Adam Robinson Joins Us On The Steve Jobs Inspired Join Up Dots Podcast
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Introducing Adam Robinson
Adam Robinson is our guest today, on the Steve Jobs inspired Join Up Dots free podcast interview.
He is the co-founder and CEO of Hireology.
His mission to help business owners make better hiring decisions using predictive data and innovative technology.
What this means, as far as I can see, and I am sure that our guest will tell me I am right or wrong on the show is instead of sitting down with someone and using the gut feeling of “I like this person, I could see them doing a good job in this company” you attract the right people by using cutting edge technology.
Sending job positions through to mobile phones, attracting potential employees to your own bespoke company job board, wannabe employees do a series of tailored tests before even stepping foot in your business.
You have the ability to take much of the manpower away from finding the good guys.
And with old style hiring processes sitting at a miserable 50% success rate in finding the type of employees and company really wants then…you can see his mission to change things is needed across the world.
How The Dots Joined Up For Adam
Now personally you can see that today’s guest has always been driven to change things for the better, he is nothing but driven (and of course very very busy it seems)
After living in suburban Atlanta for 10 years, his family moved to the suburbs of Chicago in 1990 where he graduated from Crystal Lake South High School in 1994.
He then received his Bachelor of Arts degree with a double-major in History and Communications from the University of Illinois before earning a master’s degree in business administration from DePaul University, where he serves on the Board of Advisors for the Coleman Entrepreneurship Center.
In 2010, he even placed himself as a Republican nominee and challenged for the Illinois Senate, representing the 7th district in the Chicago area.
So where did he ignite his passion for changing the futures of people, through either job recruitment or in the wider political sense?
And did he struggle like most entrepreneurs to get the ball rolling, or was the need he was aiming to fill simply crying out for his skills?
Well lets find out as we bring onto the show to start joining up dots with the one and only Mr Adam Robinson.
During the show we discussed such weighty topics with Adam Robinson such as:
Adam recalls the times in his life when he had no money, scrabbled around for two cents in his life, and shares why it is was so fun to be creative with his decisions at this time.
We talk about the times when a business goes wrong, and why more often than not looking back you can clearly see the mistakes that can be learned from.
Why Adam is a firm believer that there are no decisions that define your life. Make the decision, move forward and learn from what went wrong and right.
We discuss how even the greatest product is quite simply a dead duck without marketing involved, and why this doesn’t need to cost a lot of money.
How To Connect With Adam Robinson
Or if you prefer just pop over to our podcast archive for thousands of amazing episodes to choose from.
Full Transcription Of Adam Robinson Interview
When we’re young, we have an amazing positive outlook about how great life is going to be. But somewhere along the line we forget to dream and end up settling. Join Up Dots features amazing people who refuse to give up and chose to go after their dreams. This is your blueprint for greatness. So here’s your host live from the back of his garden in the UK, David Ralph.
David Ralph [0:25]
Yes, hello there. Good morning to you all and welcome to another edition of Join Up Dots yet the motivational conversation and a little bit inspirational show where we take the movers and shakers across the globe. And we we join up the dots we see the steps that they have taken some knowingly some unwittingly stumbles and bores, failures and successes to get to where they are today. And today’s guest on the show is the co founder and CEO of hydrology, he’s mission to help business owners make better hiring decisions using predictive data and innovative technology. Now what this means as far as I can see, and I’m sure that our guests will tell me if I’m right or wrong on the show, is instead of sitting down with someone and using the gut feeling of this person, I could see them doing a good job in this company, you attract the right people by using cutting edge technology, sending job positions through to mobile phones, attracting potential employees to your own bespoke company job board want to be employees do a series of tailored tests, before even stepping foot in your business, you have the ability to take much of the manpower away from finding the good guys. And with old star hiring processes. Sitting at a miserable 50% success rate in finding the type of employees any company really wants. You can see his mission to change things is needed across the world. Now personally, you can see that today’s guest has always been driven to change things for the better. He’s nothing but driven. And of course, very, very busy seems after living in suburban Atlanta for 10 years, his family moved to the suburbs of Chicago in 1990, where he graduated from Crystal Lake South High School in 1994. He then received his Bachelor of Arts degree with a double major in history and communications from the University of Illinois, before earning a master’s degree in business administration from DePaul University, where he serves on the board of advisors but a Coleman entrepreneurship centre, that in 2010, even placed himself as a Republican nominee and challenge for the Illinois senate representing the seventh district in the Chicago area. So where where did he ignite his passion for changing the futures of people through either job recruitment, or in the wider political sense? And did he struggle like most entrepreneurs to get the ball rolling? Or was the need he was aiming to build simply crying out for his skills? Well, let’s find out as we bring onto the show, to start joining up dots with the one and only Mr. Adam Robinson.
Adam M Robinson [2:41]
Good morning, Adam is doing great. Thanks for having me on it. Glad to be here. David.
David Ralph [2:47]
It is great to have you on you are one of those kind of people you think where the hell do we go with this conversation? He’s, there’s there’s a few things on your plate isn’t there?
Adam M Robinson [2:56]
You have a few things going on right now. But we’re having fun.
David Ralph [3:00]
Are you somebody that looks for fun in business? Or do you look for the catching, catching? Is it money that drives you? Is it status? Or is it fun?
Adam M Robinson [3:09]
It’s absolutely fun and sense of accomplishment. It’s, you know, if I if there’s a problem to be solved, the reward is solving it. The money comes from that. I mean, my business is just turning customer pain in the in the cash flow at the end of the day. But that’s not that’s not why I’m doing it. It’s, it’s fun to solve the problem and the money comes in. That’s not that’s not why I’m doing this.
David Ralph [3:34]
And you, it’s as simple as that is it for all the listeners out there, if I can find a problem that needs to be solved? I don’t have to worry about the technicalities as such, they just have to solve that problem and the money will come.
Adam M Robinson [3:46]
That’s, that’s correct. I think it is maybe getting a little wonky on the business side. But all business model is, is the transfer of customer pain into cash flow. And your business model dictates how fast that happens. And whether or not it’s enough to grow a sustainable business and in the fun is figuring out the model. But the goal is not making as much money as you can at least not for me the goal is making the machine work. That’s what’s fun.
David Ralph [4:16]
But can you say that now Adam, because you’re not sort of sitting in a cardboard box you know, you’ve got you’ve got a house, you’ve got a family everything so of all right in your life. If you was sort of scrapping around for the pennies, maybe you would be going no money is all important. Money is where he’s at. That’s what I’m aiming for.
Adam M Robinson [4:32]
Well, but but I’ve been I’ve been that I’ve been there. You know, it’s, it’s it’s the same attitude. It makes it easier. I think money makes things easier. It gives you more options, but it doesn’t make that you happier doesn’t make me I’m no happier or less happy than I bet I was. When I was scraping two nickels together. There’s no difference.
David Ralph [4:55]
So So tell us about those times when you were scraping two nickels together was it Because you, you haven’t got going, you haven’t focused Why were you sort of on different times?
Adam M Robinson [5:07]
What it makes in my personal experience mean starting a business is first the process of deciding that you’re willing to invest absolutely everything that you have to make this idea work. And, and I remember the moment of saying, Okay, this is it, I’m going to leave this perfectly stable, well paying job, I’m going to sell everything that I have, I’m going to sell the condo, I’m going to liquidate everything that has any value, I’m going to pile it all, put it in the bank, and I figure I got about nine months to make this thing work. Or I’m, you know, I can always go get another job. And it was it was fun. That was that was the fun part it, I never been somebody that likes to spend money frivolously or, or display success in finances or anything like that. So for me, it was just about, do I have the resources to actually execute this idea. And that was incredibly exciting for me. And, and I think that mentality has stayed, we just have more resources to work with. So we can do more things, we can solve bigger problems. We can do it more efficiently. We can do it on a larger scale, but it’s still fun.
David Ralph [6:18]
And how old were you when you was doing this? Because there’s gonna be a lot of people out there going, I bet. I bet you wouldn’t do it now as a family. Man, I bet you wouldn’t do it because you had kids, when you were sort of like selling everything and, and putting it all into the investment. How old were you?
Adam M Robinson [6:32]
Well, so I, when I started, I was 26. That was my last business which which actually ended in a fairly spectacular failure. So that the end of that story is it didn’t work. And then you know, so in 20 2010, I’ve we married we have our first son.
David Ralph [6:53]
Things have stabilised again, and I decided to do it all over again and take another shot at it. Why? Why when when it exploded in front of you and all your hopes and dreams went up? Had you learned enough in the process to see what you’ve done wrong? Or were you just flippant that you could drive through any obstacle that come your way?
Adam M Robinson [7:14]
But I think I think it was both I just think this this is this is what I was born to do. It’s what’s what my passion and skill set as I enjoy it. I like building things. And there was I’m not going to do anything else. And so it was one more thing to just say, okay, that did work. I’ve learned a lot. I have ideas about other problems that need to be solved. Let’s get at it. Let’s pick the best one and go and and do it again. And you know, and do it again and do it again.
David Ralph [7:43]
And then what was the business? And why did it fail? Because it seems to me now but more businesses are right. But the knowledge base of the person isn’t right at the time. 10 years later, they can almost look back and go, I tell you what, I could get that going now I could see what I did wrong. So what was the business?
Adam M Robinson [8:00]
Well, that’s exactly right. Well, the business was outsourced recruitment services. So companies would hire our company to be their internal recruiting department. And we were fortunate early on to land one of the fastest growing companies in in the United States. At the time, as, as one of our customers, I learned a valuable lesson in customer concentration, they were something like 70% of our revenue. And the business was doing great, you know, we bootstrapped it. We had grown to about 40 employees, things were going well, we were profitable, life was great. And then the global recession hit in 2008. And, you know, I tell you what, there are a lot of businesses that weren’t fun to be in being in the recruiting business in 2008 was in 2009, was just maybe the last place in the world, you wanted to be in business. And we lost something like 75% of our revenue in 90 days. And so I’m sitting there with 40 employees a month from Christmas, just having lost 75% of our revenue. And of course, all of the financing we had with the bank was tied to receivables, which all started to age because every business was doing poorly. So everyone started stretching payments out. So the line of credit went upside down. And this cascade of crap started happening where it’s like, well, now I’ve got to layoff 80% of my staff, which means I have to fire a bunch of unprofitable customers because I can’t service them, which means it’s even harder to pay the bank, which makes the bank even more aggressive about collecting. And it was just this vicious downward cycle. And it probably took me two years to triage that situation and get it stable. But I learned a lot and I look back now you know the second business that I started here higher ology I just remember thinking, Okay, well I’m going to start this business. I’m not going to have receivables never doing that. Again, everyone’s paying with credit cards. I’m going to make people paying in advance, I’m not going to have thousands of small customers, not a handful of large ones, because I never want someone to kick the leg of the chair out from under me and have the thing fall over again. And so this second time around, it was all the, you know, all the things that happened, that was a punch in the face, you just figure Okay, well, let’s not do that, again, that model didn’t work. And you learn from it. And you know, I’ve made those mistakes, as similar mistakes, different mistakes. And then the next time I do it, I’ll learn from those. But it’s it’s a process.
David Ralph [10:29]
Now, as she was talking, I had an image of you on a bar somewhere in Chicago, late at night, lined up in front of you empty glasses, flicking peanut shells at the at the bottom. And at the far end and very feeling despondent and depressed. And why me? Why me? You must have gone through that phase. How did you pull yourself out? Did you have a support group around you? Are you somebody that just sees the bright side of life?
Adam M Robinson [10:57]
I think well, so. So yes, I had those moments. But for me, you know, you, I forced myself to snap out of it, because no one’s going to solve my problem, but me. So I can’t sit there and wallow in it that just dig a deeper hole. So snap right out of it. I had incredibly supportive family. I mean, I had a I had a 12 month old son, I couldn’t mess around, I couldn’t feel sorry for myself, it was it was the realisation that no one’s going to solve this problem at me, I have to do it. People are counting on me Get your shit together, and get out there and make something happen. And
David Ralph [11:33]
that’s what I’m gonna jump in at and that that’s really strong willed, isn’t it? Because most people will go help me help me and play the victim card. But you didn’t do that at all?
Adam M Robinson [11:45]
Well, so it was entirely my fault. I you know, there wasn’t it was a victim of my own poor decision making and planning. And, you know, acknowledging that is, is really the first thing it’s like, Okay, well, I kind of screwed that up. Now what now we’re gonna do about it. Explain to the people that are close to me that this is what’s happening. Explain that, that I’ve got a plan to get out of this, ask for their support, and just keep moving. So my wife, my family, fully, fully supportive, and really didn’t ever lose faith in the fact that success is possible. And it was just Okay, let’s let’s keep moving. I mean, I just didn’t stay in that spot for very long, I think. I think there were there were some moments but you know, less less than three or four days of that. And then I was off to the next thing.
David Ralph [12:35]
I went up to work one day, um, the investment bank in London that was working and I hated it. I really hated it every second of every day, but it was paying very, very good money. And I walked in one lunchtime, and I only had to do the afternoon. And within 20 minutes, I was redundant. A day replaced me. And there was no clue coming up to it. And as I walked home, I thought, Oh, my God, what’s my life gonna be like, Oh, my God, what can I do? I’ve got all these bills to pay. And I got up the next morning. And I think it’s the only time ever I put a dressing gown on. And I put a dressing gown on I had my slippers on I didn’t show up and I sat on the sofa. And I must have been there for about 90 minutes. Until my wife said, right, that’s enough. That’s enough, right? Put yourself together, get out, bam. And you know, get yourself together. and away you go. So did you have it? Did you have a kicker? Did you have a kicker who could put you around a place But you knew they were right when they were they were booting you.
Adam M Robinson [13:29]
I had a colleague of mine,
a guy named al Wasser Berger, actually, who lives in New York who was uh, it was a very successful entrepreneur. And I explained to him that you know, what had happened in the business, and that I was trying to fix it. And, and he looked at me and he goes, why don’t you just quit? And I said, Well, what are you talking about? And he said, Well, listen, you know, all you have is your time and your energy, and you never get more time back. So have you asked the question is what I was what I’m doing worth saving? And I said, Well, no, what do you mean? He said, Well, have you ever thought that you could work as hard as you can, in this business just is never going to be that successful? Because it’s just not a model that’s ever going to work? And I said, God, I had really thought about that. What? So what do I do? And he said, I want you to draw a line in the sand. I want you to look out six months, you draw a line in the sand. And you say, if I don’t do X, Y, and Z, six months from now, right, revenue number, profitability number, customer acquisition number, name, the metrics, but you draw a line in the sand and you bust your ass to make that happen. And if you don’t get there, I want you to promise me you’re going to quit and do something else. And I drew the line. I busted my ass. by God. I did not get there. He was right. The business just wasn’t ever going to be successful because the model didn’t work. And so I quit, right, I sold the book of business to another company, I sat there for a year on a contract going to work for someone else, again, to just get my feet back out from under me. And 366 days later, when that contract was up, I walked out the door and started my next company. And if Allah had not taken the time to put his foot in my rear end, and force me to look at it the way he did, I might still be toiling away breaking rocks in a business that was just never going to be profitable. And I you know, I’m very, very grateful to him for that.
David Ralph [15:38]
We do all need an owl, don’t we? We all need somebody to just honestly boot us around, because it’s nice surrounding yourself with virtual friends that go Oh, yeah, great, Adam. Oh, you’re wonderful. Oh, it’s gonna come out. All right. But that’s not what you need. In terms like that is a realism wins every day.
Adam M Robinson [15:57]
Real realism wins, objectivity wins, you’ve got to step outside the situation, because I what I found was so emotionally attached to the business, and just really refusing to quit, because that’s not something I like to do. And when, you know, somebody looks at it, and says, Look, man, you just got to walk away from this, do something else with your time that’s going to yield a much better result. That that was, that was an experience, it really changed my perspective.
David Ralph [16:25]
So looking at yours, you as a wider saint, you are somebody that is you like change, you can see that you drive change you instil change, was that always with you, even as a small kid, were you somebody that, you know, like the changing of the seasons, usually like the changing of school lessons, where did that come from?
Adam M Robinson [16:47]
Well, so when I was in, I was probably 13 years old, our family moved from the southeastern United States in Atlanta up to Chicago. And the change was so big and so abrupt, culturally, that, I think it just forced me to get to know myself very quickly and adapt very quickly. And I liked it. I mean, I love the experience, it really made a difference for me, and I’ve shared that with my family. I mean, I, I was pretty, pretty stable and happy. And, you know, going through life, and everything was great. And then you know, you move, you move everything and everything changes, and you have to adapt that experience was really the first time I looked at this and said, Okay, I can either, you know, bemoan the circumstance that I’ve just lost all my friends, and I’m starting at a new high school and things are weird. Or I can embrace it and get to know people and make the most of this and see the opportunity in this change. And, you know, that’s, I think the first experience I had where that really was, the opportunity
David Ralph [17:49]
is closure, isn’t it of your old life, you can reinvent yourself, I think it’s a lot easier. I used to be a corporate manager. And one of the things when people would transfer to a different department, quite often they want you to sit at the same desk. And I used to say to him note, you go to a different desk, people got to see you differently. You’ve got to close that live and move on to the next one. I was very big on that. And a lot of times people try to sort of hang on to what they’ve got, there is a clearing of life, friends, situations that’s needed to be done sometime, isn’t it, but people do claim to what they’ve got already.
Adam M Robinson [18:26]
They do. Because I think, you know, the trap I can fall into is that I like certainty. I mean, that’s just I’m wired. Ironically, maybe paradoxically to like certainty. And if if I don’t have that certainty, I create that certainty. Sometimes I create that certainty by changing the situation, right to some situation that I know is, is that that I can control or this more certain that can that can have positive outcomes that could have negative outcomes. But the change I’m not afraid of, it’s really more about it’s a control issue more than a change issue. So I feel like I’ve got a handle on it, I’m in good shape. If I don’t, then I’m going to change the circumstance.
David Ralph [19:07]
Let’s play some words that sort of summarise that quite nicely. Is Oprah
Oprah Winfrey [19:11]
the way through the challenge is to get still and ask yourself, what is the next right move? not think about, Oh, I got all of this too. But what is the next right move? And then from that space, make the next right move, and the next right move and not to be overwhelmed by it? Because you know, your life is bigger than that one moment. You know, you’re not defined by what somebody says, is a failure for you. Because failure is just there to point you in a different direction.
David Ralph [19:43]
Pretty good words adamantly
Adam M Robinson [19:45]
that it’s it’s exactly I mean, that’s so nicely describes how I think about decision making and opportunities. It’s no single decision is the sum total of your life. It’s one decision at Time and you want to make the best decision with the information you have. It’s like, we just heard make, make that next right move. And if it’s wrong, correct it make a better move, right and then make a better one, it’s absolutely applies.
David Ralph [20:12]
In the world, generally people like decisions to be made. For them, I was just having an interview with a couple who have created an online profile, which is amazing. And I used to be teachers. And then I realised that I’d given the power away to other people, and their life was somebody else’s. So they took it back, created their own online platform, and away they go. They’re making every single decision. But it all started from that one decision of Hang on, who’s going to be in charge of our own lives. A lot of people don’t like that, though, Adam. So what makes you different from maybe half the audience who are listening in at the moment, who will listen to podcast after podcast after podcast, but still go through the same routines day in day out?
Adam M Robinson [20:56]
Well, I like to talk a lot about this in my my business every day with our customers. And it’s this notion of this locus of control, which is a psychology term, it basically describes the degree to which you believe that the things that happen in your life, good or bad, are due to actions and decisions that you make good or bad, you can have an internal locus of control, or an external locus of control, and someone with an internal locus of control says things in their head, like, wow, I could have done a much better job executing that decision, I’ll do better. Next time I’ve learned from that mistake, someone with an external locus of control would say, they didn’t give me the opportunity to be my best, right. And so when when you have an external locus of control, you give your power away to other people or circumstances. And there is no way that I’m going to go through my life giving away my power and control to third parties that have no vested interest or stake in my outcome not going to happen. So I’m it I’m going to have an internal locus of control my own my results. And in when I started embracing that as as a mindset is really where I started to see more success because mistakes are completely overcome Abul, if you own your mistake, and decide to do the next thing a little bit better.
David Ralph [22:23]
So you all now the co founder and CEO of higher ology, which is rocking and rolling is doing great stuff. And what’s my explanation in the intro? Was that about right? Is this how he operates?
Adam M Robinson [22:35]
It is Yeah, hydrology is a software platform that helps owner operated businesses primarily in the franchise, industry and dealer networks. Like car dealerships be great at the people side of their business, we give managers everything they need to build a great team. And we’re in business, because most managers just aren’t very good at that. And so we provide the toolset to help them be good at that.
David Ralph [22:58]
And how did this idea come to you it was it was a part of learning from experience, seeing because it seems similar to like the first thing that he was doing?
Adam M Robinson [23:07]
Well, so the first thing I did that was a service business. And the issue in that company and why the model didn’t work is because our customers absolutely sucked at interviewing and hiring people. So they would hire us to generate these pools of candidates that we’d submit to them. And the managers of these companies would have no idea how to do the interviewer pick people. And I would inevitably get the phone call that said, Hey, Adam, this programme isn’t working. And I would say, Well, wait a second, we are giving you great applicants, your managers aren’t following a process. So I built a system. It was just a paper based system, a series of interview guides and scorecards I gave to our customers to help them manage the output that they were buying from us. And our customers started calling me saying the system is great. Can I buy this from you? And I said, Absolutely not. It was what makes us unique that thanks for being a customer, well, then then when the recession hit the whole value proposition inverted. And and we went from an economy here in the United States, where businesses were struggling to find one good person to temp 12% unemployment, where businesses had 500 applicants for every one job. And so now the problem became processing. And so I decided, Well, okay, I’m going to get out of the service business. And I’m going to be in a product business that helps automate and streamline this. And I’m going to use the system that everybody tried to buy for me and my last company, and that’s where higher ology came from. So the failure of that business model was our customers didn’t have the skill set to really be successful with the business that they were getting from us. And I took that to create a system that helped them be successful. And so from that failure came higher ology, and that’s led to success.
David Ralph [24:44]
So you basically saw something that was going wrong in the marketplace, always going wrong and solved it solved it in something that is time efficient. It’s easy to use, and people can really sort of tap into it and it takes the pressure Person personality away from hiring would that be right?
Adam M Robinson [25:03]
It’s it’s correct this and there really is true. It’s it sounds cliche, it’s not it’s absolutely the most important concept in business, the only way you’re going to be successful if you save people time or save people money, that’s it. And I found that this actually did both things. And when you do both of those things, when you’re two for two, you’ve got a successful business model if you work at it.
David Ralph [25:26]
Because we were talking recently on the show about that mindset that suddenly switches on, as you say, the convenience saves people time saves people money, people can create a business by going over to YouTube or Google and all the information is there if you want it. But still people are still willing to pay if it comes together in a package. And that is a big mindset that people have to get over when they’re creating something that I feel that they almost feel that they’ve got to create the new something karatbar. But why don’t they just have to almost package what’s already out there? And there’s enough customers to go around? Would you see the same?
Adam M Robinson [26:02]
I absolutely do. We didn’t invent a human capital software, or recruiting software. I mean, this is a category that’s been around for 30 years. But there is a whole category of customer, that the existing solutions did not save them time or money, they were prohibitively expensive and cost them time it was hard to use. And so our approach was, well look, let’s build this in a way that actually provides daily utility value for this kind of customer and just focus on saving them time and saving the money through the process. And that’s led to success. It really it’s not been easy, but the concept is simple.
David Ralph [26:40]
And so well, what was the hard bit about getting it through because on this show, it almost seems like come up with an idea, got a bit of investment threw it out to the world and bang, but a product is only a product without marketing. So did you have word of mouth? Did you walk along the street handing out leaflets? How did you actually get it out to the market?
Adam M Robinson [27:02]
Well, you really nailed it. I mean, the best product and ideas doesn’t mean anything if you don’t have distribution. And well, so this was my approach, I would I would phone up HR leaders in growing mid sized companies, primarily technology companies. And I would say Hi, my name is Adam Robinson. I’m the CEO of hireology. We’re working on an innovative product in the market. And I am calling thought leaders in HR, like yourself to get your feedback, can you spend 10 minutes with me and let me know what you think of my idea. And I got something like a 60% positive response rate. And I would share the idea and people would inevitably ask probably half the time. So now we’re at about a 25% conversion rate is this for sale yet? This is pretty interesting. And and I and I just repeated that process for six months. And at the end of six months, we had 25 paying customers. And that was enough to go out to the venture capital community, raise some money and go and that was the beginning of it. But people at the end of the day, they want to help. They also want to leverage their experience and feel valued. And when you can call them and ask them for their help and to leverage their experience, they’re more than happy to help you. And they just also happen to be our target customers. So I got great feedback from very generous people that wanted to help and many of them bought it.
David Ralph [28:21]
I don’t do any coaching. Now without actually talking to the person beforehand. When I first started Join Up Dots, I created products that I I kind of hope Valley, they would just magically go out to the world, I’d make money while I slept. And I realised after probably about a year and a half to two years is far more successful by actually having a 15 to 20 minute Skype call one on one that the person can test you out and you can test them out before they ever buy into their product. So I don’t have any online products now, but I’m not involved in personally, and it’s become so much more successful. That’s what you’ve done, you’ve done that really well. But the people actually get a flavour of what you’re about. And they’re not just hiding behind a nameless product.
Adam M Robinson [29:06]
Well, people don’t buy software, they buy, they buy an outcome. And I want people to understand if they do business with us, we are going to deliver an outcome, the promise we make you give us your money, we deliver an outcome, the outcome is you’re going to build the best possible team you can build, you’re going to do it in less time. And you’re going to do it for less money. And so that’s the that’s the promise. And I just don’t know that I can make that promise successfully, completely arm’s length through digital marketing online. That’s just maybe 10 years ago, but but there’s just so much of that now. You’ve got to cut through the clutter. And I just philosophically think human relationships matter immensely. And that’s what has to be present for a business to really be successful today.
David Ralph [29:55]
I agree. I agree. Totally. So let’s hear some words now and then we’re going to jump back into your story again. But these are words that Steve Jobs said back in 2005. And Matt, the hugely inspirational to me, and to so many people as well, Steve Jobs,
Steve Jobs [30:10]
of course, it was impossible to connect the dots looking forward when I was in college. But it was very, very clear looking backwards 10 years later. Again, you can’t connect the dots looking forward, you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future, you have to trust in something, your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. Because believing that the dots will connect down the road, will give you the confidence to follow your heart, even when it leads you off the well worn path. And that will make all the difference.
David Ralph [30:44]
So I think what this episode has been about so far is basically decision making decision making at every stage of the process, personally and professionally. So when you hear those words, Adam, do they inspire you to be creative? Do you think Yeah, they’re exactly as my life is being led. However, they make you feel,
Adam M Robinson [31:04]
I, if they really resonate with me, David, the, and as I look back, I can see those dots. I you know, for me, I start with a vision of what I want to accomplish 2030 years from now I can see that I can see what life looks like I’ve actually written it down, it’s in in a in a notebook I keep, I know what that life looks like for me. And as I look back, and then I know that that’s as Steve Jobs just described, that they’re going to connect, I just don’t know what the dots are going to be. But I look back and in a few of those for me. I mean, it was the move from Atlanta to Chicago, it was it was the decision in college that I wanted to be a high school history teacher, it was the reality that there were no jobs available when I graduated. So the decision to take a job at an IT staffing company as a placeholder, the realisation that I liked that business, and that I wanted to work for a tech startup working for that tech startup that sold technology to dealer networks and franchise systems where I learned that business the realisation that I could be in business for myself, start the recruiting business, fail at that, but learn the real problem set, then launch a product into the customers that I learned in my first job with the the lessons learned from the failed business, I mean, I can all of those things line up, I can see it so clearly. And I can see that they line up on the right trajectory to get me where I want to go. And all I need to do is have the confidence in myself to know when it’s time to make that change and make the decision. And if there’s anything I’ve done, it’s been that it’s just be decisive. And being decisive. Took me time to get there. But it’s the most important skill set that I’ve developed.
David Ralph [32:43]
So being decisive being in control of your future is totally understandable. So why did you Ben throw yourself into the political arena, which is anything but and you know, stable, you’re literally having to convince people to like you vote for you get you into power? Well, what was that all about?
Adam M Robinson [33:03]
Well, I mean, it’s such a charged environment. Now it’s just it’s it’s really quite frustrating that we can’t have conversations that are rational anymore. But I was it was I was tired of being passive. I saw I saw primarily opportunities to improve the economic situation for for people in the in the city of Chicago through entrepreneurship. And I thought they were the policies were just stifling ideas and innovation and actually reducing the rate at which businesses were created. And I didn’t want to just shout at the television, I wanted to do something. So I said, Well, I’m going to run for this, there’s probably going to lose, but I don’t care. It’s going to give me a platform. And I’m going to I’m going to get a message out there and in some small way I can move the needle. And so I figured out how to do it. I just did it in that led to so many amazing relationships, and connection to the community and, and in relationships in the political circles. And I just learned so much about it. And I learned enough to know that now’s not that time for me. Right it being in politics is is basically the process of lighting your net worth on fire, and spending all your free time with strangers. And that’s not interesting to be right now I’m not at this is at the stage of life I met. So I know enough, I can make a difference in other ways. And when I’ve, when I’ve made my money and can be fully in control of how I spend my time, I can get back into what I’m really passionate about. And that’s, you know, making the world better for the people that I share it with. And there will be a time where we’re doing that again.
David Ralph [34:41]
There’s a Scottish comedian called Billy Connolly. And he always says for anybody that shows any indication of going into politics are the exact people that you should stop going into politics. He is and I i understand that totally because there’s so much ego involved, isn’t it? There’s so much that the real honest approach People that want to make a difference is kind of it works better at ground roots level, once you get up into the halls of power, what you wanted to do at the beginning, just gets bogged down in red tape somehow.
Adam M Robinson [35:14]
That’s correct. And so in business, that the exchange of value is save time and money. In politics, the exchange of value is is the is the transfer of power, and the accumulation of power. And the accumulation of power is not helpful to your constituents unless you use that power to improve their lives. And unfortunately, the observation I’ve made, and this is in the US, and in most political situations around the world is that power is used to accumulate even more power to the person. And that’s the problem with it. And maybe that’s a cynical view of it. But it’s just that that for me is not where I want to be spending my time right now. And you know, I want to create value, I don’t want to accumulate power, that’s just not, that’s not what I’m interested in. But if you know, if you don’t have the power, you can’t impact the change. And so you have to play that game, if you’re going to be successful in politics. I’m not interested in playing that game.
David Ralph [36:13]
So looking back at those words, for Steve Jobs, what would be the big.in your life when everything comes together? We asked the same question to literally every person who comes on the show, but what would be your big thought? When you look back on your life? You think, yeah, that that probably was when everything started leading towards where I am now.
Adam M Robinson [36:33]
It was it was the birth of our first son. And and the realisation that, okay, I can I need to be much more intentional about the decisions I make, I can’t just move from thing to thing, I really have to dig in and apply myself to the one best idea at a time and I’m and I can be wrong. But being wrong has implications. So I better I better tighten my game up, I really just need to be better. And for me, that was the moment and I can remember it vividly. Right? Just thought this has got to work, I got people count on me.
David Ralph [37:10]
And then does that. So build undue pressure on your does it actually make it easier when you’ve got those responsibilities, and you’re not the lone wolf just going through it on your own.
Adam M Robinson [37:22]
For some, it might not for me, it did. It’s, I just I think, for me for forcing constraints, produces focus and result. So I can spray my energy all over the place and do lots of different things and have fun, or I can do one thing really well and have fun. And and I’ve learned that doing the one thing really, really well produces a much better result on the trajectory that I want to achieve than just pursuing every interest simultaneously and having fun with it, but never actually getting anywhere. And the family is the constraint that forced me to focus. And that it was inspiring. It was it was absolutely inspiring and motivating.
David Ralph [38:08]
And so what is your one thing, man, Adam, the thing that you do better than anything else, and really drives your 8020 you get the majority of your results from doing it.
Adam M Robinson [38:18]
I think I understand the problem in the market. And I think I know how to marshal the resources and put the right people in place to go solve that problem. And I’ve learned that I don’t have to do everything actually, the less I do, the more successful we are in so I just if I can give away the opportunity to others to pursue it together. We’re all successful. And I think I’m good at at that that that that problem identification, resource marshalling right person, right seat, business model creation. I just I love it. It’s fun for me. And I’ve found that I’m pretty good at it.
David Ralph [38:59]
I worked for a guy many, many years ago, and he was never in the office. He was never in the office. He was just on the golf course all the time. And I once bumped into him. And I said to him, you know, you’ve got a good life, you’re never here. And he said, I’m not here because I know the right thing to do. And I said what’s the right thing and he said, not be here. And he basically bases our office on getting the right people in to compliment his weaknesses, basically, and he just swung around. But when he did come in, he would come into the boardroom, he would sit there and what he came out with was absolute gold. You know, it was like, he had six weeks of thinking time where in an office environment, you’re getting bombarded, and he actually was more successful because of the fact that he was on the golf course allowing his brain to compute what needed to be done. Fascinating. Really.
Adam M Robinson [39:48]
It is it’s interesting. And this is the very famous book, The founders dilemma. It’s a it’s a classic. And the question these researchers asked is, you know, as the entrepreneur Do you want to be rich or do you You want to be king, because you cannot be both. And it turns out the value of your asset that you’re building, the business asset is directly related to the degree to which you give away responsibility in in management of that business. So if you want to be in control of everything, you can do that. But you’re going to have a small company with a worse outcome. If you want to build an asset that’s worth the most possible amount of money, right? Build the most valuable asset, you’ve got to just start giving it away. And you’ll have a smaller piece of a much bigger opportunity. And though that lesson has just proven so true for me over the years,
David Ralph [40:39]
right, okay, well, just before we send you back in time on the Sermon on the mic, to have a one on one with your younger self joining up the dots of your life, what’s going forward, if you could take those dots that we’ve been looking back on and move them forward? What is the plan in Adams life?
Adam M Robinson [40:57]
for, for me, higher, ology is my sole focus. And I see such opportunity for this business over the next 20 years, to be a really large, very successful business with scale that delivers real value to 10s of thousands of business owners in the US and around the world that help them be successful. By building the right team, I believe it I can see it, I’m heads down, making this the most it can possibly be. And that, for me is the absolute best use of my time. Because if we’re successful here, and have a great result, it unlocks all kinds of option and opportunity for me for what’s next in my life. If I if I fail here, great. I’ll learn I’ll get up and I’ll do it again. But what I’m doing now is what I need to be doing. And I’ll stay focused on this until we deliver the result that we’ve we’ve promised to investors into the market. Perfect stuff,
David Ralph [41:55]
perfect stuff in the perfect answer. Well, this is the part of the show that we’ve been leading up to, and we call the Sermon on the mic when we send you back in time to have a one on one with your younger self. And if you could go back in time and speak to the young Adam, what age would you choose? And what advice would you give? Well, we’re going to find out because I’m going to play the music. And when it fades you up? This is the Sermon on the mic.
Unknown Speaker [42:25]
Speed of the show.
Unknown Speaker [42:31]
Adam M Robinson [42:39]
Yeah, you know, I think I’m talking to myself at at about 10 or 11 years old. And I’m understanding that the things that I do, the decisions that I make, I should I should do it with with less fear and apprehension. Don’t Don’t second guess yourself. If you if you think that something’s a good idea, and you feel like in your heart and your gut, that it’s the right decision to make. Do not worry about what other people might think, do not worry about what might go wrong. Just follow that pursuit to your best ability, because it might work it might not. But it will absolutely not be what you want if you never take the action. So just start start sooner, do it with less fear, embrace these opportunities go forward. Don’t wait so long to start to pursue what you really want.
David Ralph [43:36]
Perfect, perfect. So Adam, what’s the number one best way that our audience who’ve been listening to this today can connect with you.
Adam M Robinson [43:43]
So you can go to my website at www dot the best team wins.com or check out our firstname.lastname@example.org and my contact information is freely available there. You can find me on Twitter at ad Robbins, or on Instagram at Mr. Robinson’s neighbourhood.
David Ralph [44:07]
We will have over links on the show notes to make it as easy as possible. Adam, thank you so much for spending time with us today. joining up those dots. And please come back again when you have more dots to join up. Because I do believe that by joining up the dots and connecting our past is the best way to build our futures. Adam Robinson Thank you so much.
Adam M Robinson [44:26]
Thank you for having me.
David Ralph [44:29]
Now Yeah, habit. So any show kind of defines Join Up Dots. message that you make decisions, you move forward, some of it, some are long, but you look back on them and you can see the ones that really work for you and you can connect the dots you can join up the dots. That was the episode. I think that was a real sort of blueprint for what it’s all about. Adams doing the thing that he likes, he can see his value so he’s doing more of it. And he will get more and more successful once you find your thing and you just keep on doing that thing. When people do notice and it becomes easier. and easier to hold I do is talking to the microphone. But until next time, we’ll see you again.
Cheers. See, David doesn’t want you to become a faded version of the brilliant self you were once to become. So he’s put together an amazing guide for you called the eight pieces of advice that every successful entrepreneur practices, including the two that changed his life. Head over to Join Up dots.com to download this amazing guide for free and we’ll see you tomorrow on Join Up Dots.