Dan Pollock, CEO of Advantis Global and Advantis Medical Staffing, joins this episode of The Staffing Show to talk about his experience in the staffing industry and how he worked his way up to leading a high-growth company that focuses on two in-demand professions: IT and healthcare. He provides tips on creating a company culture in the era of remote work and discusses how providing a path to promotion for his employees has led to higher retention during the Great Resignation.
David Folwell: Hello everyone and thank you for joining us for another episode of The Staffing Show. Today I am super excited to be joined by Dan Pollock, the CEO of Advantis Global. Dan, thank you for joining us on the show today. If you could go ahead and kick things off by giving us a little intro and a background on how you got into staffing.
Dan Pollock: Thanks, David, really appreciate you having me. I’m excited to talk. So I’m originally from Richmond, Virginia. Went to school at Penn State, played volleyball there. And after school got right into the staffing industry. Started off as a recruiter at Aerotek, I was there for seven years. Recruited, sold, and managed. And then I got married and my wife and I were up for an adventure and we started our nomadic life where we moved all across the country several times. So I was with Modis after Aerotek for 10 years. Modis was purchased by Adecco and I was in a variety of different leadership roles there. I ran branches, I ran the West Coast, I ran the East Coast, and then I finished up running all of national accounts for Modis, about $800 million worth of business, before joining as the Advantis CEO in 2017.
Folwell: Awesome, awesome. And with that, could you tell me a little bit about where Advantis is in terms of annual revenue and what your growth looks like for 2022?
Pollock: Sure. We’ve been on a great trajectory these last few years. So we have two different businesses. We have Advantis Global, which is an IT staffing company. Our clients are the big tech companies of the world. We’re headquartered in San Francisco, the Bay Area, so you can imagine all the big names out there that we do business with. And then we have a healthcare staffing business where we place travel nurses and allied professionals all across the U.S. Both businesses have been growing really well. So last year we did roughly 180,000…180 million, I’m sorry, in revenue. That was up from 85 million the year before. This year we’re trending. We will double again this year. We’ll probably cross over the 400 million mark consolidated.
Folwell: That is incredible. Is that being driven mostly through the medical division or IT? I mean, you’re in two sectors that are unbelievably hot right now.
Pollock: So we got lucky. Fortunate with our IT client base. When the pandemic hit, big tech they just pivoted to work from home. It was super easy for them. Our clients started hiring remotely and they didn’t miss a beat. We actually grew 30% in 2020, and last year we grew 56%. We are hopeful that we will be somewhere between 45 and 50% on the IT side this year. And then, of course, healthcare it’s gone nuts. It’s gone nuts. So last year the healthcare business did 97 million, this year it’ll do over 300.
Folwell: Wow. That’s wild. That’s wild. And is it mostly driven by travel nursing or is there…Are you doing locums and allied?
Pollock: Just nursing and allied. So we started Advantis Medical in 2018. We put our first clinician to work in July of 2018. Not a lot of revenue that first year but we learned a lot. I think we did in revenue. In 2019, we did roughly 5.9 million and we started to figure things out. One of the big key pivotal moments was we got our joint commission accreditation in December of ’19 that allows us to place clinicians at every healthcare system across the country. And then when the pandemic hit that momentum just really accelerated.
We consider ourselves a high-growth company, which means we’re constantly reinvesting back in the company to grow faster. So we invest in three core areas: people, process, and technology. So to give you an example on the people front for our healthcare business. In January of ’21, we had 21 internal Advantis Medical employees. Today we have over 200 and we want to end the year over 300 internal employees. From a process standpoint, we’re trying to automate everything that a human touches. We want to take every single administrative task or data entry task off of clinician’s plate, off our back office, off our middle office, off our front office. Automation is our best friend.
And then we’re going big into technology. We launched Advantis Connect, which is a clinician portal in October of 2021. It essentially allows a clinician to come, create a profile, give us all the documents we need in order to submit them to a facility, they can search all of our open positions, we have complete pay transparency. And as soon as they apply we then have a recruiter contact them to take them the rest of the way through the process. We have over 20,000 candidates who’ve signed up with Advantis Connect in the six months that we’ve been, the product’s been live. And we’re adding features daily it seems like, and we have several other products in the pipeline to help move us more to being a tech-centric company.
Folwell: Awesome. And is that a mobile app as well? Or is it web-based?
Pollock: Funny you ask. Got off a call with our dev team. We designed it in C# to start but we’re moving it to Flutter. Flutter will allow us to publish it to the app stores and actually allow us to do feature releases much, much quicker in the future. And it allows you to essentially design one time and then you can go to both Android and iPhone….
Folwell: Oh, nice.
Pollock: Simultaneously so it makes it much, much easier. So it’s like we’re taking a three-month sort of pause in some aspects to get it to Flutter, but it’s a slow down to go much faster if that makes sense?
Folwell: Got it. Absolutely. Got to pay down the technical debt sometimes or make the big shifts for the long-term. So it sounds like you have a dev team in-house. Is that a huge component of your company? I know a lot of staffing firms when they go to the build versus buy, trying to figure out how to approach things. And I’ve watched a lot of staffing firms build, get the developers in-house and then maybe not know necessarily how to manage technology. Have there been challenges with that in terms of learning curve or anything you would like to share with the audience on that front?
Pollock: All of the above. So we actually started off with an outsourced development company that essentially designed our MVP and got us to launch date. What we learned through that is one, I am not a good product manager. You got to be a product manager. So our first technical hire was actually a product manager who’s turned out to be an incredible hire for the company because he’s been able to do so many other things for us. And while the outside development company did good work for us, we ultimately wanted to control it. And I think we will have a future where we’re outsourcing some work on some products while we’re controlling core features of our most important applications in-house. So yes, we’ve built a team and are continuing to add to that team. We have a great leader, a VP of IT, great enterprise architects, great developers who most importantly they believe in our purpose. They are great cultural fits so it makes communicating and doing…working through all the details much, much easier.
Folwell: That is awesome. And with that, just so I understand a little better, with the mobile app have you rolled it out in just the medical side, or is it mobile and IT and cross-functional for the different divisions?
Pollock: That’s a great question. So here’s my experience. You’re not going get a lot of attention from candidates unless you have thousands and thousands of orders. And on the IT side, that’s just not our business model. We are much more snipers on the IT side. We focus in really, really high-end skill sets, high-end developers, DevOps, cloud, machine learning. While we have hundreds of orders at a time not thousands so we didn’t feel like that would be the same use case or same ROI to replicate it for the IT side.
Folwell: And also I think just from a candidate behavior it probably makes sense. So years ago we did some research on travel nursing and messaging, and one of the top messages was search thousands of jobs. And I feel like in the IT space they’re used to having jobs come to them I feel like. I mean, it goes both ways. Travel nurses are getting pushed as well but it’s definitely a different behavior probably.
Pollock: On that point. I was talking to the chief data architect at LinkedIn, we were having lunch, and he was talking to me about software developers in the Bay Area. We’re a big user of LinkedIn on the IT side, where one of our number one communication tool with candidates. And he was saying that on any given day, a developer gets 30 plus messages from different recruiters. And so that’s eye-opening and scary because you’ve really got to figure out how to stand out in a crowd so your messages have to be very on point to be able to grab their attention. That’s a very, very difficult part on the IT side. So like you said. To reinforce what you said. They are used to just jobs finding them, they don’t have to consult the job boards.
Folwell: Absolutely. And so with that, one of the things that I know you and I briefly talked about was that…and I heard you bring it up here is that you have the different divisions but then you’re also operating these different divisions with different structures in terms of having…I think you have a fully remote team, a hybrid model, and an office team. Could you share a little bit about what you’ve learned between the different, operating the different models and what you think works and doesn’t work?
Pollock: Sure. It has been interesting through the pandemic to manage different companies with different working models. So our IT side, the internal team is 100% remote. The hybrid piece we have there is, we have some clusters of internal talent who like to go into a WeWork maybe once a week, maybe once or twice a month to work together and gain synergies but, for the most part, they work out of their house. For an old dog like me, it was a new trick for sure. But the team has responded really well and the growth has been exceptional so they’ve asked for it and we continue to reward them, and now we’ve fully dedicated ourselves to being a remote-first company so that was a big pivot. Obviously, COVID forced it on us. And now I think we’re trying to become a great remote-first company, and that’s a never-ending pursuit because you have to continue to meet the needs of your team and your team’s needs continually change.
And then on the healthcare side, like a lot of staffing companies, we hire folks very junior in their career into recruiting roles. And then we’re coaching, mentoring, training, developing, and teaching them the business. That company goes in everyday so we have a huge office. 95% of our talent sits in an office in Dallas and they’re in the office every single day. We do give them the option to work remote one or two days a week. What’s interesting is many times they do not take us up on it, they prefer to come into the office five days a week. And what I’ve found from that is they just enjoy the sense of community and they’re, they’ve made friends, lifelong friends I think in some cases, and they enjoy being with each other.
Healthcare staffing has just so many details. There’s so many recs, so many candidates that we just felt it was easier to execute the business when everybody’s under the same roof. When communicating is easier because you can just stand up and talk to the person right next to you or across the pit. It just made solutioning problems much easier. It removed the friction.
Folwell: And with that, one of the things I noticed on your site is you talked about the importance of human connection and empathy in the business. What steps or processes had to be put in place to help facilitate the human connection with a remote work environment? I know that’s something that a lot of agencies struggle with. Our team, we’re constantly navigating that. We have a remote team as well. But I was wondering if you had any specific activities that you do for that?
Pollock: I mean, internally I do think the teams at times enjoy all the remote Zoom whatever happy hours, contests, games, fitness challenges. But honestly, nothing’s going to replace getting together. What we try to do quarterly is get teams together in either a regional event or some teams are organized by client. Get everyone who services a certain client together. Just last week…I’ll give you a couple examples. I took one group to a Dallas Mavericks basketball game and we got a suite. A couple days later another group in Austin we went to a John Mayer concert. And those, obviously, we’re centering business meetings around those events, but nothing replaces seeing each other face to face, talking, bonding. Those are really important glue moments from a culture perspective.
And maintaining culture and providing a great supportive environment is the number-one priority for remote-first companies otherwise it just makes it so easy for folks just to walk across the street. You’ve got to find a way to have them really believe in the purpose of the company. Really feel like they are bought into the success of their peers. It’s not only their own success. I mean, as you know, in staffing typically it’s an intradependent atmosphere where recruiters are really relying on salespeople to close deals for them. Salespeople are really relying on recruiters to bring great candidates to the table. It takes two to tango. And if you’re not measuring up on either the quality or the quantity you’re then letting somebody else down. And we feel like if we can make that intradependent mindset really stick with the group then it’s like hey, it’s a Friday afternoon I can cut out early but you know what? So and so’s depending on me so I’m going to grind hard to the end of the day, and I think that’s really important.
Folwell: Awesome. I love that. And I definitely think it’s important to get the in-person aspect is so key with that. And I know one of the things that most of the agencies we talk to these days are dealing with some form of the Great Resignation to a different extent. Every brand I know has lost a few key people at some point in the last year. What are you doing to make sure you’re retaining the right employees?
Pollock: Well, I would say first and foremost, we feel really fortunate and we have not lost any key individuals. I think partly is when you’re on a winning team and the times are good. People are making money. Their commissions, their bonuses are great. They’re proud of helping to build a company. So that’s good. Now, what we’re continuing to do, we have to show I think every single person in the company their next path to promotion. That’s a really, really important term for us. It starts off with say…I’ll give you an example. An entry-level recruiter in our company, they enter a two-week training plan when they first join us, and then after those two weeks of training, they have the first path to promotion, which is two phases. Phase one is a 13-week period of time where they essentially it’s all about the numbers. They have to show us they can run at industry pace. Not running a record-breaking four-minute mile, show us you can run an eight-minute mile. Just shows you can run at industry pace.
After that, after they hit those first numbers, then they enter phase two. And phase two is about developing themselves and all the upper-level skills that it takes to really execute the recruiting job well. And so at the end of the two phases, to get promoted into a professional recruiter role, they have to interview with me or one of the presidents. And we do a little role play and they have to pass, and that’s the first path to promotion. Then path to promotions continue after that. And so it goes on and on and on. So even our VPs have their own path to promotion. They have to understand what they need to do both objectively and subjectively to move up and assume more responsibility if that’s what motivates them, if that’s what they’re looking for. I think that’s a big component to retaining people is showing them what is the next step and how they get there.
Folwell: I love that. And I like that you have it so systemized. I feel like a lot of people talk about it but actually having it in place where it’s clear and people can understand where they’re going next is so critical. And with that, you talked a little bit about how you use people, process, technology to differentiate your brand. You talked about the culture a lot. But are there any specific ways that you go to market to differentiate yourself from the competition or any positioning and strategies that you have in place?
Pollock: Ultimately we’re going to win on service. This business is a relationship business. Our product is people. Our sales folks have to be great at building relationships and understanding customer needs. And so we spend an intense amount of time on making sure that they’re great at doing just that. I think on the healthcare side, what we’re trying to do is build this beautiful marriage of gorgeous, effective technology coupled with the best and exceptional, incredible human experience. And if you can marry those two up, the candidate will feel valued.
We started the medical business with one real goal in mind was to treat the clinician like gold. And if we did that they would reward us with their hard work, with their loyalty, and with referrals. That is our mission. We are not perfect at that. We at times let them down. I talk to the team a lot about progress over perfection. We know we’re never going to be perfect. There’s going to be a payroll issue here, a timecard issue there. But look, we got to resolve those issues quickly and get back to treating them like gold so that’s our mantra here.
Folwell: Makes sense. With that, are you using any measure? Are you doing NPS measurements? Are you doing things to make sure you’re tracking along those lines?
Pollock: We do a lot of surveys. I think the team gets a little annoyed at me. So we have to play with the frequency of our surveys. We like feedback. And one of the good things is when you do survey your team you have to be very transparent in communicating back to the team what the group told you, both positive and negative, and then you have to digest the information and then come back and circle back and say, “Here is what we’re going to do to improve.” And if you get in a rhythm and you get your leadership team in a rhythm of doing that, it’s much easier to one, accept responsibility for the faults or weaknesses and talk about it openly as a group, and then also have everybody moving in the same direction to solve those problems.
If you try to sweep things under the rug or ignore major issues people are going to think you’re a fraud and they’re going to…you get a lot of Monday morning quarterbacking or side seat driving. A lot of people wanting to be the president of the company and make calls because they’re so frustrated that something’s broken. So you never want them to feel like that so you need to give them, especially in a remote atmosphere, lots of ability to give us feedback so I think that’s incredibly important. And then not only doing it internally but as you just alluded to, talking to your consultant base and talking to your client base about how you can improve.
Such a huge part being a CEO or president of a company is having your finger on the pulse. And if you don’t ask the questions then you’re just guessing. And I guarantee you’ll be wrong. Or not wrong but your picture will be incomplete because there’s things out there that are hidden and the only way to unearth them is to ask frequently what we can do better?
Folwell: I love that. And I completely agree with that mantra and that approach. Are you using any technology to enable this or any, it sounds like you’re big in automation. Do you have this process all automated? And the feedback, how are you handling that?
Pollock: I think from a basic standpoint we just use SurveyMonkey. Our marketing team takes care of all of that and then aggregates the data for us. We have a template in which they give it to the leadership team so we’re used to digesting it in the same format over and over again.
Folwell: Got it. That works. And I know you did talk about the automation and we jumped into your app. Are there any other tools that you’ve implemented over the last few years? It sounds like you’re developing a lot of them. But are there other automations you’ve put in place with your team to help drive efficiency that have been especially powerful?
Pollock: Well, good email and texting campaigns and software that enables that is extremely important. So we use both Sense and then another tool called ActiveCampaign. You got to have a constant drip to certain populations of your stakeholders that you’re trying to influence, I think that’s really important. And then we’re doing lots of stuff internally to take the administrative burden off of a recruiter’s plate. I don’t want the recruiter dubbing a resume or checking references or doing really anything paperwork-related. Okay. I want it all to be seamless. In healthcare staffing you have something called a package that you submit to a healthcare facility that has…it’s a combination of seven or eight documents for the clinician. And so we have this automatic package builder that makes it extremely easy at the touch of a button to build a package for the recruiter. Before that tool was in place it could take somebody, maybe a rookie, it would take 35 or 40 minutes for them to cobble this thing together and make it look good in Adobe and now they can do it at the touch of a button.
There’s similar things like that. In Advantis Connect if a clinician gives us their references, as soon as the references are put into Connect we auto-check them via text message so you’re saving the recruiters from having to check those references. So a variety of things like that to speed up. From when we first talk to a candidate to when we can present them to the client in today’s market that is….
Folwell: A speedy market’s everything.
Pollock: It’s pretty crazy. I mean, the order volume has decreased significantly in healthcare staffing. When recs are released in the MSP segment of our business, you’ve got to submit your qualified candidates within minutes not hours.
Pollock: Yeah. If a hospital in say Atlanta sent out ER days opening, they would have, depending on their vendor community, probably 100 submittals within 24 hours.
Pollock: So you need to be within the first 10 or 15 minutes. And so there’s a lot of work that has to be done in the front end to be able to respond that quickly. You have to be proactive.
Folwell: And so on the healthcare side, it’s really having that pool of candidates so within 10 minutes of that rec going up you’re submitting every, as many people that fit that criteria as possible.
Folwell: To be first to mark.
Pollock: Prepackaged. You know exactly that clinician would want that site for that pay range and you’re able to move quickly. And so that takes a lot of relationship building with the clinician. Clinician has to do a lot of work on the front end to give us the information, and we have to have a strong relationship, and they have to trust us to be able to submit on their behalf.
Folwell: And with that I mean, you’re talking a little bit about some of the trends in healthcare staffing. Going through MSP, the force. Moving towards improving speed to market and getting the candidates to the vendors as quickly as possible. What are some other major trends you see in the healthcare staffing or in IT and are they overlapping or are they differentiated in a pretty meaningful way in terms of where the markets are going?
Pollock: In healthcare staffing, I think the two biggest themes are technology as being very, very disruptive and two, mergers and acquisitions. There are an insatiable appetite for companies to get bigger and bigger and bigger. So lots of acquisitions have happened the last couple years. There’s many, many more that are coming. And so instead of a bunch of two, three, $400 million players, there’s going to be many, many more billion-dollar players and all in an arms race to have more recruiters, have more end clients, have more technology, and that’s just going to continue to accelerate.
On the IT side, MSP is where still the high-volume accounts are. And we do play in some MSP but the majority of our success comes with direct SOW-type relationships. And I think the things that we have to do there is we have to provide a full service that matches the customer’s needs, not some out-of-the-box thing you have to tailor it to them. And I think that’s really important. And you have to essentially build a fence around your business because anytime a competitor smells oh, you have 50 people there or 100 people in this group, they’re coming for it. And so how do you protect it and continue to exceed the client’s expectations year after year after year? I mean, as soon as you get complacent in staffing that business is gone. As soon as the client thinks you’re overcharging them they’re going to look for cheaper solutions so you’ve got to show value to justify your rate structure.
Folwell: And talking about your tactics so jumping back a little bit. But with your growth strategy, are you looking at acquisitions as well, or are you looking at organic growth?
Pollock: We’re an organic growth company. We like to control the culture, we like to promote from within. We’re really, really careful when we hire leaders from the outside, they have to be a culture fit and match. That vibe and just being a great person with the caring, empathetic heart is priority number one. The leadership team and I, we’re fiercely protective of the culture. That is an internal secret sauce….
Folwell: I love it.
Pollock: No one else can duplicate. And as you’ve probably seen over the course of your career, you’re going to hire people who aren’t good for staffing. It doesn’t make them a bad person, it doesn’t make the company a bad company, but as long as they come to that conclusion and they’re a good person and we’re providing a supportive environment, you can part amicably and you’re not causing any toxic moments in the company. Because when you’re losing internal folks from attrition, those are big changes for the team and you don’t want that to be disruptive because somebody felt like they weren’t being treated properly. I’ve had too many headaches over the course of my career working at the big companies where I just saw poor exits turn the culture upside down.
Folwell: And I’ve learned the hard way over the years that just because somebody can get the job done if they don’t fit the culture, the long-run trajectory for them it’s not going to be a good fit so I feel that makes complete sense with that. With that, the last question I had on Advantis specifically, and I’m jumping back to the tech stuff. But with the healthcare side, your app, I was just thinking about, are you trying to get to a spot where…there’s a lot of the Uberization of staffing getting to an area where companies are trying to essentially have people almost book their next assignment end to end. Do you see that as something that will be disruptive to the industry or an area that you’re going towards?
Pollock: Yes. So here’s how we view our engagement with our candidate base. So there’s definitely 100%, a percentage of the population, mostly younger but not necessarily, who they like to do everything online. They shop online, social media online, they date online. So guess what? They want to find a job online. Then there’s a percentage of the population who wants the concierge white-glove service. They want their recruiter to be their friend, their travel agent, and they want their hand held all the way through the process.
In reality, I think the best model moving forward will probably be a way for a candidate to self-service digitally but then have a human at any point of the process there at a moment’s notice to interact and answer questions or remove friction. And so they’ll bounce back and forth between technology and human, technology and human, at their own discretion. I think that’s where we end up landing and that’s…we’re trying to build all three models and be great in all three areas. But yes, you will see…and there already are platforms out there that essentially can be a completely digital experience. In travel nursing, we still like having people involved but we are moving to a model where if they choose not to, then they can just have a digital experience with us. I’m sure you know about per diem staffing.
Pollock: I think that model has moved even much more fast, or quickly, to just a completely digital footprint where the nurses are just booking themselves shifts on all these different spots.
Folwell: I’m just going to pick up the shifts. I’ve already certified I’ve got my licenses so let me in. No, that makes complete sense. And you brought the travel agent I think that’s the best analogy for where we are today, where it’s like we had travel agencies and now you can do most of it online. You still go to a travel agent if you want but over time I think that things will shift more in that direction. With that, I’m going to jump into the more personal human questions here, the rapid fire side. So is there any advice that you wish you were given before entering the staffing industry?
Pollock: I never really realized how up and down the industry would be and just being patient and riding out the roller coaster. Never getting too high, never getting too low. If you just are disciplined and consistent with your work ethic you’ll be successful. I think the other piece of advice I wish I maybe trusted my heart a little bit earlier was, I always had this entrepreneurial spirit, I always wanted to start companies, I didn’t get to that until 20 plus years in the business. I wish I had done it earlier if I could go back and do it. But love the companies that I’m participating with today. Wouldn’t change anything. But if I ever could go back in time.
Folwell: Do it earlier. Go out there and start the business.
Pollock: Trust in yourself, bet on yourself.
Folwell: I love that. In the last five years what new belief, behavior, or habit has most improved your life?
Pollock: Personally, it was tracking my macros. I was about to turn 40, my wife asked me what we were going to do to celebrate and I said, I traveled like a, I was a road warrior. I was like “Please, I don’t want to go on any trips because I’m in the airplane…airports all the time.” So I sat long and hard. I was like what am I going to give myself when I turn 40? And I was like I’m going to give myself the gift of health. And so I figured out how to track macros. I dropped 20, 25 pounds and feel better.
David, I try to keep my life very simple. I only try to focus on being good in three areas. One, I want to be a great husband and dad. Two, I want to be a great CEO, and founder, and owner. And then three, health and fitness. And if I’m good at health and fitness it helps me be better at one and two. I don’t golf, I don’t have a lot of outside hobbies, I just try to keep it super simple. Be good at those three things and that’s plenty on my plate and so that’s enough work for me.
Folwell: That’s great. And what is one of the best or most worthwhile investments you’ve ever made? It could be an investment of money, time, energy, et cetera.
Pollock: Well, I probably would go back to the macro tracker on my phone. I use an app called MyNetDiary. By tracking my food intake each day it actually gives me permission to have those cheat meals or to feel okay to have a couple drinks when I’m out with the team because I can just budget for it. It works with my mindset. And in the same regards, I subscribe to an online coach, his name’s CoryG, he has an app. He’s got these insane workouts that continue to challenge me in the gym. So those two things. They’re on my home screen on my phone right when you need them.
Folwell: I love it.
Pollock: You can’t hide from them. And so every day I’m in both of them.
Folwell: I love that. And what are the bad recommendations you hear in your profession or area of expertise?
Pollock: Bad recommendations. I think one of the things that we’ve benefited from the most this past year is hiring people from our competitors, where our competitors made, in my opinion, short-sighted decisions based on their compensation or not being flexible with work models, and it drove some top performers out of their company and into our arms, which we happily welcomed. I get it. If a PE firm gets involved, or you’re positioning to be sold, you’re cutting costs. I’m not saying these folks are dumb individuals or dumb business people, but as soon as the employee feels less valued, as soon as they feel like a number, as soon as you mess with their comp, you basically just have to resign yourself to that person is probably leaving. If you’re making that decision just know you’re losing great talent and there’s companies like ours who are going to pick them up and benefit from it.
Folwell: That’s great. That’s great. And what is the book or books you’ve given most as a gift and why?
Pollock: There’s two. Since we hire so many folks that are junior in their career, right out of school, the one we give them is The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter. It’s written by Ph.D. Meg Jay, she’s out of…was out of UVA. And the CliffNotes version is, look, your 20s set up your 30s, and your 30s set up the rest of your life so you got to get your 20s right. Find a company that’s going to invest in you. Somewhere where you can grow personally, professionally, financially. Somewhere where your leader cares about you. Essentially don’t date losers and don’t take dead-end jobs and then your 20s will be good and then your 30s you can set up the rest of your life.
The other book we love and we make all of our leaders read it and it’s really the framework for our leadership team is a book called Lead Simply. It’s a very small, slender book. You could read it in 15 minutes probably but it’s got a leadership framework that I think helps brand-new leaders organize themselves and be disciplined. It’s built around three key concepts: model, connect, and involve. So one, a leader’s always modeling the right behaviors or a behavior. If you’re coming in early, staying late, working through lunch, guess what your team’s going to do? They’re going to come in early, stay late. Exactly. And vice versa. If you’re cutting corners your team cuts corners.
Two, you got to connect with your teams. They have to know that you care about them as a person first and foremost before they’ll trust you or listen to your professional guidance. And then three, and this is really important for new managers is, you’ve got to involve them in the running of your business. You must delegate and empower. And so if you can model, connect, and involve effectively, you create the holy grail of leadership which is peer-to-peer accountability. So when you go on vacation the team is self-managing and self-policing, themselves, and holding themselves accountable. And so it’s a really important aspect of our business. Our leaders talk about it constantly. To get promoted into a management or leadership role at our companies I take you through a model, connect, and involve exercise where you’re talking to me about what you’re doing in all three categories with your team and I verify that you are actually doing what you’re saying. But it gives them a way to organize their leadership behaviors.
Folwell: That’s really great. I’m going to be taking a look at it myself. That sounds like a great book and I like the simplicity of it. I feel like there’s so many models that just get a little bit too elaborate. The last question I have for you is, how has a failure or apparent failure set you up for later success?
Pollock: I think we all want to get promoted really quickly in our careers. And if I look back on some of the key pivotal moments in my career there were a few times where I didn’t get the job, but how much that benefited me is actually pretty crazy because one, it made me either double down or it made me be introspective in what I need to do to get better. It made me work harder, it made me reach higher, it made me hungrier. So it hurts in the moment but you have to do autopsies. Learn from those moments and then actually have the self-awareness to change, and evolve, and adapt. And if you can do that then I think with hard work and relationship building success will follow in staffing.
Folwell: That is great. Dan, it was really nice having you on the show today. Do you have any closing comments that you’d like to share with the audience?
Pollock: I think it’s a great time to be in staffing. For the rest of this year, it’s all green lights. It’s going to be I think one of the best year-over-year growth years for both IT and healthcare staffing that the industry has maybe ever seen. And so with so much opportunity out there, attack your days. Make the most of it because there’s, the roller coaster will continue. There will be down years. Make the money while you can.
Folwell: Oh, that’s great. Thanks again for being on, Dan. Really appreciated the conversation, very insightful, and I hope you have a great day.
Pollock: Thank you, David, really enjoyed it.