Martin Hauck joins us in studio for StartWell's Gathering Podcast to discuss the current state of hiring - and how his community of 'people people' shares knowledge to survive this tumultuous time for HR professionals.
Currently the Head of Talent at Caseware, Martin has had a decade-plus career in HR, which started when he was recruited to become a recruiter. Initially working in industrial supplies, he made the switch to a technology focus working for companies including Rangle.io and StackAdapt.
Through this, Martin was looking to sound-board ideas and experiences with other HR folks but his organisations didn't have large enough teams to enable this internally - which led to him forming a community of over 2,000 HR professionals on Slack... the People People Group.
Spend time with this conversation - here's the full transcript
Hiring and team building with a focus on communication.
Martin Hauck 0:02
I fundamentally think that the way companies hire right now is just broken in the first place and could use a huge reset and refresh from a blank slate. An interview is just a conversation. And most missed hires come from people being great at conversation and terrible at execution. And so I think it should try before you buy as a much better model. Hey, we're interested in working with you. Let's have a conversation. Yeah, of course, you can't. Everything's about communication. Yeah, if you're on the same page, and why not engage them for like, 10 hours of consulting work over the next two weeks, right? Yes, it's labor intensive, but you're actually going to see what that person delivers, right? And then that is a good process to be like, are they engaged or not? Right? So nothing's perfect. And there's always going to be trade offs if you shake it up. But what I find happens in most companies I've joined is there's instead of there being like a four step process, it's just for first interviews.
Qasim Virjee 1:03
Welcome back to this, I believe, the 16th episode of the start, while podcast called gathering, where we try and kind of peel back the onion on the current state of teams, and, and speak with people who support teams at all different types of organizations. So today, I'm in studio with Martin Hawke, who is at a company called the people people, people people group. Yeah. So we're gonna dig into what that means. But it sounds like, you know, there's some symbiosis in what we're doing with the gathering series and with with the kind of network that you guys have been developing, for sure. So I'm excited to see. Well, so just dig into kind of what you do, who's part of the network and and some of the backstory, maybe we'll start there. So Martin, welcome to the studio.
Career progression in HR and recruitment.
Martin Hauck 1:49
No, thanks for having me. This is the most profesh studio I've been in, um, like, this is one of those like milestone moments in life. Wow, I remember my first business trip, like via airplane, and I just had this like moment on like, the escalator that's flat. I don't know what those are called. Sure. I was just like, oh, man, like, this is another moment. Like, I'm like, Oh, this is this cool, because I've done podcasts, but never this legit.
Qasim Virjee 2:15
Let's both do this man. It's
Martin Hauck 2:16
pat yourself. Yeah. Oh, yeah. Thank you. Thank you for having me.
Qasim Virjee 2:20
It's a pleasure. And honestly, I mean, you know, this is the thing about business, right? Is that those evolutionary steps, at least my experience, you know, in my 30 plus years in business, is that every time you reach one of those milestones, whatever that is, you realize that, you know, for the most part, the distance between them is almost like, not relative. But I don't want to get philosophical. Let's talk about what you do.
Martin Hauck 2:50
All right. Okay. Cool. To clarify, by day, I am the head of talent at CaseWare. Again, CaseWare is a global audit and accounting software, SAS platform, and I lead a team of eight recruiters by night and wait, how
Qasim Virjee 3:07
big is that organization? If
Martin Hauck 3:08
you have 866 100 people, globally, majority of them in Canada. It's been in Canadian organization for 30 plus years. If you're an accountant, or an auditor, you know the name inside and out and you use a tool every day and you put it you put case where as a skill on your resume.
Qasim Virjee 3:29
That's pretty epic, because pretty cool. Yeah.
Martin Hauck 3:33
And by night, yeah, I've got the people people group by early morning and my night and when I'm not being a dad, and when I've got time on the weekends, I'm trying to grow this little thing called the people people.
Qasim Virjee 3:44
Yes. So you are a career professional in HR.
Martin Hauck 3:49
Yes. I've spent the last 10 years in recruitment and prior to that I spent 10 years in sales and management for industrial and construction supplies when I sold nuts and bolts. So it's a literally literally nuts and bolts. Yeah, literally nuts and bolts. Yeah. Point out buildings in the city where I'm like, Yeah, I probably put my hands on those hardware on that fasteners.
Qasim Virjee 4:12
That's epic. What a guess what led you to the whole people people think not like either way. I mean, the mood that people people grew but also working in human
Martin Hauck 4:23
resources. Well, I fell into that. So in the industrial space, I won't go too far back, but basically got recruited to be a recruiter for the industry had spent seven, eight years in, okay, because you knew that industry. Yeah. So it's easier for me to call up an account manager and shoot the shit with them and talk about their day to day versus Oh, I don't know anything about your industry. Why am I going to pick up the phone or respond to your email kind of thing right? And back then, like cold calling candidates was legit is still still a thing that happened. And so I got recruited to be a recruiter and loved it. I didn't know I was going to love it. And then went off, started my own recruiting firm after that, and realized nobody was taking me seriously because I wanted to get tech clients. And I was only doing industrial stuff like Plumbing Companies and whatnot. And one person took a chance on me at a tech company. He's like, we're not going to use your services. It was a sales call that turned into an interview. And I was like, Well, if you let me keep doing my recruitment on the side on, I'm happy to join like, you're not gonna have time for it. But sure, he was right. He was right. So I spent a year with wrangle got into tech, and I had an old Randall i Oh, yeah, wrangle that? Oh, yeah. And I spent about, I think it was nine months. So they taught me how to be a technical recruiter, they taught me how to hire developers. And I started learning about Scrum and Agile, and all that fun stuff. And I did awesome colleagues, Avery Francis, who's built out her own agency, and it's just doing incredible stuff. She's the host of Girlboss podcast right now.
Qasim Virjee 6:03
Is she from Blum? Yeah,
Martin Hauck 6:04
she's from Boone. Okay. We
Qasim Virjee 6:05
had Yeah, we had one of our team members on
Qasim Virjee 6:08
family law. Mr. Hunt. Exactly. Yeah, yeah. Yeah, she was sitting where you're sitting in the hot seat in the hot seat.
Martin Hauck 6:13
No, Emma's, Emma's awesome. Shout out to him. And Avery, and so I got a chance to work with her. And then when I got recruited out of wrangle to the next company, stack it up. Oh, it was sort of a lonely, lonely er, because I didn't have as many colleagues here in Toronto. That's wrong. Yeah. And so I didn't have somebody I could like, turn my chair to and say, Hey, what do you think about this situation, or I've got a candidate that's, you know, ghosting me or I've got a candidate with crazy competitive offer, what would you do? And so at the same time, I was in all these other communities, because I was recruiting people from those communities, because I would keep tabs on who's talking about stuff, and which, which developers are most active in the Turon. JS community, or the design X community. And I was like, There's got to be something for HR, and there wasn't, I put a LinkedIn post up. And 50 people responded, saying, like, Hey, join this, if it was a thing, I kind of dragged my heels a bit and kind of didn't really think anything of it, and then added all 50 people in there some random Slack community with a terrible logo. And six years later, we've got 3300 members, and we've got folks from all over the world in the community, and no idea that it was gonna get to where it is now. So and
Organic community development in HR and recruitment.
Qasim Virjee 7:35
what do you think is that that driver of the kind of organic interest in community development within people, people,
Martin Hauck 7:43
it's, it's very organic, um, I feel very grateful and blessed, because it wouldn't be what it is today, if it wasn't the people in the community driving it. Because if I had to come in and drop articles, and if you're
Qasim Virjee 7:59
pushing that content, like, I mean, this is kind of what we're doing, and also why why this series exists is really to raise stage to the voices of the community. And again, taking that note from start was early days of peer to peer mentorship. So if the stories can be not only compelling from people's experiences, in, you know, this wide world of team support and development, then, you know, I think people can can learn a lot from each other.
Martin Hauck 8:26
Yeah, yeah. I think people want to teach each other. I know, people want to teach each other. There are people out there that like for myself at every company I've ever been, if I find a cool new thing. I'm actually more interested in teaching everybody else about that cool new thing than actually doing my job. Sometimes it's getting ridiculous, right? And there's other people out there in every, in every profession, and those people are the ones like if you get and I think that was kind of why it kind of took off was because we just happen to have a bunch of those folks join the community early on, because they were looking for it in the first place. So yeah, it's it's been pretty organic. We haven't really done any, it's always been word of mouth. There hasn't been any, like marketing push or sales dollars or Instagram campaigns or anything like that.
Qasim Virjee 9:14
Martin Hauck 9:32
would say 80 90% is Toronto based. I would say. There's a big chunk of folks out in Vancouver, Montreal, and you've got Alberta Calgary or Edmonton, Calgary. Some folks on the East Coast and then we've got a bucket of folks from New York bucket of folks from SF. Few folks from lat am we have like, there was this one crazy portion we had like 5060 people from Nigeria. Yeah, just reach out and join the community. And some of them have emigrated to Canada. And I think it just kind of came up and topic of conversation. And another thing exists, you can meet some people. Yeah. And then we've got a bunch of folks sprinkled across Europe. I
Qasim Virjee 10:14
love this. I love hearing about digital communities that are like organic, because it's kind of the beginnings of the internet, you know, like IRC in my mind. That was the internet more important than the web was an Internet Relay Chat for me. Yeah, jumping to a chat room, you jump on a server, that server might only be available, I mean, back in the day for a couple hours, you know, and that's when you can connect with people and normally was topical, you know? So what are the kind of themes that people are generally, you know, interested in? In your community?
Martin Hauck 10:42
Yeah, well, we have two main channels, one's HR and one's recruitment. And that kind of tackles it, and we opened it up to operations. And so we've got operations might like, we have some Chief of Staff Type profiles, and we have operation manager, but it's still kind of circles back towards anything, people ops, if you're in People Operations. that's those are the topics that are typically being covered. So I would say right now, you know, obviously, at the beginning, it was a huge resource for folks from a pandemic perspective, how are you? How is your business handling, approaching the pandemic? What are the rules that you're, you know, and policies that your safety standpoint imposing on on your workforce? So there's a lot of conversation around that that's obviously migrated. One of the more popular topics right now is sort of international recruitment. Right, as a crazy economic downturn that's looming, potentially, recession is just constantly talked about. And so a lot of companies are redeploying their recruitment strategies in an international way, because they're capitalizing on the work from home aspect and the remote aspect. So that's a whole era, I've gotten so much sponsorship interest from companies that support those models, where it's like, okay, you don't have an entity. In Colombia, you don't have an entity in Poland or anything like that. So we can support you as an employer of record. Or we could just make it easy. So you're paying these people compliantly. So you don't have to think about it. So there's all of those companies just popped up out of nowhere and have expressed a lot of interest. There's, there's a ton of topics. But yeah, it's usually around like less on the recruitment, like, how do I do this most when it's when we're talking about talent acquisition and recruitment? It's usually, you know, where can I get information on compensation for the specific profession? Or what are people seeing in terms of like market conditions? Or are we having you know, is it really difficult to hire DevOps for you right now? Yes, it's really difficult for you know, that those types of conversations with
Qasim Virjee 12:48
some of it's like constellation and camaraderie. So like finding people that work in the same space as you that you could just kind of like be humans together about Yeah. And then the other side of it is like standards and best practice. Yeah, yeah. Because it's interesting. I mean, like, with every guest that comes on the series, we're talking about how, in a way, it's a weird profession to get into, typically, people get into human resources with an interest in people. Yeah. And they want to see people succeed, and they like being around people. At the same time, there's almost in some organizations, there's this kind of isolated Tory like function to that job. You're bringing people in, you're unfortunately maybe responsible for communicating them leaving a team. And then while the teams are together, your responsibilities may actually have you being taken away from interacting with people. Yeah,
HR and talent acquisition challenges in a remote work environment.
Martin Hauck 13:44
right. Yeah, it's an interesting, you're on an interesting Island, you have to set on the on the HR side, and I see HR and talent acquisition as partners, but they're very different. There are some startups that like, hey, we, we hire an HR person that does recruiting as well and makes the role so very difficult to do that well, and there are people that do it well, they also don't sleep. And they're, they're very different functions. And so I think from a recruitment perspective, if I hired you into the company, and things weren't working out, you're not looking at me saying, This is your fault. Unless I'm a terrible recruitment, I just promised a bunch of things that didn't come true kind of thing. But on the HR side, having done that roll for, you know, two years over the time that I've been in this kind of like space. Like, formally there is this like, at some point, I have to keep folks at an arm's length because at some point, I mean, I might be called in to dismiss you, or we're gonna have to go through some performance conversations or whatever. And it just makes that so there is that need for community because then who else are you going to talk to especially like, for example, another topic was layoffs. All right. Layoffs was a something that folks have been needed a lot of support on, because, hey, I'm being asked to conduct a layoff. And I've never done it before. And, you know, for our company's brand and reputation to put that responsibility in the hands of someone who's never done it before, but also understanding that the business is moving so quickly and has to react to that circumstance in that moment, you're not typically bringing in consultants to do that. You're just Alright, we're gonna work on this as a team. And so folks are coming into the community and saying, like, how do I do this? And leaning on support from from peers and mentors within the community?
Qasim Virjee 15:36
Yeah, it's definitely I'm sure been a crazy time for in the last couple of years for all of these topics. And the other side of it is, one thing we're hearing a lot, of course, is like, you know, this distributed workforce and remote work and how people that are in charge of people at organizations may never have dealt with this idea of like, how do you coordinate and facilitate coordination of communication between team members that are now in different time zones? Yeah, you know, deliverables change, or have to change or how they deliver content and, you know, whatever work to each other. If you're across time zones, and then there's, there's also a tool set of technical tools that a lot of people were scrambling in last couple of years to figure out what their tech stack for their organization was. And they don't might not, you know, in this space, they might not be very tech savvy. Yeah. So I'm sure that kind of content was also something that that came up in the community.
Martin Hauck 16:36
Yeah, those those tools have blown up as well, for sure.
Qasim Virjee 16:40
Did you find that there was turnover within the community? Or at least people going through their own job changes?
Martin Hauck 16:48
Yeah, yeah, left the right now specifically, to be honest with you, it's it's really tough for talent acquisition, and like HR, less so but the amount of recruiters that are joining the community looking for recruitment opportunities, because companies are tightening up their belts, they're responding to the economic circumstances, and the first thing that go if the first thing that goes hiring, then we don't need as many recruiters, right. And that's, that's perfect, that's across the board. Even, even in theory, if the business doesn't actually need it. Companies are still tightening their belts and saying, like, we're just gonna outsource it, outsource it. We're gonna go with fractional support as opposed to full time support. We're gonna go international, there's, there's a million different ways they're just folks are tightening their belt because they're scared of what they don't know.
Qasim Virjee 17:43
I'm sure I've in the means of on the talent acquisition side of things. Like I've wondered about this. Okay, the way I look at it, talent acquisition is sales in some ways. Part of it is and lead discovery, there's no particular database of people that are saying, Hey, I'm looking for a job. I want to post myself as someone who's hireable, at least I don't know about
Martin Hauck 18:08
that. There are there are there there's a, there's many to keep tabs on it in a good way. Like nobody's really like LinkedIn hasn't crushed that yet. Right. So you're right about it. But like, for example, good friend of mine, Adam Gellert. He has a platform called hired hippo. Oh, yeah. Hired hippo. Okay, it can definitely do what you're talking about. It's local, that's a local, local, and it could do that. But to your, to the point about, like, it's local, it's not global, yet. I think the concept, somebody's gonna get it, right. Somebody's gonna, you know, hopefully, Adam gets it right, in terms of like, it becomes global and becomes adopted. But LinkedIn hasn't figured out that like, they've got the profile picture with the green swirl. But that's, that doesn't do anything you're
Qasim Virjee 18:54
available. Yeah. But for what, how? Why? How much all that metadata could easily be established in the platform? Yeah. So what is the process typically, like, what does it look like? If you have to find someone for a job? And you're searching, you're looking for the best candidate, maybe it's someone that already has a job? Is this typically the approach now
Recruitment strategies in the tech industry.
Martin Hauck 19:19
in the startup tech space? The the assumption you it's an inbound outbound approach. So you're going to have your hands in both pots, like the outbound approaches, I'm gonna post a job and I'm gonna see what comes in and we're gonna keep an eye on the folks applying. Right? I would say it's, uh, you know, 1% of the candidates that apply or worth, you know, 5% of the candidates applying are worth having conversations with and of that 5% Maybe 50% of them are worth introducing to, to the hiring manager right on On the outbound approach, where you're reaching out to folks from whatever means, you know, Twitter, LinkedIn, Angel List, whatever, social media or online platforms available, you're tapping them on the shoulder and saying, Hey, I like what you've presented here. Let's have a conversation and and see if what you present matches further. And you can kind of double click on that. And, and so the cost of external recruitment agencies, which typically charged 15 to 20% of the base salary, just made it simple for companies to say, Well, why don't we just hire someone to do what the recruiter internally is doing? Because we made we did 10 hires with an agency we could make. If someone does five hires that pays for that person, if they do 25, which is entirely possible we've we've tripled the the ROI on that. So
Qasim Virjee 20:55
it's an interesting proposition, it makes sense. But what's also interesting to me is the where those people come from, to fill that role from like, a to hire position perspective, or Yeah, how do you hire someone to hire someone?
Martin Hauck 21:10
Yeah, so to your I think you mentioned that earlier, like there is you don't go to school for talent acquisition, you don't go to school for recruitment. There's a lot of interesting kind of common talent pools for recruitment. I would say hospitality is an awesome as an awesome candidate pool for sort of like, career transition folks, like, hey, I want to get into tech, I don't know what I want to do in tech, I just know I want to get into tech. While if you want to be a recruiter, or you're down to kind of go down that career path. Hospitality is great. Because the candidate experience translates to the customer experience, and any type of sales, obviously, because you're pitching a company, you know, my conversation with candidates when I when I'm a hands on recruiter, which I'm been for a bit, but when when I was I'm basically selling the same thing, like my script is the same. I'm just pivoting the script to highlight the points that are most interesting to the candidate. If I'm, if I'm interested in I want to sell to them. I'm obviously not going to sell too hard. But I want to make sure I'm connecting the dots that are important to them. So I'm learning about their career and figuring it out. So curious people. I mean, that's a really super vague, like, how do you measure or assess someone's curiosity? But I think, infinitely curious people make great recruiters. I think folks that have like a hospitality mindset, or have come from like, fast food or, you know, I've hired folks from, from Starbucks, who were general managers, and it just like, get shit done. And make sure people are leaving our establishment with a smile on their faces the same concept with recruiting, right? Even though I think it's a little bit more important that everybody have a good experience is 99.9% of the people that you interact with, you're giving them bad news, you're saying hey, sorry. We went in another direction more. You're you're trying, you know. And the further down the line, that candidate goes in terms of the process, the more invested they become, the more motional gets in, if you're releasing someone from the process, or you're saying, Hey, listen, we're not going to hire you. And that's the fourth round and they've invested four or five hours, your company's reputation is in that person's hands. And if you're a b2c company, that's very important if you're a b2b, still important to because that person could turn around to be a buyer eventually, right? So
Hiring and interviewing practices in the workplace
Qasim Virjee 23:41
yeah, I just spoke with someone yesterday, who was telling me they went through 17 interviews for a position. That's insane. It was one that they really wanted, and involve them flying to like five different cities in the states to have one on ones with particular people in the organization. And I was like, that's a lot.
Martin Hauck 24:00
A little bit broken.
Qasim Virjee 24:01
Yeah. That's crazy. They got it. They got it. Yeah, they got it. They became, yeah, they became a country lead of this particular company, and they're happy with it. And it's a senior role. senior roles. Absolutely. Customer service, something. It's so funny, because on the flip like, Yeah, I mean, every company has their own culture. For me when I find someone as an employer, who, you know, really who just seems like, they have an appetite for expansive thinking and for kind of functionally owning the role, but then really outgrowing it in a sense as quick as they can, by building up others. You know, I love that I'm like, okay, one interview. Seriously, yeah, throw you into it. And if you're cool with understanding that it might not work out, then let's try it out. Yeah. But not every in fact, very few organizations kind of from day one, have that dialogue. I find with candidates to say. I would say a lot of large corporations assume that, you know, the shortest period of tenure would be like six to 12 months for a candidate. Yeah. Whereas right now, I mean, in the current climate, it seems like people in their 20s are kind of seeing that as their career. Career. But yeah, they're looking for that as a maximum tenure at a company. Yeah. And companies are looking at as a minimum tenure. So it's interesting. But I think there's a lot of value the next decade for organizations to start thinking of try before you buy kind of model for hiring. Yeah. Yeah. Being very vocal and open with the candidates about that. Do you think that makes sense?
Martin Hauck 25:38
No, absolutely. I think an interview is just a conversation. And most Miss hires come from people being great at conversation and terrible at execution. And so I understand why companies ask people to put together a pitch or a presentation because they want to see the work. And it comes from a good place. But the market has been so competitive, that if you're not the candidates, primary, like top three companies, they're probably just not going to do the work. Right. So it's prohibitive. So you don't even want to include that part of the assessment process. But to your point, like I would I mean, this is, I fundamentally think that the way companies hire right now is just broken in the first place, and then could use a huge reset and refresh from a blank slate.
Qasim Virjee 26:30
What are the things that make them girls?
Martin Hauck 26:34
Well, first off it, most companies are just interviewing people through conversation. And again, that proves nothing, right? Just because I'm extroverted and charismatic doesn't mean I'm going to do my marketing demand gen job well, right. And, and so I think it should try before you buy as a much better model, right? Hey, we're interested in working with you. Let's have a conversation. Yeah, of course, you can't everything's about communication, if you're on the same page. And why not engage them for like, 10 hours of consulting work over the next two weeks, right? Yes, it's labor intensive, but you're actually going to see what that person delivers, right? And then that is a good process to be like, are they engaged or not? Right? So nothing's perfect. And there's always going to be trade offs if you shake it up. But what what I find happens in most companies I've joined is there's instead of there being like a four step process, it's just for first interviews, right?
Work culture, side hustles, and employee expectations in startups and large corporations
Qasim Virjee 27:30
So get them in, they'll figure it out, they'll learn trial by fire. Yeah. And also, it seems to be a recurring theme, as I talked to more people in this space that for large corporations, actually, you know what, it's not even large corporations. I've seen it firsthand here at Starkville on campus with like 10 person startups that are rapidly scaling. And they're moving so fast. So either an organization is gonna move so slow, that the functional expectation of a new hire is very low, that the red flags don't get raised for a long time. Yep. Or, you know, and typically, people are left to their own devices and their jobs. And part of the kind of like, settle yourself in expectation is for large corporations on one side is going to be like, here's a document or a set of documents, or some training materials that are like, how to not cut yourself with a butter knife. Yeah. And you onboard through that and spend the next month doing it. And once you do those things, and someone gets a notification that you've done it, and then they'll have a conversation with you. So there's just the architecture of, of onboarding is very, very slow. Yeah. And then the self onboarding expectations are kind of not, let's say measured. And then on the other side, you've got these, like rapidly scaling organizations, whether they're funded or not startups that are like, we have jobs for 1000 people. But we only have 10. So everyone has to do 100 people's job. Yeah. And then we'll hire to kind of like, you know, swap out and, and not to make anyone's burden easier. But to like, everyone has to go, go, go, go go because there's so much to get done. Yeah. So, and I what we find is that on the startup side of things, there can be an over expectation on functional output. And they're kind of like, Let's park the culture until we reach Series C, you know, don't think about culture, don't think about marketing for organizational structure and function. Let's just focus on, you know, pushing product and retaining customers and keep going, going, going, going going. And that's maybe where a lot of the kind of recent problems, especially for large funded organizations have been is, you know, the directive into the HR internal HR staff hasn't necessarily been to facilitate the culture piece.
Martin Hauck 29:50
No. And one of the other things I would say is that as a company scales, their needs in the Persona change dramatically. So 10 person startup is going to need and want a scrappy generalist that's willing to roll up their sleeves and do whatever it takes for the mission. But once you get to 150 200 person company, or whatever the number is, at some point, you're good, like, it's great, this person's willing to do everything, but they don't know anything deep enough where they don't know what we need them to know, now deep enough. And so the learning and development piece just is not a thing that's being considered in an effective way in the startup culture and community where it's like, you have to do a really good job of learning development to help that person get to where they need to be. Otherwise, they just bounce between startup to startup to startup because they're the builders, right? They're the, they get the foundation set up. And then at some point, the company says, Okay, we need a specialist, because we need somebody that knows how to do SEO, or whatever the thing, whatever the gap at the moment is, right? But forcing people into, you know, in the role changes for them as well. So their, their happiness, in the role changes also. So
Qasim Virjee 31:03
it's a tough thing, because you bring people in, they've got stuff to do, maybe they perform well, they do that stuff. And if you're moving too fast as an organization to your top line goals, you don't really focus on this, like, what else can everyone do? You know, it came out in one of our episodes where we were talking about one with one of the guests is this notion of, and maybe this is something you can speak to from, from even the topics that are being discussed on your on your channel and your slack. But like, one of the interesting ideas is going around is this four day workweek, right? Came up with Jay Goldman, actually from sensei labs. And so Jay was saying, we've moved to the four day workweek, we did the trial as part of that whole global network of companies that we're doing it. And they found a lot of success. And they found that, you know, in their off day, they would coordinate it. So there is a general off day, I think it was Friday. Other people can use their physical real estate during that. So they give it to like, youth educators and stuff. So there's the kind of a cultural benefit where, you know, people can donate time to help that function. Or they can literally be away from the office and turn off their phone. Yeah. But then also the kind of conversation evolved into talking about this idea of maybe not taking a fifth day off or whatever day off, and instead saying that's a free day to do your own project. And this is a big question right now, I think floating around have in HR have side hustles and how corporates, enable that. encourage that. turn a blind eye to it? What are you hearing about side hustles? And can side hustles be an opportunity for companies to incubate innovation? I
Work-life balance and flexible work arrangements
Martin Hauck 32:47
think it's a huge opportunity. But I think it's so innovative and foreign that larger organizations don't know how to handle it. Because there's no, there are companies that do it and support it. I forget, like, like Google has the Yeah, so that exists. So you've got this entire organization of Intrapreneurs, right intrapreneurship a lot of people have great ideas, and they want to work on them. And that's kind of what fills their cup. So if your fifth day you get to, if you know, the project that you're working on, for the time being is not filling your cup, or at least your fifth day, you get to work on something that you enjoy, and you still associate that with the culture and the company that you're a part of. So it kind of offsets, you know, the monotonous work to a certain extent, there hasn't been a lot of conversation around the side hustle piece in terms of like whether or not it should be a thing or how should companies kind of approach it. There has been a lot of conversation around the four day workweek piece. And you know, there's a lot of interest we we did a workshop with Jamie savage from the leadership agency, and she just flipped they went and not just like recently they went to a four day work week and she basically just taught the entire community in the in the folks that were interested in learning how they went about it, what are the pros, the cons and all that fun stuff. And and so that conversations popular. Not all companies are in a position to support or want to support it, but kind of giving the given the fact that compensation and inflation has just gone bananas rather than paying people more giving people time off and still paying them the same amount. There is a loss in say productivity to a certain extent, but the numbers are showing from on this report in the global research that like giving that giving people that extra day is actually making I'm more productive during the four days,
Qasim Virjee 35:02
it makes up for more than makes up for that day off.
Martin Hauck 35:04
Yeah. Yeah, it's been it's a bit ensure, like, I haven't heard negative things about I haven't heard overly negative like, Yeah, you don't execute it well, well, there's always that. But nothing's really pointed me like, Okay, I would avoid that if I had the opportunity to roll it out. We'll just
Qasim Virjee 35:21
with it without the, without the kind of like methodology behind it. It was a practice that got adopted just a few years ago with the, you know, the oil sector bust in Alberta. You know, definitely, Edmonton is more like resilient with its government employment base being large, you know, but in Calgary, when the oil companies started tanking, you know, just before the pandemic, a couple years before the pandemic, and the tar sands were kind of non viable. And all this stuff happened. Almost every company went to a four day workweek and slashed salaries or did this as a means of not slashing the total salaries and saying, Look, we're going to keep you on. But we can't afford to pay you the fifth day, they cut the salary of the day. And from all the companies I've talked to out there, most everybody was saying that you know what? Everyone was happier, because they didn't care about the money. They were just out in the mountains for the extra day. Yeah, you know, their their canoe, their skiing, that's also a different context, like Albertans are kind of more like that. But, but I think it's interesting, I think, especially where people are in high performing roles, they need breaks. Yeah. And then also on the counterbalance, with large corporate kind of entanglements. Sometimes people just need pause from belonging to that organization through the week. Yeah. Yeah. So there's,
Martin Hauck 36:45
it's a very binary approach to you're either working five days a week, or, you know, we're not interested in you kind of thing. Yeah, like, it's cool to hear that they did that. But to your, to your point, like, if you're a high performer, and you've just been working six months in a grind to close a deal. You're like, Hey, listen, I need a sabbatical. And that's not gonna work for you. But how about I take two months where I just work three days a week, and you can recharge and refresh so that when the next big deal comes along, you're, you're set up for it, versus that person just ultimately burning out, then Miss placing the blame on the employers who hate this place, fuck them, and then leaving, and then that employer loses a great person, when instead, it's just like, hey, let's take a look at the human. Right, figure out what they need, and scale back. And most companies can't do that. Like it's not it's just so foreign to them that like, I'm I'm not saying like, even even my current employer, like, I don't know that we would look at that, because it's, there's so many other things to tackle. But kind of kind of going back to the piece. Like I think the way we look at work is very broken, I think what's positive for the future of work is we're starting to look at these ideas more seriously. We're having a conversation now, two, three years from now, there's going to be more companies doing like, maybe it's not a four day work. But maybe it's like, a flexible workweek, or gig work and contract work is going to become more popular as well. So
Qasim Virjee 38:16
we're definitely seeing with distributed work and remote work here at start. Well, we're, you know, like the main function of this place, we've talked about this off camera, right like that. We do the media stuff, we do a lot of media production stuff. But outside of that, for the most part, as we started as a co working space in 2017, we've actually taken a lot of like office space off the menu, and converted into meeting space because we are facilitating, and not facilitating the sense of hands on lead sessions, but we're kind of enabling team gatherings. And some of those are working days. And like for teams that are distributed, don't have an office are coming together in person once a month, once a week, once a quarter. And they find it so much, you know, so much value out of that, because a lot of it is just socialization, like they come together to be like, oh, yeah, I forgot about you as a person. Because no one likes being on Zoom. You know, no one likes being on like, video calls. No. And it's exhausting. And being tapped in all day, with other people through collaboration software, very difficult. When you're in the office, you get moments of privacy, you know, for the most part and office work, white collar work. So it's very interesting, but yeah, we are seeing that the way that organizations are approaching this distribution. And now, you know, so many companies in Toronto alone, which I'm surprised it took this long, but that's me because I'm always thinking of innovation. So many companies that you know, from Fortune 50 companies to startups are choosing these. Seeing them I think through last year was like tests to do these like you know, in person days, yeah, but now we have bookings that are see spot that, you know, where companies are committing to it through next year as the way that they work? Yeah. So that's a big flag for change. Yeah, I think this big wave of
Martin Hauck 40:09
like this quasi conspiracy theory that like most companies, even at the highest levels aren't willing to do something crazy or innovative until a big player does it. And then they just copycat it. Right? Looking at, like, controversial, I guess, but Elon Musk and what he's doing with Twitter,
Innovation and responsibility in business
Qasim Virjee 40:34
I was like, in my head, I was like, he's either gonna say Kanye West, one of those.
Martin Hauck 40:39
Yeah, what he's what he's doing with Twitter and how he's going about it. I don't agree with but there's some interesting aspects to some of his arguments in terms of, okay, so the Tesla team engineerings, 150 people, and that handles the responsibility of people's lives. How is it that Twitter has 3000 developers? Right? And, you know, my heart goes out to the folks that are impacted by this, these crazy changes. But I think those actions are making all the other executives in doesn't matter if it's tech or not look at that from a business perspective, and say, Hmm, can I do that, as opposed to people being brave on their own, and just saying, Hey, we're going to be innovative, and we're going to try this crazy fucking idea. Right? So people are always I feel like most businesses are waiting. Whereas like, the truly innovative companies are because they just take a bold step and they do it. Four Day workweeks, not an innovation thing anymore. It's a copycat thing, I think, yeah,
Company financing and leadership
Qasim Virjee 41:43
it's an interesting observation. And I think for me, my lens on it is, in part paralleling, you know, the culture of public companies, and the responsibility chain at the top to the shareholder, and communication, resulting there of, you know, on one side, and then on the other side, if it's going to be two identities, the kind of like, agile startup that has to like grow, by all means. Otherwise, it's dead. Yeah, I think far too many public companies don't understand cash flow, like, they just don't. And so many of them, and I've been in there, you know, I've been in the belly of the beast of some organizations. When I had my court, my days in corporate, were essentially like, large behemoth, even if they're tech companies, but they've been around for 100 years. They only can grow through acquisition. And there's this whole thing of like, you know, acquire companies to buy your future and your current state, and then carry a ridiculous amount of debt. I mean, even the some of the most innovative public companies that are doing amazing things to change an industry like our friends, Netflix, they're not cashflow sustainable. Yeah, you know, so I think that, that kind of like, you know, like, financially bloated company that's not earning enough to carry that status, unfortunately, lends itself or has culturally in North America lent itself over the last three, four or five decades to being slow moving to being like, Let's carry a lot of fat, because if we don't, if we start trimming it, we have to answer a bigger question. You know, and the Elon Musk is interesting, because it's like, okay, so dude comes in, and he's agile. And he's like, this is my thing. And I can do whatever I want with it now starts trimming the fast start saying, Well, this has to be leaner, we need to drive up revenue somehow. But at the same time, while all this is happening, the threat of bankruptcy is looming. And it was probably looming before he came into it. You know, like a lot of companies can sit in zombie mode, you know, just as long as they have access to debt, to kind of keep evading the question of whether they need to make decisions that are hard decisions. And some people don't have appetite as, as leaders, true leaders of organizations to carry that stress. Yeah. Say instead, you know, this could actually do something. So it is interesting, it
Martin Hauck 44:13
blows my mind. How many companies are not cash? Just that That fact alone? There's like, oh, like even for you to say that about Netflix. Like, I didn't even know that in like 9.6 5
Qasim Virjee 44:25
billion in debt. The last time I looked, that's they'll never earn it through subscription revenue, or even through ticket prices, ticket sales, as they, you know, release stuff in cinemas, if those exist for the next five years. There's no way they can license their way to revenue that would make up for that loss. But it doesn't matter because they're the brand, the platform layer brand, you know. So in that way, there's always going to be dark pools of capital available, and the street is always going to love the stock to us. certain degree. Yeah. So it's like, you know, but yeah, you're right. It's a huge issue in the public markets globally. And definitely in North America that like, most companies are not operating on the same financial needs as SMBs. And early stage ventures. Now,
Martin Hauck 45:22
it's changed my mind of the type of business I want to build as well. Because last year, or this year, rather, starting now, we're not there yet. Still 2022 Almost. I, the people, people group had two acquisition conversations, which is cool, unexpected. And I went through those conversations from an experiential perspective. But yeah, the second you take on investment, or the second you, you take on, or you agree to be acquired the rules of the game change completely. And I think my mindset with with the people, people group has always been to like, build something that for the community, by the community, and the second you take an investment that goes away,
Qasim Virjee 46:14
you're answerable to other performance metrics, because
Martin Hauck 46:18
they have a different agenda versus versus your own. And it's just strange to me that more companies don't bootstrap like, you've got a business, why don't you build a business instead of a tech startup? It's
Entrepreneurship, venture capital, and the importance of foundational merit
Qasim Virjee 46:31
difficult, you know, and I always have this discussion, I'm constantly talking to people about the difference between Well, we can prototype these these identities or cohorts, but like there's entrepreneurialism, right, which is yay, start something, create something that creative processes, almost artistry. And then you've got, you know, business people, the people that look at an organization as a means to generate profit, and focus on that organizational structure that maximizes profit, but still ensures efficient operations. And then you've got, you know, kind of startup kids or like, I guess, I don't know how to describe this really simply. But what I think North America in the last decade, has kind of taken as the status quo for what an entrepreneur is. But it's a misnomer. It's not the real definition, which is someone who goes out and has some sort of vision, maybe they are an entrepreneur, they can start something. But they necessarily have to take capital in order to fund the undertaking. I think that it's funny, because historically, North America was a bootstrap. Land. Yeah, everyone who came off the boats, and did whatever hardships to the people they shouldn't have. But even the people that came before the original people of this land, you know, had to survive in nature. And I think this is a weird thing with the availability of debt and massive availability of capital, kind of like in the last few decades in North America. It seems to me that people have moved away from relying on business as a means of livelihood. Instead looking at it as a means of generating profit, and that profit isn't necessarily across the board for the whole company's balance sheet. But it's for the people who are running the company. So if the company becomes a means of extracting profits from operations, as opposed to this whole idea of kind of like it generating profits, so it can be fed back into the organization, and growth can be achieved. With the ultimate goal. Yeah, maybe of making more profit. I think those are two different things. Yeah. So it's kind of weird, because I'm seeing a whole class of of young entrepreneurs in tech, especially, you know, chasing after riches that their businesses will never earn. And then you've got these exits that are almost pre planned for a lot of people that are non realistic in terms of their valuations. So you've got m&a, and then you've got IPOs, historically, as the payouts Yeah. But what those are just funding a pyramid scheme, because you have all these investors buying into a hopeful vision of massive success. Yeah, but the successes and again, it's not borne out of customer relationships, typically. Yeah. Not to the point that would justify the investment. Yeah. And the ROI required, at least in the venture capital model is like 100 to 1,000%. So the only way to earn that typically is to like pass the buck down to some sucker at the end. Yeah, very interesting, for sure. But I hope that coming out of the pandemic, I've seen a lot of people undertake entrepreneurial, you know, ventures, and try their hand kind of at creating business coming out of the pandemic because for whatever reason, they're sick of their career, or they're burnt out. out there, you know, organization that they're doing because they don't have that fifth day or they don't have time off or they don't have a means of contributing. Yeah. Outside of their the functional expectation of their job. So I don't know, I'm hopeful that that like this may change, we may return to a kind of more bootstrapping Canada.
Martin Hauck 50:18
I see the I see the point of, like, it's necessary. It's, it's, it's right in the right circumstances, but it was out of control. I that this is clearly a correction. Right? Because it just became, it was it was so pervasive that it just became a mechanism of betting, and I'm just gonna invest $100 million, and, you know, 50 companies, and if one of them hits them, doesn't matter if 49 of them fail, because there's humans behind those 49. And there's, there's hopes and all that fun stuff. And you double click on each one of those 49 companies that failed. And the end of the day, if that 50th hits, it's just high level high stakes gambling to a certain extent, represent
Qasim Virjee 50:58
100%. Yeah, no, unfortunately. I mean, it is that's just the state of it. And also, you know, there's something to be said also, for at least in Canada, I'll say this in last five years. We had an explosion in the venture capital industry where I think there was something like, you know, a growth of maybe, definitely 500%. Um, definitely, in the last five years, the growth of 500% in the amount of active venture capital organization, so, five times is that the right math? Yeah, that's what I'm trying to say five times as many VCs exists today, or maybe six months ago. Yeah. As existed in 2000, like, whatever it was, you know, 18, let's call it. Yeah. Now on the cusp of 2023, I think it's pretty crazy, because it speaks to the availability of the capital, but also the amount of capital when you aggregate is not that much that kind of got spent on dead companies. If it was money that came from other risky investments on the macro, it's just kind of crazy to sit back and think, Well, there's so much money that's being invested generally in the world. Yeah. And if you know, particular property market tanks, that money may get reallocated into super high risk things like what we're talking about. Yeah. That being said, my conversations with venture capitalists recently in Canada are that there hasn't been a net decrease in money for good companies. It's just the dumb money that came with people who had access to capital that will get rich, quick kind of VCs, like, I'm going to do this, this is gonna be awesome. I'll be a VC who aren't committing to the career of being a VC, you know, and maybe didn't come from entrepreneurialism? Yeah. That will have it today. It's correction curve. But in terms of availability of capital, invest in really good opportunities and companies that are led by great leaders. Apparently, this still opportunity.
Martin Hauck 53:04
It's like VC went through their own altcoin season of, from a crypto perspective, like Bitcoin and Litecoin and the consistent Kryptos are there and they have foundational merit, but the hundreds of 1000s of cryptocurrencies that just appeared when there was a hype, and just died quickly, because they weren't built on anything foundational or, or novel, just disappeared. So I feel like it's very, very similar market hype, that are kind of intertwined in some interesting ways. Absolutely.
Qasim Virjee 53:37
Yeah. I mean, fundamentally, it's just about kind of capital, right. And the the ability for people to wield capital, and try and deploy financial means, as opposed like purely as opposed to just operating businesses. Anyway, but that's a whole nother that's a whole other things to watch out for then for the slack, or, you know, for the Slack community that you're running for the people people next year. Yeah. Is it something that you're going to be able to devote a little more time to? Is there events or anything that you're trying to put together? Yeah,
HR and recruitment community growth and development
Martin Hauck 54:12
so this was the first we like, I think two weeks ago, we had our first strategic planning session ever. Everything up until this point has been spaghetti at the wall. And there's like, there's 5060 different directions, we can take things. And it's fun for me to have a lot of different irons in the fire from like a ideation perspective. But for actual what we're going to do in 2023 main focus is continuous sponsorship. And that's that worked in 2022 for us, and it allowed us to take a team of like three fractional people and build it out to like 12, fractional people. Awesome team members that are kind of going to support The sponsorship side as well as the community and then the the, the content that we put out and, and that sort of thing. One thing we didn't do as much of last year, partially because of the pandemic was events. And there's a lot of competition on the event side. And we don't want to really enter that part of it. But I think there is a huge opportunity to like create events dedicated to just connecting with people, not networking events, but just literally like, Hey, we're all in the same profession. Let's hang out for a few hours, right? Totally. Nothing like that kind of exists. And so we're, we're aiming to do at least four socials. Next year, maybe I'll tap you on the shoulder for events. So
Qasim Virjee 55:41
we should work together because we're for the gathering series, you know, to accessorize this podcast and then the two day kind of conference I'm putting together in April here at Stowell on a monthly basis starting in January, we're going to be doing the social.
Martin Hauck 55:56
You know, let's join forces. Definitely wanna talk to you about that. Cool. So events leading us to a conference as well, two day three day Summit. So my business partner Preet he runs design X community. I modeled most of the early stages of the people, people group after what he built and eventually tapped him on the shoulder. I'm like, Hey, man, I'm stealing 80% of your playbook. Why don't you come help me build the rest that I don't like doing like events. And so he's been awesome partner there. And then building out through this fractional consulting concept. So we've piloted that we're going to continue with that. And the main focus is really just spotlighting members of the community. So the podcasts that I've done, have focused on people outside of the community, kind of bringing in knowledge, but I wanted to start doing podcasts with people from the community, awesome, as well. Yeah, there's a million directions. Ironically, based off the conversation we just had, like, we're looking at building out an SPV, or a special purpose vehicle for HR and recruitment people to invest collaboratively, and other HR tech companies that we believe in. So we've got, you know, four or five deals that we're looking at, and we're gonna make our first collective investment, hopefully in q1 of next year. Wow. So there's a million things going on. It's it's pretty exciting. I'm most excited about the team we've put together to kind of work on that for 2023. So yeah,
Qasim Virjee 57:32
yeah, it's been a few years. So now you're at a point where you feel like the organization is an organization.
Martin Hauck 57:39
Project. So we're, it's the the example I give is like I'm building a team. And if that team was playing a sport, let's just call it basketball. At any given moment, one of my players could just disappear. And that's true for any business. But because all of us are fractionally doing this, and like some people, I've I've got two hours a week or I've got 10 hours all I see if they get a new job, or if the work becomes busy for them, they just kind of I just have randomly have players on the field just disappearing and I got a sub in some bout and so it's been an interesting pendulum swing of like, it was just me and a core group of two or three people. And I learned a lot of lessons from that. And then me pendulum swinging into like, now it's gonna be 1215 people. And folks got to put their hand up if they want to, like help out on an initiative if they want to increase our socials or work on the newsletter or plan events or that sort of thing.
Qasim Virjee 58:40
Interesting. Well, yeah, anyway, we can support through 2023 Cool. Yeah. Thanks for joining me on the podcast, man.
Qasim Virjee 58:47
Thanks for having me is a lot of fun. Absolutely.
Qasim Virjee 58:49
A pleasure speaking all about the community, your thoughts on kind of, you know, the world of HR and hearing a little bit about about your journey also, you know, yeah, career wise.
Martin Hauck 59:02
No, appreciate it.