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July 28, 2021 | 33 Mins Read

Tactics for Closing the Talent Gap

July 28, 2021 | 33 Mins Read

Tactics for Closing the Talent Gap


Co-authors of the book Game Changer: How to Be 10x in the Talent Economy, Michael Solomon and Rishon Blumberg, share with Sarah and listeners insights on how to navigate working remote, the demand for innovative and fast responses to customer needs, virtual-only experiences, and high unemployment rates.

Sarah Nicastro: Welcome to the Future of Field Service podcast. I'm your host, Sarah Nicastro. Today I have two guests with me to talk about some of the ways that we can tackle the talent gap. We all know that this is a problem in all of the industries that we cover here at Future of Field Service. This challenge is only going to increase in the coming years. And so we are committed to bringing you as much content as we can to discuss some of the ways that you can prepare and take control of the situation. So today I have with me the authors of a book, one of which is Michael Solomon, Michael Solomon, hi, Michael is an established entrepreneur and the founder of 10x Management, 10x Ascend, Brick Wall Management, Musicians On Call, Kristen Ann Carr Fund, and The We Are All Music Foundation.

Sarah Nicastro: So clearly Michael, you don't stay very busy. He is also co-author of the book Game Changer, which is a lot of what we're going to be talking through today. Another author of the book is Rishon Blumberg who graduated from The Wharton School with a degree in entrepreneurial management. He co-founded Brick Wall Management along with Michael, as well as 10x Management and 10x Ascend. And also coauthored the book Game Changer. So we are going to be picking the brains of these two gentlemen today about some of the tactics that companies should be considering and deploying to tackle the growing talent gap. So before we dig in, gentlemen, do you mind just telling everyone a bit about yourselves, Rishon, I'm going to start with you.

Rishon Blumberg: Yeah. First of all, we've known each other since third grade. So what I'm going to say to you covers a lot of Michael, so I'm sure he'll chime in with his own personal take on certain things, but basically we've done it all together. We grew up in born and raised in New York city. I'll take you back to the '70s and '80s, which was really a very interesting time in New York. It was incredibly entrepreneurial in a wide variety of ways. We happen to be exposed very early on to people whose parents were in the music industry. And so for us, it was our first entree into a career path, which at the time we didn't know, we just knew, oh, someone so's dad is a huge music entertainment lawyer and someone so's mother co-managers and artist and someone so's father is a concert promoter.

Rishon Blumberg: And then we both fell into the entertainment industry and started to management company in 1995, Brick Wall Management. And then that led naturally over the course of about 15 years to the creation of 10x Management. When we saw that there were different types of people that were being considered talent. I think that one of the things that we'll talk about today is the fact that we believe all companies need to consider their employees as talent. They're so valuable to everything that a company does, that they have to be treated that way. They have to be thought of that way. Once you start thinking about people that way you really start to treat and value them in a different manner. So we started to think about different types of talent. We saw that chefs were having managers and agents, their celebrity chefs, all of a sudden that need representation.

Rishon Blumberg: And so we felt the tech talent where there was a huge supply and demand gap would be an interesting place to test out the ideas that we had been running in entertainment for a long time. So we started 10x Management, technically in 2012, but we really started the company in 2011. We launched the company, soft launched the company in 2011. And the book is really a culmination of the lessons that we've learned working with all this different type of talent over the course of the last 26, some odd years. So that's a little bit of background, Michael, I'm sure you can color in.

Michael Solomon: I just need to acknowledge that he glossed over some of our earlier entrepreneurial endeavors, not all of which were legal. So we had a great fake ID business and we did keg parties in high school. And the only reason I bring that up is I think it just speaks to, I don't know that entrepreneurs are born versus made, but we definitely had the entrepreneurial bug from the beginning. And I think that's a through line that we see. And then the other through line being the talent and distilling the lessons that we've learned for managing what now includes musical talents, music producers and writers some directors and filmmakers, and then over to tech talent and entrepreneurial talent and getting to see other than maybe people in a major talent agency who work with writers and athletes and actors and directors.

Michael Solomon: We got to see such a broad base of talent and see what they had in common and to distill that into this book and really, why does that matter to companies now and why to companies need to think about this differently. And even as we, we'll get further into this, but even as Rishon was using the word talent, I'm thinking about the difference between the term human resources department and talent. It sounds important, which sounds valuable to the company. And I just think that we need a really big paradigm shift about how companies think about the people that make their workforce happen.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah. That makes total sense. So first of all, kudos to you guys for staying friends through all of this and-

Michael Solomon: We're not friends.

Sarah Nicastro: Okay. Can't stand each other. And I think it's a spirit, honestly. But I also think it's interesting that you bring that up. What led you to create the fake ID business back in high school, which transition to another company into another company into another company. There is, I think an element to the conversation we're about to have of not only looking for the checklist skills, but learning how you can qualify or identify some of those less tangible spirit type, so if it's spirit or initiative tenacity, some of those things that you might find in a candidate that doesn't have all of the checkbox skills, but has the thing. That would make them ultra-successful, despite that.

Sarah Nicastro: So all right. We'll get into all of that. Now, Michael and Rishon, and I spent a few minutes chatting before we started recording this podcast and I found out some of you listeners know that I'm in Erie, Pennsylvania. There is a band from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania that my husband loves called the Clarks. And these gentlemen actually have managed the Clarks for, I think you said 26 years or something like that?

Michael Solomon: Very close to that. I think it's 25.

Rishon Blumberg: Yeah. It's about 25 years.

Sarah Nicastro: So small world, and that is very cool. But while we chatted, I also got them up to speed on some of the challenges that our listeners face in terms of the changes in business strategy, the changes in leveraging service as more of a strategic opportunity and what that means in terms of how the skills and personality traits and leadership traits that companies are looking for within their talent have changed and are changing. So before we get into some of the nitty gritty, I guess, you mentioned this Rishon at a high level, you took some of your experiences over all of these years with all of the different types of talent you've worked with and put it into the book. What do you think it is in terms of the changes in business landscape that make a book like this so necessary and relevant right now? So Rishon, do you want to take that?

Rishon Blumberg: Yeah. I mean, I think that the purpose of your podcast and what you focus on is exactly the reason why we felt that this book was super necessary. So we had been working for about 10 years in helping to place exceptional 10x, excuse me, 10x level freelance tech talent with companies. And we kept finding all of these procurement issues. Either companies weren't set up properly to really work with this kind of talent or understand why they needed to work with this kind of talent. And then some companies were set up exceptionally well. So we saw that there was a divide in perhaps understanding and information around what was necessary in the marketplace. And I think what people that are watching this podcast are seeing is there's a difference between the things that you need today from your talent versus what you needed 15, 20, 30, 40 years ago.

Rishon Blumberg: And that talent gap creates this supply and demand imbalance. They have a demand for these people, they need these people, but there isn't a great supply. And when you have that situation, you have to really change the way that you do business. So this book is really the first half of the book is all about what companies should be doing. And part of that is a cultural shift from the top down ways in which we believe 10x level talent needs to be worked with. And 10x level is really that is this concept of somebody who's a very high performer, high achiever. The second half of the book is about what people can do to push themselves down that 10x spectrum. But it all relates to what you're talking about, which is what can companies do? What do companies need to do to find the types of resources that are crucial to the success iteration and growth of their business? So that was really the impetus behind writing the book.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah. And I think a couple of the points you made about just calling it talent instead of workforce, or instead of a resource. There's a lot of disruption in the industries that would be listening to this podcast right now. There's a lot of big, big change in customer expectation and customer demand. And I think there's a number of areas that we discuss quite regularly within our content where, you see organizations that are reacting quite adeptly to that disruption in multiple ways. And they're redefining their business models. They're redefining what their service offerings are. They're snatching up this 10x talent and recognizing the need to bring in a fresh perspective or to introduce a new area of the business, et cetera.

Sarah Nicastro: And then there's people that are quite stuck in legacy thinking, culture, technology and it's really holding them back from evolving at the pace that they need to. And so I think discussing those things as it relates to like you said in your book, how do you get ahead of this and how do you capture some of the talent that is in such high demand is really important topic. So, yeah. Michael, go ahead.

Michael Solomon: I was just going to jump in there and talk about one of the things that when we wrote the book, which was before the pandemic, we were writing and talking about the need to allow certain people to work remotely because they're going to give you better results that way. And you can get access to people you'd never otherwise get access to. And I don't want to say that was a radical idea because this had already begun, but we were really trying to help companies understand the value and the need for that. Move fast forward over the last 16, 18 months. And not only do people want that, you now are seeing this huge wave of people who will not go back to the office, they're quitting their jobs when they're being told to come back to the office, which was far bigger illustration of our point than we ever could have possibly conceived of.

Michael Solomon: And that's one attribute. So when you start to think about your people as talent, and you think about what does talent mean, and how does talent get treated in the world? It's really about understanding who they are and what they need and what they want. And that doesn't mean that you have to be everybody, when we talk about this, they think, "Oh, we're just going to give them everything they want." That's not where we're coming from. This is about being human first and understanding that people have lives and nobody was born on this planet to work. That's not what we're here for. I don't know what we are here for, but I know that is not the purpose of being a human being.

Michael Solomon: And we may derive pleasure and purpose out of working, but that's not the only thing. And as soon as you start to understand and look at what somebody is driven by, you now can appeal in trying to hire or retain or manage them to them. And that's the paradigm shift is it's no longer about what can you do for the company, but it's a little bit about how does the company fit into your plans?

Sarah Nicastro: Right. Okay. I have a few thoughts, but I want to take it in order. Okay. I mentioned this to you a bit before we started recording, but let me recap. I hate when I have to generalize our whole audience, because it is a variety of different industries, different size organizations, different regions, it's a global audience, et cetera. But for the sake of the conversation, I'm just going to generalize a couple of things in terms of the challenges that are common here in recruiting this next generation of talent. So I mentioned the fact that one challenge is the role itself is evolving. And so while companies are trying to seek talent, they're also redefining it which can be complex.

Sarah Nicastro: But beyond that, we're talking about industries, manufacturing, HPAC, telecommunications. Some things where these aren't necessarily the sexiest jobs. When you ask the six year old, what do you want to be when you grow up? My son will say a firefighter or a doctor or a teacher, there's some common things that people visualize and you don't really hear field technician most often. I mean, I, myself, when I entered this space 13, 14 years ago, didn't even know what field service was. So that's a challenge. So the unsexiness or even just the lack of awareness that these job opportunities exist, combined with some of the verticals within the industries we reach are maybe not as glamorous as some candidates might seek.

Sarah Nicastro: And then you do have issues with flexibility that maybe aren't as big of a consideration in tech for instance. So travel requirements, set schedules, service level agreements, et cetera. So those are some of the challenges that being said, these folks are all faced with the need to manage the incumbent talent that they have, while hiring a whole new generation of workforce to carry the torch and carry the torch in an evolved and improved way. So based on some of the things that you cover in Game Changer, even if it needs some modification for our audience, what are some of the elements that these organizations need to be considering in terms of what today's talent is seeking? So, Michael, do you want to take that one?

Michael Solomon: Sure. I think the starting point is asking the talent, what are they seeking? I mean, as you talked about incumbent talent, you have to survey that group of people to understand what they like and don't like about their jobs. And that's not something that I think many of these companies were giving a lot of thought to, but that may be part of what informs how you put out offerings to bring in the new talent or to train new people. Because this is, I don't know enough about this specific field, but I have a feeling that it's going to be a requirement of the companies to build the runway to the talent of the future, to train them, to teach them, to create mentorship opportunities. And if you don't start out by understanding what is the talent want, what do they like? What do they hate?

Michael Solomon: You're shooting in the dark. And when a big part of what we've learned over our entrepreneurial journey is you have to start with a little bit of data. You can start with a hunch. I mean, our entrepreneurial background is, hmm, that sounds like a good idea. Let's do it. And it's only over the last 15 years that we've thought, hmm, that seems like a good idea. Let's see if it actually is. And then if it is, we can do it and if it's not, we can iterate. So I think that the starting point is looking for what people want. And then also as you're actually hiring individuals, understanding what is their why? What do they care about in life?

Michael Solomon: We have somebody on our team where it's become very clear that they are very happy, they like us. They like working with us, but they're there for the money. The money is there, they're going to stay. And we have other people for whom the money is not the driver at all. It's the nurturing environment and the opportunity to grow and learn new things and constantly be challenged. And until... On the macro level, you want to get data about the group, but on the hiring level, you want to understand about the individual, not because you're going to tailor everything around them. You're not going to create a new job for them or a new job title or a new job description for them, but you might sell them on different parts of your company once you know a little bit more about them. And you might even change your offer based on their needs.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah, that makes sense. I think one of the thing, as you were answering, I was thinking as challenging for just some of the folks that I've talked to about this and in our space. When you talk about surveying the incumbents, that gets tricky in the sense of, in a lot of cases, there's some real generational differences. And so what the incumbents like about the job, or don't like about the job or what drives them or et cetera, could be glaringly different than the people that these organizations are looking to hire. That being said, that's not universally true and it's certainly still a good advice.

Sarah Nicastro: But I think, there's a situation here where a lot of these folks are trying to better understand how these roles fit with a younger generation and how to within what's possible and reasonable to still deliver the outcome, to evolve the working environment, a company culture, et cetera, in a way that will be appealing. So I'm just wondering if you guys could maybe share just based on your insights, with the next generation of talent, the younger workforce, what are some of the things that are most important at that macro level?

Rishon Blumberg: Well, their purpose. I think that that's something that I don't think we can gloss over that. It's also something that I think high achievers are in general. So I think there's something in common with being a very high achiever and Millennial and Gen Zs, which is that they're purpose driven. They want to know what kind of difference they're making. And that's why we emphasize heavily how important culture is in a company and how important from the top down the messaging needs to be, because that is part of the allure. Culture can be really sexy even at an HVAC company. If you treat people well, if you put forth very clearly what your purpose is, we're here to help ensure that people don't burn up, like in Portland at 113 degree temperatures, we want to have, we want to make sure that the HVAC in people's homes are always working, that the downtime is limited because people suffer from that.

Rishon Blumberg: When you start connecting, as Michael mentioned earlier, the why of what the company does. I think you can really attract a different type of employee. I mean, in reality, I think what you're talking about in the field service businesses is very much like a concierge business where something goes wrong and the person that it goes wrong for, wants somebody to come there and solve their problem with a smile and make them feel better. They want to be made whole and that requires obviously a lot of technical skill, but it requires a lot of EQ. It requires the emotional capacity, the empathy to understand the pain that they're going through. I had a great experience recently with my cable provider. And I've been with the same cable provider for probably 15 years.

Rishon Blumberg: I've seen a conscious effort and differentiation to make the quality of service better, to make it feel like they actually care that I'm having an issue. And that's got to be from the top down. That is a cultural shift at that company. And that is a huge differentiator. So that's what I would say is the number one takeaway.

Michael Solomon: I think to the point you're making, and this is going back to what we were saying earlier, is if you're interviewing somebody and you now know that they're mission driven, they care about the what and the why, if you're an HR person, and you're still sitting there telling them about the benefits and the money is this, and you get two weeks and you're not talking about, "We save lives. We want to make sure people don't die in heat waves and cold snaps. And this is essential work, and we're not often thought about that way." And you can connect that to that person and make them feel like, "Oh my God, I'm going to be a frontline person. I'm going to be saving lives." I'm being a little bit hyperbolic with all of this, but there's actually truth to it. I mean, I happened to-

Rishon Blumberg: When you express those things properly and by properly, I mean, you actually walk the walk and talk the talk, and you live that day in and day out the company you create many evangelists for your company. And that's really what great companies do and why people want to work at those companies because other people talk so positively about it, both on social media. Obviously we live in a world where reviews are instant anonymous and frequent.

Rishon Blumberg: And one bad review can change the trajectory of a company. So you have to constantly be working to reinforce the culture that you have to create these evangelists who can really go out and talk about how wonderful it is to work with this organization. That, yeah, okay, we're an HVAC company, but what we really are is this, we help ensure that people stay warm when it's cold and cool. When it's boiling hot, et cetera, et cetera really changed the narrative of what you're doing. And you can attract a different type of person.

Sarah Nicastro: I think that's a really good point. And that idea of purpose has come up a lot in our conversations. The other one that comes up quite frequently, that I'm just interested to get your opinions on is the idea of, again, making some big generalizations. But the idea that while a certain generation of field technician may have been happy to do the same job day after day, year after year for 25 years. A lot of younger workers really want a progression path. And so this concept for organizations to do a better job of obviating that ahead of time for candidates and clarifying what some of the growth opportunities are. So that not only do they know from the beginning they exist, but the stage is set for what that looks like and how they would get there in terms of both, I guess, initial appeal and retention I don't know what your thoughts are on that.

Rishon Blumberg: We have very, very clear thoughts on that. At 10x Ascend, what we do is we help people negotiate their compensation packages, their new compensation packages. And we have something, a tool called lifestyle calculator that has 24 different attributes of a compensation package that they have to weight against each other. So you have a total of 100 points and you have to weigh these different things against each other. So you can see really, you can challenge yourself "What's important to me?" And you can see graphically where those things rank. And one of the things that I think that does both for the individual and for the company is it helps them understand what's important to that person. One of those things is career progression. So want any time that that ranks in somebody's lifestyle calculator, we want to make sure that that question is asked very clearly of a company so that they know going in.

Rishon Blumberg: And so I agree with you. I think that it's super important for companies to assess the importance of that for the candidate, but also to be out front and explain what that progression really looks like, what their expectations can be, what the timelines can be, what success metrics look like, what does success mean for that company? So we're all about that. And we think that it is super important, especially at the outset. The hiring process is the place where you set the stage for what you know about this person and that process helps them to be onboarded much more effectively. So I agree with you 1,000% you've got to make those things clear. You have to understand as an organization, what that is too, right? You have to be very intentional about this process. It's not something you can wing. You have to know what the culture is. You have to know what your values are, and you have to know what your offerings are and what success looks like at the various offering levels.

Sarah Nicastro: That makes sense.

Michael Solomon: I would just add to that, that I think that many of these service roles, there's not a natural progression for a whole cohort of people to move up the corporate ladder. I don't think that works when you need that many service people. And part of what I think companies are going to need to do is recognize that some people will be able to move up and others will not going to be able to advance them. Either we're going to be able to retain them by creating very specific retention bonuses that are, if you're here at the end of your third year, you get this. And if you're near your fifth year, you get that or understand that there's going to be a degree of turnover, because that's the nature of where things are right now. And we're going to plan and constantly be looking and planning.

Michael Solomon: I mean, we started talking about what we're seeing happening right now, about three months ago. And it's very clear to see these trends and that's on a macro industry scale when you're dealing with the service industry and certain kinds of workers. You need to be reading the tea leaves and surveys are one way there's other data that's always being generated by industry leaders that's really important. And just going back to the survey for a second, the survey should be done in a way, if it's done well, well, you can tell that young people have different needs than people have been from a different generation. And what those are and how those and people who live in suburbs have different needs than being, that's part of a well-orchestrated survey so that what you get in terms of data really informs your next moves.

Sarah Nicastro: Makes sense. Okay. So Rishon, in the book you guys talk a lot about importance of trust. While that might seem like an obvious thing, I'm sure you wouldn't bring it up if it didn't get overlooked or under prioritized quite often. So talk to us a little bit about trust and why it's so important and maybe some of the reasons that it gets under prioritized or lost in the employee, employer relationship.

Rishon Blumberg: Yeah. I mean, we come at trust from the angle of what managers need to do in order to effectively manage people. And that's where that bond of trust comes into play specifically in the book. And what's so crucial about that is if you are a manager who instills that kind of trust and faith from your team, the type of management you can do is very, very different. If they don't trust you and you don't trust them, it's a whole different ball game from a management standpoint. So what we really talk about is ways that managers can develop trust and also what team members can do to bring that, to earn that trust. But one of the things obviously, and this is a natural thing, is to really stand up and fight for the people on your team and ensure that they get the things that they need when they need them.

Rishon Blumberg: We believe a manager's job is to provide an environment for the team to succeed, not necessarily to become an impediment themselves. We use the example. I can't actually remember if we use this specifically in the book, but I certainly talk about this frequently. If you remember the movie Office Space where you've got management floating around talking about TPS reports, and did you get the memo about the TPS reports? And you've got to come in over the weekend and they don't really care at all about who these people are. They're just cogs in the machine. And that's the old way of work. That doesn't work anymore. The people that are in your employee now are too important. Technology allows you to do more with less. So the people that you're working with, you have to value more highly because there aren't as many of you can't throw numbers at the problem.

Rishon Blumberg: So managers have to know who these people are and when you get to know somebody, you develop trust, when you're there for them day in and day out when you stand up for them, when you defend them, when you create an environment for them to succeed and do the best work that they can do, that builds trust and trust is a very, I think, underrated tool in business. There's a lot of backstabbing, there's a lot of political infighting and office politics, and that really undermines trust. Trust is about you showing up for somebody day in and day out. And when you don't, that trust bond is broken like this, and it's really hard to repair. So you can't really undervalue what trust means in the hierarchy of management and employment.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah. That's a good-

Michael Solomon: You build trust one drop at a time into the bucket and you lose it all when the bucket falls over, because you breached the trust, it's all gone and you're starting usually from even worse than from when you started.

Sarah Nicastro: I think it's really interesting because I think trusts to me really comes down to treating people the way you want to be treated. And so I do think that the pandemic gave us an element of greater humanity. And maybe an opportunity here to prioritize that a bit more going forward. And maybe that's just wishful thinking, but the other thing I wanted to point out Rishon based on that response is a PSA for people listening, which is don't focus so much on the recruitment of your frontline workers that you don't put equal, if not more focus on management, because you won't keep good hires if you don't have good managers.

Sarah Nicastro: And so, that's just something that can't be overemphasized, you're absolutely right. That's what makes or breaks all of this. Like you said, Michael, the culture has to be top down, but if your managers aren't carrying that out for you, then anything you can do to get good talent in the door is going to be-

Rishon Blumberg: You're going to lose them.

Sarah Nicastro: right.

Michael Solomon: Can I make one little subtle comment on treating people the way that you want to be treated? I think that's where we are coming from. And now we need to shift to treating people the way they want to be treated. That's the big difference, a golden rule versus the platinum rule, if you will.

Rishon Blumberg: And the key you to that not to jump in here is if you don't understand who these people are, if you don't have a sense of what is important to them, you can't do that. Yes, you may treat them the way you want to be treated, but they may not share the same values that you share. And they may be different things. You would treat somebody who's 27 that doesn't have kids differently than you would teach somebody who's 36, that has two kids. What they need is going to be different from what the other person needs. And so you have to try and meet them where they are not force them to come to meet you where you are.

Michael Solomon: And I just want to add the technology is also creating so much opportunity if people are willing to think outside of the box. So what we're talking about is customizing things to make it more flexible for the employees. So they can live the best life that they want to live, however they want to live. So if I were managing a big team and this is much easier, said than done, I'd look at Uber and say, "Wait a minute. All I hear from my team is that they want flexibility. So what if I make it that all of our employees use an app like Uber and set up their schedules."

Michael Solomon: And all of a sudden, we going to have surge pricing because no one wants to work this Saturday and overnight shifts. So we're going to pay a little bit more. And then all of a sudden people want that. And the whole idea that you could create within your infrastructure and get out of the well, I need you to be working 40 hours a week and I needed to like yeah. Make it so that it could be really flexible and it works. And it's not at the detriment of the company. There's ways to do things that are so different than whatever what came before them.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah. I think that's a good point. I mean, creativity is a really important aspect of tackling this problem, not only in evolving the job descriptions and the way that you present them to people, but to your point, the job itself. Like, are there legacy criteria that just aren't super relevant anymore? Is there things that are holding people back from taking these positions that maybe you need to find a resolution to? I mean, there's yeah. Thinking outside of the box is an important,

Michael Solomon: Yeah. The working in the office thing is that is the thing that just completely changed because of an outside input, but there was no reason that it needed a pandemic to cause that change, innovative companies were already doing that. And when you think about all of the areas that change can happen, we've barely started scratching the surface and you just opt to not allow, well, that's not how we've done it, or that's not how it's done where that's not, that should never be the reason for anything that can be for a reason for why did we do it that way? But that's it.

Sarah Nicastro: I think too, it just made me think, Michael, that you need to look not only at your competitive set, but far outside of it for inspiration on how to be creative. Like you said, the innovative company is already doing it. Well, if you're someone listening to this podcast, that's really struggling with hiring, now, again, I'm not trying to minimize that this is a real proven challenge. Like we're not talking about, you're not trying hard enough. That's why you're not finding them. There is a gap, but you still have to do whatever you can do to do your part to close it. Don't just look at what's the other biggest HPAC company doing to get talent? But look at Amazon and look at some of the companies that are having success and that doesn't mean everything they do, you can do, but that's part of the creative process of getting some inspiration and understanding better what's important to those candidates.

Sarah Nicastro: Okay. I want to talk about the criticality of setting clear expectations. I think for our audience, this is particularly important because those expectations are evolving in many instances. And so even for the existing talent, there's a shift in what that role can look like and what is desired. But let's talk a little bit about why and how expectation management is so important. So Rishon, do you want to take that one?

Rishon Blumberg: Sure. You can't really succeed at something if you don't know what the expectations are. So until a company can clearly explain to somebody what the expectations are that person can't really meet or exceed those expectations. And we look at expectations setting and delivering on expectations as a form of trust building. This is all part of building that trust in the person either that you're managing or the person you're delivering something to. And so if it's not super clear what those expectations are and what success looks like, then you're going to see failure more often than not. Because again, you're not meeting them where they are and you're not treating them with the golden rule or the platinum rule. So that to us is an element of building trust is understanding what the expectations are clearly explaining them. Also trying to elicit from the person that you're managing or the person that is your manager what it means to be successful in a given role.

Rishon Blumberg: Even before you start setting expectations of specific project-based needs, what does success look like? Manager, what will it look like for me to be successful in your eyes? And also getting a lot of feedback when expectations aren't met, it's very easy for people to make excuses or sweep things under the rug, or maybe play the blame game. 10x-ers people who are high achievers, don't do that. What they do is they get feedback, they try to solicit from people, either what went right or what went wrong, because you want to learn from those things. So the next time the expectation is set. You have a better sense of what success looks like.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah. And I think from an employer perspective, there's nothing more frustrating than ambiguity and not knowing what it is you're working towards. So not only failure or even if not failure, that frustration that you're causing is a problem.

Rishon Blumberg: People want to succeed. So if you can't explain to them what success looks like, they're not going to be happy.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah.

Michael Solomon: And it has to be measurable. It's got to be something that you can measure.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah, absolutely. And I think hand in hand with expectation management is another theme you guys talk a lot about in your content, which is empowerment. And I would say in many instances in our industries, empowerment is something that has been lacking particularly in some of the frontline roles. Again, it's more of you're an employee. You clock in and do this job. You go home, et cetera, using service strategically changes that whole relationship with that talent has to change because it's no longer that type of vibe. It's more, hey, we're relying on you to build the customer relationships. You need to be a trusted advisor, et cetera.

Rishon Blumberg: You're an ambassador in the field.

Sarah Nicastro: Exactly. And so if these companies want to have talent that will take that on, there has to be an element of hiring good people in setting clear expectations, but then giving them the latitude to do it in a way that is authentic to them. So Michael, do you want to talk a little bit about empowerment?

Michael Solomon: Yeah. I was actually going to use an example that I think I read about, and we knew somebody who was involved, but in near New York City Parks Department, at some point in '2000s went from whatever system they were to saying, "You employ on this part of the park and you own this part of the park and you own this part of the park, it's your responsibility." And this is whatever the specifics were. And the parks turned around because people were taking pride in "This is mine." And they were looking at somebody else's and it was so empowering to those employees who before were just like, "You mow the lawn over there, you mow the lawn over there," it allowed for a complete transformation.

Michael Solomon: And it also allowed not only did it empower them to do the job and see the result, but I think it gave them a sense of ownership in a way that never would have happened with the prior model. And that's not necessarily perfectly applicable to field service teams. But I think the idea that you get out of that is really important. And again, technology, I don't want to keep coming back to this, but we happen to represent technology. Technology is making it so much easier to do these things well, so this is creepy, so it's not the right example, but when the person showed up at Rishon's house to fix the cable or do whatever they were doing, there is no reason that that database couldn't have said, "Wife, Isabel," that's risky to say, how's your wife because maybe you got divorced, but the whole idea that you could create a system that allows for a little bit, the last person was here on this date, and this is what they did.

Michael Solomon: And is that holding up well? And all of these things that are just so easy, if you make them, if you build them into your systems to make things seem so much more personalized and also if you're the person who's delivering that information, you get to have a different level of engagement with your customer.

Sarah Nicastro: Mh-mm-hmm (affirmative). Exactly. I think the parks example is a good one. And I think that while that might not be completely transferable to the examples we're talking about the very first podcast we recorded was with Otis Elevator and it was 120 ish episodes ago. But what stands out in my mind from that is the gentleman I was interviewing said that they look at their frontline field technicians as the company's most treasured resource. And I thought that was really smart because they recognize that in an organization that's trying to use service strategically that is often the face of your brand. And there's a lot of power in that experience. There's also a lot of insight that those employees gain from those experiences that can be very valuable in setting strategy or deploying technology.

Sarah Nicastro: And so, this idea of not just giving them a sense of ownership because you think it might be important to them, or it might help them work harder, but really valuing that relationship and that input I think is a really good point. Okay. I have already gone over time and talk long enough, but to close let me ask you guys each one more question. Rishon, anything that we haven't talked about today, or to summarize a most important point, what would you give as a last key piece of advice when it comes to finding, hiring and retaining top talent?

Rishon Blumberg: This is something we have talked about, but I want to underscore it again. And it's the idea of the top-down mentality that you can have managers that are great, but if it doesn't come from the top down, it is not something that is going to be practice company-wide and it's not going to be practiced day in and day out. And culture being so important today, you're going to lose employees if you don't live the culture at every level. So to me, that's the biggest takeaway. I think of all companies at this stage of the game is you really have to lead from the top down. People need to see the head of the company, the C-suite, really living by the same ethics and values that they expect the lower level, subordinates and or other team members and talent at the organization to live by.

Sarah Nicastro: Okay, good. Michael, what would you say is the biggest trend in the next, we'll say one, three, five years, whatever you think that people need to be preparing for related to how we work and that will impact hiring?

Michael Solomon: I'm sorry to say that I think the biggest trend is the jobs are going to continue to evaporate at record numbers and an accelerating pace.

Rishon Blumberg: You mean automation? Due to automation?

Michael Solomon: ... of automation and AI. And we're having a moment right now where people are being very selective about jobs because they can be, and I suspect this is one of the last moments that that's going to happen. And as a society, and I'm going very deep with this, we actually really need to think about how are we going to, two problems are going to keep people out of poverty and what are people going to do with their time, talent and energy when there's no longer a full-time job that's available for everybody? And those are fairly existential questions that are not super helpful to a manager. But I think those are very big trends. And I certainly think mission-driven work is becoming more and more and more relevant and important. And the more you can figure out how your company connects to people's missions, the better you're going to do in hiring and retaining and managing.

Sarah Nicastro: Mh-mm-hmm (affirmative). Okay. All right. Well thank you both very much, Rishon, can you tell our listeners where they could find more about 10x and Game Changer the book?

Rishon Blumberg: I can do that, Sarah.

Sarah Nicastro: Thank you.

Rishon Blumberg: is a website that we have that has a lot of information on the book. It has a bunch of content there. It also has a fun quiz that you can take to see where you fall on the 10x spectrum. How 10x you are as an individual. And you can also take it on behalf of your company to see how 10x they are. And all of our contact information is there as well, LinkedIn, Medium, et cetera.

Sarah Nicastro: Awesome. Well, thank you both very much. I enjoyed the conversation. I'll probably have to have you back at some point if you're willing, because I have a whole list of follow-up questions already, so.

Rishon Blumberg: Love it.

Sarah Nicastro: Thanks for being there.

Michael Solomon: Thanks Sarah.

Rishon Blumberg: Thanks so much.

Sarah Nicastro: All right. Thank you. You can check out more of our content on You can also find us on LinkedIn as well as Twitter @TheFutureOfFS. The Future of Field Service podcast is published in partnership with IFS. You can learn more about IFS Technology at As always, thank you for listening.