how it fell. And I didn't thrive. I didn't thrive because of that. I thrived in sport. That was really it. And I, liked meeting new people and I had new friends, whatever, but. Not being with my family was, actually really damaging for me.

[00:07:38] Adam Gordon: And one of the reasons for that was, and again, it's only as an adult, you realize I've got a lot of O C D, and I think I've probably got ADHD as well, but I've, I haven't had that diagnosed but I've certainly got a lot of O C D and these are all these are things that make you act in particular way, which again, you can't context, you don't know, you don't understand this.

[00:07:57] Adam Gordon: It's not conscious these, things, these like [00:08:00] mental diversities. Or not something that really anybody knew about in the like eighties and nineties at all. I was just a troublemaker. I was just disruptive. I got accolades later in my career for being disruptive. But as a kid, I was told, no, you're in a big trouble.

[00:08:15] Adam Gordon: Cause you're disruptive. You go stand at the back of the class, you leave the class. And then anyway, I ended up misbehaving too much and got expelled from that school. So yet another rejections. So kind of irony. The irony being, I felt rejected by my family unit. And then the rejection being I I, the iron only being, I felt rejected by the school, but at least I was back with my mom.

[00:08:35] Adam Gordon: Who my mom and dad had separated during that period. So another rejection my dad actually he left while I was at boarding school. So when I eventually left university and went into the working world, what I tried to do was emulate my father's career.

[00:08:47] Adam Gordon: It was working in large corporates and striving to get ahead. But because I was quite disruptive, I didn't fit that mold of somebody who does the training follows the [00:09:00] process. I was always looking for shortcuts, different ways of doing things, trying to hack the system. And so I'd get into trouble for that as well.

[00:09:07] Adam Gordon: Even when I was in, in the working environment I, find a lot of things in the working environment, really pedestrian probably because of combination of NeuroD diversities. I've got, it's just like now that's not a good way of doing it. And I would tell people, I don't think that's a good way of doing it.

[00:09:20] Adam Gordon: They were like, it's worked for me for the last 10 years. So you do it my way and that type of thing. But it, it took until I was. Probably about 30, 30, 1 32 before I realized working for other people and trying to emulate my father's career. I worked for some big employers. I spent three years at PWC, for example.

[00:09:40] Adam Gordon: But trying to be that kind of career professional, it took till I was in my early thirties before I realized this probably isn't the right way to get ahead for you. So it, it was 12 years of being or 10 years of being a fish outta water, working for other. And then as soon as I started working for myself with nobody to answer to, with having the ability to [00:10:00] generate every bit of success was just coming straight to me and having the kind of drive to go and succeed as an independent worker as a a solopreneur to begin with that was a completely different thing.

[00:10:12] Adam Gordon: Cuz there was no rules. And I could change the way that things happened. And people started buying it in the first week. People were buying what I was offering, and it was ways of doing things that I'd been trying to tell companies I worked for, they should be doing for the last couple of years.

[00:10:26] Dr. Jim: There is a ton to unpack here and I wrote four sets of notes here on things that I needed to follow up on. But I think no, that's it's great. Your, story about being sent off to boarding school and how that impacted you. I had the same experience when I was in India, except our, you.

[00:10:41] Dr. Jim: Boarding schools were more like prison camps than they were boarding schools. We had old school nuns that would beat you in the hand if if you were using the wrong hand to write with. So that sort of stuff. Yeah. 

[00:10:50] Adam Gordon: Like mine wasn't too dissimilar by the way. It wasn't. 

[00:10:52] Dr. Jim: Oh, really? 

[00:10:53] Adam Gordon: But it wasn't nuns, but it was not.

[00:10:55] Adam Gordon: It was not like a hotel holiday camp type of thing, which a lot of people think [00:11:00] absolutely not. It was nothing 

[00:11:00] Adam Gordon: like that. 

[00:11:01] Dr. Jim: So what, was particularly interesting about one of the things that you mentioned is that you've, always felt, this is how I translated it. You felt like a ball in a pinball machine when you're in these large organizations, because you're, bouncing around and you're like This, doesn't work the way that I think it can work.

[00:11:19] Dr. Jim: It doesn't work as efficiently as it, as I think it can work. And I think that's relatable to a lot of people. It's, part of the reason why, when I look at my professional journey, I've I've always struggled in hugely large organizations and that's why I prefer high growth or startup because you the, focus is on how quickly can you make impact.

[00:11:37] Dr. Jim: Yeah. Versus how tightly are you is staying within process. So that's a, that's an interesting component. The, big thing that I'm curious about now, you mentioned it wasn't up until you were in your thirties, that you realized that this competition with your dad wasn't healthy some of the some of the mindset issues that you dealt with wasn't wasn't appropriate or, actually was [00:12:00] damaging when you're thinking about the topic.

[00:12:02] Dr. Jim: How to properly align that competitive nature. What advice would you have when you're thinking about or advising people of, how do you get away from having toxic competitiveness and have it be channeled in a way that's productive? 

[00:12:17] Adam Gordon: So one of the things that I suffered from was as somebody who was given every privilege was what I thought was life would unfold for me, without me having to do anything about it. It would be handed to me on a silver platter. And so I didn't do nearly enough research into what different careers are all about. What's the benefits of working for a big company or a small company. What's the benefits of working in different industries? What's the different benefits of working in different professions. As I mentioned, I made my first career decision on the basis that my friend had was driving a Mercedes. That was it.

[00:12:51] Adam Gordon: That's pathetic. That's a really useless first stage career decision. So I had done very little research to, what [00:13:00] is, what am I actually going to thrive at? What am I gonna enjoy? And I guess today you've got an internet that can tell you the answer to pretty much everything.

[00:13:09] Adam Gordon: So my advice for anybody, if you don't yet know what you wanna be doing, especially for young people who, are learning is go and find out about everything, go and take every internship. There is out there. Try ask people, ask every adult, you meet why they do what they do, and what's good about it. And what's not good about it.

[00:13:25] Adam Gordon: There's so much more information today. The world's much more transparent. And back then there was very limited information that you could just access at your fingertips. But what information I could have got, I didn't put the effort into going and accessing it. Because I, just thought things will just work out for me.

[00:13:41] Adam Gordon: No. I've been given every privilege and therefore things will just keep working out. They don't, they just don't. 

[00:13:47] Dr. Jim: What you're describing ties into one of the other threads of conversation that we're gonna have, and that's that's related to mindset do you have an employee mindset or do you have an ownership mindset and that's [00:14:00] particularly important to tie in because you really you mentioned earlier, I didn't really feel a level of satisfaction until I started actually doing stuff for myself.

[00:14:10] Dr. Jim: And what's interesting about that is I'm telling. Everybody that I can possibly meet is that regardless of where you are in your career, you should be working on leveraging your full skillset to create multiple revenue streams. Think as if you're a business owner that has a number of products, your job as an employee could be one product line that drives revenue, but what are all the other skills that you've accumulated and how can you monetize that to create independent product streams and revenue streams for yourself

[00:14:41] Dr. Jim: so you're not beholden to any one thing. And that ties into the employee versus ownership mentality. And what's interesting is that you had a view of what an owner's mindset would look like from your dad. So as a CEO, like he was a senior level leader and you got some insight there when you spun off on your own.

[00:14:59] Dr. Jim: [00:15:00] How did that accelerate your ability to generate results from, the organization that you've built. 

[00:15:07] Adam Gordon: There's a few really important aspects to this. The fir the first is, again, you go and access information on the internet.

[00:15:12] Adam Gordon: That's gonna tell you what your strengths are. When I was leaving university. There, there was nothing you couldn't really do that you'd have had to have paid a psychologist, a lot of money to go and tell you about yourself today. There's loads of self-help type things on the internet. That'll help you understand what is it I'm not good at what is I'm not good at.

[00:15:29] Adam Gordon: And that will then help to inform you if you should be the sort of person who is gonna thrive with a lot of other 

[00:15:36] Adam Gordon: people around you and a lot of support around you. 

[00:15:39] Adam Gordon: And if you've got the right type of patience to work in that big corporate environment. and then there's the other types of people in the middle who would be the kind of people who they're not necessarily got the creativity or appetite for risk to start something, but they're definitely gonna thrive better where they've got [00:16:00] responsibility, but they've got the freedom.

[00:16:01] Adam Gordon: To go and choose how they do that job. So some people will thrive best with a lot of scaffolding around them. Other people are gonna thrive best where they've got much less scaffolding, but they're not necessarily the types of people that are gonna go and start something and have that appetite for risk.

[00:16:17] Adam Gordon: And then there's the people like me who. Yeah. Once I went from working for other companies to, I worked the two years before I started my own business, I worked for a much more entrepreneurial startup type of business with an entrepreneurial CEO who was coming up with new ideas regularly. And he'd take me into his office and go, I'm thinking about this.

[00:16:37] Adam Gordon: What do you reckon? And I, used, when I first joined him, I used to think, are you crazy? You can't just go and do. And then within a year of me seeing him doing, just like having the idea, telling me about it, making it happen within a couple of weeks and I'd watch this and go, wow. And then I went actually, do you know?

[00:16:53] Adam Gordon: He's absolutely right. And I could probably do that as well. So there was a learning from working with different people. That's how I, that's how it took me till I [00:17:00] was 32 before I decided to go and start my own thing. But the, kind of the prep work of understanding yourself was really important.

[00:17:07] Adam Gordon: And I didn't understand anything about myself until long after I'd started my own business, but having working for myself on day one was just me. And by day 30, I had one person working with me. So we doubled the team within one day. By the end of the first year, we were about five people. So it wasn't huge.

[00:17:26] Adam Gordon: But what I was doing was bringing people in who had all the skills that I didn't have. And in fact, that first person who came and worked with me at the beginning still works with me today. She's we are a team, her and I are a unit like 13 years later, we still work together and we still she, can do a lot of things.

[00:17:42] Adam Gordon: I can't and vice versa. And so we, work really well together, but finding people who yeah. Can fill in for, I, I don't have all the skills. There's loads of things I'm terrible at. And again, it's taken a long time to understand what I'm really good at and what I'm really, not good at. And I'm not good at business as usual [00:18:00] type stuff at all.

[00:18:01] Adam Gordon: I'm good at the new idea, let's move things forward. How do we all that progression stuff. And if this week looks like last week, we haven't moved fast enough. 

[00:18:10] Dr. Jim: There's a couple of key takeaways out of just that conversation.

[00:18:13] Dr. Jim: And, people, I don't know, the broader business world I still think is, stuck in some odd beliefs. One of which is that you as an individual should be well rounded across any number of areas. There's not only this emphasis of playing towards restraints, but also getting your, gaps up to a level of competence.

[00:18:34] Dr. Jim: And I struggle with that thought because I'm more aligned with kind of what you just described you like, as you're navigating through your career, this is how I took what you just said as you're navigating through your career, you should be experimental in trying to figure out what is it that you like, what are you good at?

[00:18:49] Dr. Jim: And then how can I actually leverage this to advance to whatever objective that I want to advance to? So that was one, and I think that's a key, takeaway. The other part that is [00:19:00] important is then really be introspective about who you are and how all of that shows up in the world, and then find people around you that show up the gaps that you have, because it's not realistic for you to be.

[00:19:11] Dr. Jim: Good at everything, be great at the things that you're great at and then find people around. You surround yourself with people that are just as good, but at, just as good in the areas that you have gaps. And that seems like a, recipe for success. Am I understanding what you just described properly?

[00:19:29] Adam Gordon: Yeah. I'd say that's a great summary of what I've, what I'm talking about. There's two there are two additional things about this. Actually. One is, if I look back on, if I look back on I, suffered from low self-esteem, like really badly. I never suffered from a lack of confidence, but if I think about my self-esteem, my self-esteem was really bad for a long time, because I was in the wrong environment.

[00:19:51] Adam Gordon: Boarding school was the wrong environment for me. Absolutely. The wrong environment. I felt completely outta place. And internally, I probably thought what's wrong with me. Why, is [00:20:00] this why, is this wrong for me? Why am I not like emotionally thriving in this? And then working for other people for 10 years, again, completely wrong for me.

[00:20:10] Adam Gordon: And so that sense of why am I not achieving as fast as I should be to catch up and overtake my dad, right? The wrong type of competition. And what that generated was look, you're. Because I was because, working for other people was not my optimal place and I wasn't thriving as fast as I could.

[00:20:27] Adam Gordon: I continued to suffer from that low self-esteem, but the self-esteem started to appear at the point that I began working for myself and started going out and generating I'm not bad at sales. So I was like going live in Glasgow. I would fly down to London every week, go and see some companies bring back some business.

[00:20:44] Adam Gordon: Literally that's what I would do. I would go out hunting and I was a good hunter. And so when, I worked out, when I worked that out and I was benefiting from I was doing it myself, yes. I had a team around me, but in terms of building a business, I was building a business myself. And so [00:21:00] you know, the self esteem, bits bit something else, which is, which was in there.

[00:21:03] Adam Gordon: The, one other thing I wanted to say about this is the concept of compound interest, but compound interest around like your brand. Compound interest around, like there there is a, reason why I have never gone out of the kind of talent recruitment space. And that's because I built up a network there.

[00:21:23] Adam Gordon: I built up a network there who the first five years, nobody knew who I was the second five years. People kind of start to know who I was the third, five years. People started to know who I was and respect what I was doing. And like now, today I could go out and build. I could go out and look at recruitment and go there's 20 different things that need fixed.

[00:21:40] Adam Gordon: I could build a business in any of those 20 things. And I think it would be successful. Not because I, anything special, but because I have stuck to this particular industry, I could have done it in a in, other industries as well, but that's where I started. And I am really benefiting from having been into one.

[00:21:58] Adam Gordon: Because I'm reasonably [00:22:00] well known and I've spent all my time building up a 

[00:22:02] Adam Gordon: reputation in this. 

[00:22:03] Dr. Jim: And there's, another great lesson in that too. One of the things that I that, I talk fairly regularly, I meaning I'm a gen exert. So for all intents and purposes I'm, borderline old and I'm teaching one of the things that I talked to.

[00:22:18] Dr. Jim: All of the, people that report into me and anybody that I get a chance to talk to is your number one priority as a professional of any sort should be establishing, who are you as a brand because that's, what's portable. What do you want to be known for and do that early? And you do that early by figuring out what you like and what you don't like, and then really zoning in on the areas that you like and building expertise in that space.

[00:22:44] Dr. Jim: That's, how you B build a portable business and you might go from company to company and that's fine, but you're still you. And you're known for a particular set of things. And that's, absolutely critical when you're thinking about your. Your individual career arc with an owner's [00:23:00] mentality versus an employee mentality.

[00:23:01] Dr. Jim: You mentioned early that your, main or your first career decision was based off of the car, that your friend, you saw your friend drive, and then you started. Your own business. And that probably led to some differ differing definitions of what success looks like.

[00:23:18] Dr. Jim: So initially you probably were like if I can get that Mercedes faster than this guy, then I'm successful. And you, started up your own business. And that probably shifted. So when we think success, what did you learn from that transition? Like how did your definition of success? Change as you got older and got more experienced.

[00:23:37] Dr. Jim: And what advice or learnings can you impart for people that are that, that are going through their own career arcs in terms of, Hey, what are the real criteria that you should define success by? 

[00:23:48] Adam Gordon: I should say that the only time I've ever made a career decision based on like material things, How much money will I earn was at the very beginning, after three years, working for a staffing [00:24:00] agency business, I moved into a recruitment marketing agency, an international recruitment marketing agency, cuz that was the bit I was most excited about was the, talent attraction bit.

[00:24:09] Adam Gordon: I took a pretty considerable drop in comp to go and join that business. But I did it because I knew. I was gonna get much more experience in doing what I really wanted to focus on. And then there, there was no there was no other career moves I ever made, which were driven by earning like money.

[00:24:30] Adam Gordon: So it was all about learn, And then when I turned 45 years ago and 45, when I turned 40. That was the point where I went, the learning's done. You've been working for 18 years. Now, half of that time for other people, half of that time for yourself you, can continue to learn. Absolutely.

[00:24:49] Adam Gordon: But you've learned enough to really put your foot down now and build something that's not just paying you to live is something that is going to be very valuable. [00:25:00] And that's when we started to go right. Seed of a technology business that we have here, we need to start going and raising investment externally.

[00:25:09] Adam Gordon: We need to start really in investing in building something that's that's gonna be really valuable. So it was probably round about the time that we started customers started saying, yes, I will sign up for your technology and I will pay $50,000 a year. To license, this that I got the dopamine hit every time somebody said yes.

[00:25:34] Adam Gordon: And that was a really great driving force. And then when we started getting companies, coming to us and saying, what you're doing is really unique and it looks really cool and it would add value to our organization. We'd like to buy your company. I was going, wow. Okay. This is validation.

[00:25:52] Adam Gordon: That is, this is validation. It's not just me thinking we've done something that's cool and fun and is new and different. This is something [00:26:00] that much bigger businesses agree is on the right track. And then when we sold our company, that was the point where I instantly like that day immediately the weight on my shoulders of the competition with my father 

[00:26:13] Adam Gordon: disappeared, straight away that day I'd achieved something that I felt proud enough to be able to say the platform that I had, the higher platform I had in life on day one compared to my father. I've got to a point where, and it wasn't about beating him that wasn't it. It was just about, yeah, I'm satisfied.

[00:26:32] Adam Gordon: I'm satisfied with what I've achieve. 

[00:26:33] Dr. Jim: What's interesting to me in hearing that is the transitions that you went through, but those transitions were rooted in some sort of failure learning cycle.

[00:26:43] Dr. Jim: And some sort of desire in terms of. What can we do to impact this thing that I see as a problem? And that's that, that's an interesting sort of perspective. When you're thinking about driving your own career, what should you be focused on? Because it [00:27:00] I think from early on in our conversation, he said, you, you never really quite felt comfortable in certain spaces or in spaces in general.

[00:27:07] Dr. Jim: And. I'm, always telling people, Hey, you should be perpetually seeking out instances that make you uncomfortable, because that is where the growth comes in. Yeah. So because and, the flip side is what happens when you do feel comfortable. You stop seeing the world as what it could be and just kind.

[00:27:26] Dr. Jim: Coast through as what it is. So from a mindset perspective that we're talking through, these are all important things in terms of how you define success, how you make yourself deliberately or unconsciously uncomfortable, because that's where the growth growth happens. One of the other things that's interesting about what you, when you talk through that journey to where candidate ID got acquired is.

[00:27:47] Dr. Jim: You, you described a scenario where you had other companies and other people coming to you and saying, Hey, what you're doing is really something unique. There's an important business lesson there. So if, anybody is looking at launching [00:28:00] a business, launching a startup, why is that a critical element of that startup decision making process, that launch process?

[00:28:08] Dr. Jim: Why is that important? 

[00:28:09] Adam Gordon: Pretty much every one of us in like the Western world in the first world, we are experiencing something that is suboptimal, whether it would be the way that we order food in that restaurant or the way that we go about leasing a vehicle or the way that we go about applying for a job.

[00:28:27] Adam Gordon: We're we always see something. We just. See, why is that such a bad experience to do that? Whether we, some of us may not consciously go, why is this such a bad experience? They just is maybe subconscious. This is a bad experience, but my advice would be to everybody, try and bring that to the forefront of your mind, try and open your eyes as you're going around, looking at how you live your life and how you experience services and products and systems that you're interacting with.

[00:28:53] Adam Gordon: And. Things that are bad experiences have probably got a solution. And it's very likely that solution is not [00:29:00] something that anybody else is working on. I remember when I first, we, when we first started trying to build a technology business, I sent a tweet to a very famous Silicon valley investor called Chama Pia.

[00:29:13] Adam Gordon: And I said, What is the best way to scale a tech business without bigger alerting the bigger comp competition. And he said, incumbents are incapable of understanding what it takes to fix small problems. Get on with it, build iterate and. And what he was saying, there was, don't even worry about big companies.

[00:29:35] Adam Gordon: They're not gonna be interested in what you're doing. They're not gonna be agile enough to do what you're doing and they're not gonna, they're just not gonna do it. They're gonna be focused on other, things. And he was absolutely right. So the idea that we had for candid ID, my wife said to me, she knows all about marketing automation technologies.

[00:29:52] Adam Gordon: And she said to me, several years ago, you better move this fast cuz everyone else is gonna be doing it. I said, I don't think they will. And there's still not. [00:30:00] Yeah. ISEMS is the only company with a marketing automation, technology and talent acquisition. Because we built it and partnered with them.

[00:30:07] Adam Gordon: They, acquired our company and it's a brilliant partnership and they are a tremendous business and I'm really delighted to be part of the organization. But I was right. No, or Chama was right. Nobody was gonna do it and they didn't do it. So look out for things that are. Suboptimal and then work out.

[00:30:24] Adam Gordon: Could I do something about. 

[00:30:26] Adam Gordon: That's and that's, a great run through because there's a couple of different cultural implications on that too. So one there's a Japanese theme or thread to that. So like Japanese philosophy is Hey, focus on executing really with high levels of precision across small things.

[00:30:44] Adam Gordon: And then the big things become really, well put together and executed. How do I stay out of the radar of large companies? Focus on executing really small things really well or really differently. And that has its own momentum in terms of building your own excellence.

[00:30:57] Adam Gordon: So that's, an important call out. [00:31:00] But the other thing that struck me to your point about what Canada ID does and, this isn't an infomercial on the product, but what caught my attention. I'm on the sales side with any number of things and we're always talking about intent.

[00:31:13] Adam Gordon: How do we leverage buyer intent to prompt our behavior in terms of our outreach? And that's essentially what candidate ID did in terms of as a recruiter, how do I know? Most of recruit. Is raised in a world where, Hey, you want better results. You better call and email more. And that's a backwards sort of thinking the idea.

[00:31:34] Adam Gordon: The idea is how do I find the right prospect in the right time that wants to do business with me and how can I leverage intent data to do it? And that's exactly what caught my attention about candidate ID. I was like, wow, I've never seen anything like this because when I was recruiting, if I had. I'm and Java roles and looking for candidates and I have to deliver for the client.

[00:31:56] Adam Gordon: And for me to find the right candidate, I have to call a hundred people. What [00:32:00] if I had intent data in front of me that said, oh these five candidates that are looking at your postings are most likely. To be interested in talking to you and applying for this role, you better call them first before the other 95.

[00:32:13] Adam Gordon: That's brilliant. I, haven't seen anything else like it. And and it makes sense why you were able to, scale and grow it. 

[00:32:19] Dr. Jim: So Adam, I know that we're trying to do sort of the cliff notes version of your entire life, and that's tough to do, but we covered a lot of ground here, but I, would be remiss if I didn't bring this up.

[00:32:30] Dr. Jim: So throughout. This entire story arc you, mentioned one of the things that you discovered early on was that you don't do well in large companies. So that's why you actually spun off and started your own thing. And that took off and you learned a lot of stuff. And now you got acquired by a large company.

[00:32:48] Dr. Jim: So what's changed. 

[00:32:50] Adam Gordon: Great really great question, cuz it might seem a bit ironic, but I work for a large organization there. The, there's two really big differences. The first is. When I was working for other [00:33:00] organizations like I was an early stage employee up to a manager level. I was never somebody that had any authority to make changes, particularly or influence the way the organization was doing things.

[00:33:12] Adam Gordon: That entirely changed when I had, when I quit to go and start my own thing and then had white space everywhere that was totally different. The, big difference today is I'm not on the senior leadership team of is, but I'm one level below that I report to a board member and I have the status and authority within the organization to really impact on how even as a larger business with hundreds of millions of revenue on how it goes about doing things.

[00:33:43] Adam Gordon: so it's not the, it's not the startup business that I'm used to, but at the same time, it's one where I'm in a position that I can make change and I can influence change, which I never had before working for other large organizations. But then the second thing is [00:34:00] IIMS is acquired my organization because their vision of how recruitment should work 

[00:34:04] Adam Gordon: and how the technology should should exist to enable that is entirely aligned with mine. Our mission is completely indistinguishable. And the way I see it is I've, achieved, I've got to one step of the way to the top of Everest. And once we've taken this type of technology mainstream within recruitment, We'll be at the top of Everest and we'll have done it together.

[00:34:28] Adam Gordon: So as long as our mission continues to be aligned I'm gonna really enjoy this. So this is just the next part of the journey for me. 

[00:34:35] Dr. Jim: Not to put like a bow on it, I think the one area where it's been consistent throughout your career arc, it's about the freedom to make an impact.

[00:34:43] Dr. Jim: It, will, it wasn't the size of the organization that you were necessarily Fighting against, it was the lack of opportunity to make an impact. And that's really, what's what's been consistent throughout your career. And that's why this is different. So that's, a great sort of arc that you walked us through.

[00:34:59] Dr. Jim: Before we sign [00:35:00] off, I, I wanna make sure that people are aware or know where to find you. So what's the best way to to, get in touch with the Adam 

[00:35:06] Adam Gordon: easy to find on LinkedIn, if you just look up Adam Gordon iSims. I'm also on Twitter, Adam, underscore, sorry about this, Adam underscore w underscore Gordon.

[00:35:17] Adam Gordon: And if you wanna just send me a one to one I'm at Adam dot Gordon And very happy to 

[00:35:22] Adam Gordon: talk. 

[00:35:23] Dr. Jim: Adam, thank you so much for joining us on cascading leadership. We learned a ton and there's probably like 20 different takeaways that I can I can clip out on here. Super excited to get this get this show out and looking forward to seeing what sort of things that you will be accomplishing during your time now at iSims for those of you listen, When this episode comes out, it will be available on all your favorite podcast platforms.

[00:35:48] Dr. Jim: We will be on YouTube. We're on TikTok we're primary channels, LinkedIn. So you can find us at all those places and hope hope you share this out with with your friends and leave us reviews on what [00:36:00] what you liked about it. Adam. Thanks for joining us. 

[00:36:02] Adam Gordon: Thanks so much. It's been a real privilege.