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JobBoardGeek Podcast: A strangely revealing Q&A with Jeff and Steven!

JobBoardGeek PodcastIn this episode of JobBoardGeek, host Jeff Dickey-Chasins asks 3 discerning questions of co-host Steven Rothberg of College Recruiter.  In return, Steven asks 3 amazing questions of Jeff. They talk of visionaries needing glasses, whether a JobBoardDoctor looks good in a white coat, and contemplate the wisdom of a Blackhawks jersey at a job board trade show. It also becomes obvious that Steven has a fixation on penance. Jeff says: ‘Raise your prices!’. Lawyers and Lawrence, Kansas are also discussed.

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Transcript:

0:00:00.9 Jeff Dickey-Chasins: Hello everyone, and welcome to this episode of JobBoardGeek, the podcast about the business of connecting candidates and employers. My name is Jeff Dickey-Chasins, I’m the job board doctor. I am your host, and here with me today, I have my friend and co-host, Stephen Rothberg of College Recruiter. Hey, Steven, how are things?

0:00:21.8 Steven Rothberg: Good. You didn’t call me the erudite or the irresistible or the irresponsible or something like that this week it’s… I’m not sure if I’m in the right place.

0:00:32.3 JEFF DICKEY-CHASINS: Well, honestly, I did find some words that I thought about using them and I thought, no. I’m gonna throw him off his normal pace, I’m just not gonna use them. I’ll save them for some time when he’s not expecting it.

0:00:45.8 STEVEN ROTHBERG: That and the fact that you wanted to keep the G rating.

0:00:48.4 JEFF DICKEY-CHASINS: That’s right, that’s right. So folks, today we’re gonna do something a little bit different, I don’t know why, but we are. We are not going to have a guest on the show, but instead, Steven and I are going to be asking each other questions about ourselves, our backgrounds, our businesses, and various and sundry things that we have each picked up about each other, just so that you can get to know us a little bit better and hopefully have a chuckle or recoil in horror, depending on what your attitude is about our response. Steven, I’m gonna start out with my question first. On everything I’ve ever seen that you put out about yourself on LinkedIn on College Recruiter, etcetera, etcetera, you refer to yourself as a visionary for College Recruiter. So my question is, do visionaries ever need glasses?

0:01:34.0 STEVEN ROTHBERG: Visionaries need glasses, and I also frequently need a white cane. So the visionary comes from… We manage our company using what’s called the Entrepreneurs Operating System, EOS. Basically, the visionary in the company is the one who sets the direction, creates the mess, as our employees might call it, and then they get to clean it up. In a large organization, the closest equivalent would be like a chairman. They’re not tasked with doing anything really on a day-to-day basis, but they do more of that visionary, they’ve got their heads up, they’re looking at the industry, they’re trying to see where the industry, where their competitors are going and then communicating to the employees, vendors, customers, etcetera, of their company, where their business needs to go.

0:02:26.0 STEVEN ROTHBERG: And so a lot of my role is to look around corners and to try to see what’s coming. For example, we’re investing heavily on what we call international postings, postings outside of the US, and we’re signing up a lot of customers that are sending us job feeds or we’re sending them job feeds. And I’m getting into all the fun stuff of what if a job is in the UK, but the customer is paying us in US dollars and the CPC is in pound sterling? How do we handle that? What if the job’s in Australia and it’s Australian dollars, and the CPC is in Australian dollars, but maybe we don’t have much traffic in Australia, so I’m trying to get us ready for next year a lot of times. And every once in a while, Jeff, I think every once in a while, I think I made the right decisions. You’ve done consulting work for us, you’ve helped us dig ourselves out of some holes, and I would… It would be fair to say that I create a lot of those holes.

[laughter]

0:03:27.4 JEFF DICKEY-CHASINS: I would say that you… Yeah. I’m not gonna answer that question.

0:03:31.9 STEVEN ROTHBERG: He wants more consulting business. Okay, so I’ve got a question for you. You call yourself the job board doctor, is that because you look smashing in a white lab coat or because you aspire to interact with your clients like the dentist did in Little Shop of Horrors?

0:03:48.8 JEFF DICKEY-CHASINS: Well, I don’t look good in a white coat, and I can tell you that because I have actually dressed up as a doctor because I’m a doctor’s son, actually. My dad was a real doctor. Thank God he died before job board doctor came along because he would have been horrified with what I’m doing, but probably the second analogy of The Little Shop of Horrors is more accurate. I think several of my clients would say, “Yes, it felt like you were doing bad things to me when we were working together,” except it’s like the kind of bad thing that turns into a good thing, I’d like to think. Most of my clients come back. Honestly, that’s where most of my business comes from is clients that have hired me and then they keep hiring me. Yeah, I remember I came up with the idea for the consulting business long before I came up with the name, and the name was actually spurred by a conversation with someone who will remain nameless, because he probably doesn’t want anyone to know that I talk to him or vice versa. And I was saying, “This is my idea. I’m gonna be working with job boards. I get in and get my hands dirty and help people and have a very wide background in all sorts of things.” And he said…

0:04:56.7 JEFF DICKEY-CHASINS: He looked at me and he said, “Yep, there’s a lot of sick puppies out there that need help. They need a doctor.” And I’m like, “Oh, job board doctor.” And in fact, I will never forget, probably the second or third year I was going to the conferences, and I walk into a room and this guy came up and he said, “It’s the doctor. It’s the doctor,” and started yelling at the top of his lungs. So it’s an identifiable name. Let’s put it that way.

0:05:26.9 STEVEN ROTHBERG: So job board veterinarian just didn’t roll off the tongue as well, if it was sick puppies.

0:05:33.5 JEFF DICKEY-CHASINS: Yeah, not really, no, no, no. And also, I didn’t want people to think I was hurting cats, which probably is more a visionary thing than a doctor thing. Steven, this is definitely outside of my scope of expertise, ’cause I’m not really a sports guy, I listen to Chad and Cheese and I just flip past all of their talk about sports, but what is the relationship, if any, between this team called the Black Hawks, I believe, or maybe they’re the hawk blacks, I’m not sure, and college recruiter or between job boards and hockey.

0:06:08.1 STEVEN ROTHBERG: Oh, okay, this is painful. This is really painful. One of my best friends is Andy Hibel, who’s one of the owners of HigherEdJobs. It’s a job board for colleges and universities that are looking to hire staff and faculty. Andy has the misfortune of living in Chicago. I’m sorry, he lives in Chicago. And I love Chicago, it’s one of those great global cities. It’s just alive, but I’m not a huge Chicago sports fan. And at one of the early TAtech conferences, the trade association for the job board industry, it might have even been the IAEWS back then. Andy and I had a wager about whether the NHL team in Minneapolis, where I live, the Minnesota Wild would beat his favorite team, The Chicago Black Hawks, in the Stanley Cup playoffs. And anybody who knows anything about hockey is questioning my sanity for entering into any kind of a bet like that, regardless of odds. And the loser needed to wear the jersey of the other team for the entire day at the TAtech conference. So there are one or two photos of me not so proudly walking around in a Chicago Black Hawks jersey at the conference. The good news is, is that I think I’ve got a better chance of going to heaven because of wearing that jersey, because it’s clearly penance for something awful that I did in my life.

0:07:41.7 JEFF DICKEY-CHASINS: Yeah, well, that makes me wanna go back into the way back machine and see if I can come up with those pictures again. And I don’t know if you’ve ever played with that, but it’s a lot of fun.

0:07:54.0 STEVEN ROTHBERG: For those of us who were using the internet in the ’90s and couldn’t remember dial up, we can also remember that websites had to be very, very small in terms of file size. It’s like everything was basically text, you could have a background color, but you had to keep those logos or graphics really, really small. Just a lot of the technology didn’t even exist then, it was before flash, it was before… People weren’t doing movies, and Mark Cuban figured out how to stream videos online and made billions of dollars, and so… It was a different area. Anybody who really wants to feel really, really bad about themselves, just should use the way back machine and go back and see some of the stuff they were involved in. If you’re feeling too confident about your abilities, just look at the work that you did 20 years ago. So I have a question for you. You’ve consulted with College Recruiter number of times over the past decade or so, projects ranging from helping us to hire and train employees to showing us how to roll out a price increase in a way that brought in a massive amount of revenue within a few weeks. I’ve heard that you’ve done similar work for other job boards, would it be fair to say that your desire to work with job boards is penance for a lot of serious sins in either this or a previous lifetime?

[laughter]

0:09:14.5 JEFF DICKEY-CHASINS: You’re really captivated by this idea of penance, aren’t you?

0:09:18.4 STEVEN ROTHBERG: It seems to be recurring theme.

0:09:20.3 JEFF DICKEY-CHASINS: Yeah. It’s… And it’s funny that you say that because I have worked with some clients that have a sense of humor, that have said, “It is kind of funny, you’ve really helped us, but sometimes it must be really painful for you when you start with a client because all you do is you say, ‘Raise your prices. Add this product. Do this.'” Any of my clients will tell you that almost the first thing out of my mouth is always, you’re not charging enough, charge more. And they’re like, “That must be very hard for you to have to do that over and over again.” I’m like, “No,” one of the things that I do on the side, which I really like, is I build furniture for fun. I’m very much a builder. And so to me, it’s not really penance or anything, it’s more like an extension of that building aspect where I get to get in there with my client and help them build something that’s gonna make them more money and it’s gonna be something that’s better for candidates and better for employers, because I do feel like the one higher purpose of my business is to make the world better for candidates, because there are just… I’ve been a candidate, I’ve had to use some of these sites and some of them really suck, and every time I can help a client make more money and do better jobs for their candidates, that’s a win for me. I like getting my hands dirty. It’s not a penance, except every now and then, and I’m not gonna say anymore on that particular aspect. So Steven, I got a question.

0:10:46.4 STEVEN ROTHBERG: Well, before you do, one memory I have, when you’re talking about raising prices, so we had… Man, this is probably going back six, seven, eight years, we had… If you might recall, an unlimited job posting package and it was like five grand for the year or something like that. And we were meeting with you, and we could see that we had a bit of a cash crunch coming up. And you basically just like in two seconds, it’s like, “Oh okay, here’s what you do. You take that $5000 annual package, and you tell all of your customers, even those who aren’t set to renew for 11 months, that you’re gonna be increasing the price to $7500. And they’ve got 30 days to renew. And if they renew early, you’ll just tack on to the end of their existing package, the new one.” And so they would get grandfathered in at five grand. And rather than selling maybe a handful of those a month, I think we sold like 40, it was just… It was absolutely ridiculous. So it definitely did seem that when we raised the price of that package, that our customers valued it more, and if you charge too little or nothing at all, then that’s kind of the value that people put on whatever you’re gonna charge.

0:12:00.5 STEVEN ROTHBERG: Well, cool, so I have a third question for you, and for the people who are enjoying the intro and what’s it called, the outro music, the music at the beginning and at the end, this probably won’t be a huge surprise to them. But you’ve told me that you grew up in Texas, and that you moved around the country a number of times, most recently to where you live now in Grinnell, Iowa. Would it be accurate to say that your moves were poorly executed attempts to find culture because you’re in a witness protection program or because you realized years before that most people in our industry, that sales, marketing, administrative and other office work could be done just as well remotely in an office instead of having some tyrant of a boss always looking over your shoulder?

[laughter]

0:12:48.9 JEFF DICKEY-CHASINS: That’s a good question, and that implies that I had some forethought as I moved around the country. And it implies that I knew what I was doing, but in fact, my wife and I used to joke about this, we were very non-traditional movers. Most people move because of their career. They get a job somewhere, they move somewhere, or at least until the last two, three years, and we never did once. Every single time we moved, it was because we were tired of living where we were, or we wanted… I remember her saying when we moved to Lawrence, partly it was for my wife’s school, but it was partly because Lawrence is very well-known and was in those days for rock and roll, and had an incredible…

0:13:32.2 STEVEN ROTHBERG: Lawrence, Kansas, right? College town. Supposed to be really nice.

0:13:36.6 JEFF DICKEY-CHASINS: College town. And it had an incredible venue called the bottleneck, which I believe is still around. And everyone that was anyone in rock and roll that was up and coming rolled through there. And between that and the university, I said, “Yeah, let’s move there.” I had no job. And I would say that in general, all this moving around has also made me much more of an earlier adopter to doing remote work, because I’ve been doing remote work since the year 2000. We’re about the same on that in terms of how long we’ve been doing this, because I sorta separated for myself the concept of having to go in to an office or having to be in a certain place to do work from the work itself. And I think for me, it was a positive thing. It’s not for everyone. Someone was saying to me the other day that I’ve consulted with and they’re saying, “My dream exit plan would be to sell my job board and do what you did,” and I’m like, “You’re crazy.” If you really like waking up…

0:14:36.3 STEVEN ROTHBERG: Well, half of that sounds good, the other half maybe not so much.

0:14:39.7 JEFF DICKEY-CHASINS: Right, exactly. Yeah, if you like waking up every month and saying, “Gee, I wonder if I’m gonna make any money or not this month,” then being a consultant is for you. So it’s an interesting… It’s an interesting situation. But Steven, I have one last question for you. Yeah. So people may not know this, but Steven is a lawyer as well as… Yeah, I know.

0:15:04.5 STEVEN ROTHBERG: There’s an audio problem. There was a word in there that clearly wasn’t…

0:15:09.7 JEFF DICKEY-CHASINS: Yeah, actually you can bleep this out if you want, but has being a lawyer made you a better boss or has being a boss made you a better lawyer?

0:15:21.7 STEVEN ROTHBERG: Well, I like to say that I’m a fully recovered lawyer, you know me well enough to know that that’s just nonsense. And any member of my family would say that maybe I’m a little bit recovered, but there’s a whole lot of treatment that I’m still needing to undergo. I actually think that I’m a really bad boss in a sense that I’m not good at managing people and I really don’t like it.

0:15:48.6 JEFF DICKEY-CHASINS: That is a good combo.

0:15:49.8 STEVEN ROTHBERG: Yeah, and it’s like we all have to realize where we’re good at things and bad at things, and I am very much an activator. If I can think of an idea today, then it should already have been executed, today. Let’s move. Let’s get this done. I look at that as both a positive and negative, and I think other people around me as well, it moves us forward. We certainly are not complacent. We embrace change, we’re dynamic, but there’s also the impatience there. Sometimes it’s just hard for me to remember that if it took me two days or two weeks or two months to kind of formulate an idea or a vision of where we wanna go, it’s probably gonna take a lot longer than that to execute it, but I just won’t have the patience. So one of the nice things with about the way that we’ve structured our company is that nobody reports to me. That’s really good for me and it’s really good for them. When there are legal issues, if there’s a contract or something like that, that’s pretty routine, that’ll come to me and I’ll read through that. We’re in the process of hiring somebody right now who signed an employment agreement with their previous employer, and so I could kind of read through that and feel pretty confident that I understood what that person would be allowed to do, not allowed to do, what they’re required to do, etcetera.

0:17:11.2 STEVEN ROTHBERG: I don’t have to send it over to our law firm and pay $400 an hour for that. Also, usually pretty good at realizing that I very quickly get out of my depth. And that if it’s something with the intellectual property or some kind of complicated license of software or something, I’ll have a look at the agreement to make sure that it’s consistent with what I think it should be saying, and then I can send that over to the lawyer and say, “Hey, here’s what we agreed to in a handshake. Here’s what I am seeing in this agreement that might cause me some concern. What do you think?” And every single time they will see a bunch of things that I just didn’t. So what’s the expression, Jeff? It’s like a client that has himself as a lawyer… Or a lawyer who represents himself has a fool for a client. Anybody who’s listening, who might have a law degree and is running a business, I would definitely say that they should have some kind of independent person out there, an attorney, a lawyer, looking over their shoulder, doing contracts, etcetera. I think you get yourself into harm’s way pretty darn quickly.

0:18:24.1 JEFF DICKEY-CHASINS: Yeah, and I said earlier that the most common thing that my clients will say that I tell them is raise your prices. The second most common thing I tell them is I am not a lawyer, because people ask me a lot of questions that get into legal stuff. And I’m like, “I’m not a lawyer, you need to talk to your counsel about this. This is out of my skill set.” I think it’s important for everyone, no matter what your job is, to know where are your expertise and be willing to let those other experts jump in and help you.

0:18:53.5 STEVEN ROTHBERG: Yeah, and for people like me, it’s actually really easy to know where my expertise ends ’cause it’s a pretty short list.

[laughter]

0:19:04.2 JEFF DICKEY-CHASINS: Again, I’m gonna take the fifth on that one. Well, listen, Stephen, it was an interesting conversation. I’m not going to compliment you for being a good guest because that would only continue to fuel your ego.

0:19:19.1 STEVEN ROTHBERG: Oh, don’t do that.

0:19:20.6 JEFF DICKEY-CHASINS: Yeah, no, I don’t wanna do that. But anyway, Steven, if after listening to all this stuff, people actually wanna get in touch with you, how do they do that?

0:19:27.3 STEVEN ROTHBERG: They definitely need a sanity check. So easiest way, shoot me an email, steven@collegerecruiter.com. And my good friend, the doctor, it’s been a pleasure.

0:19:39.7 JEFF DICKEY-CHASINS: Yes, and likewise. Maybe we’ll do it again. Who knows? But anyway, that’s it for today’s episode of JobBoardGeek. Be sure to subscribe to us via Apple, Spotify, whatever you happen to like, we’re probably on it. And if you wanna leave a review that’d be even great. Again, this is Jeff Dickey-Chasins, the job board doctor, you’ve been listening to The only podcast that focuses on the business of connecting candidates and employers. That’s it for now. I’ll see you again soon. Bye.

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