What do you do after raising $100 million? Bring Chad & Cheese in for a lunch-and-learn with your employees, of course. What could go wrong?
Enjoy this, um, Jobcase exclusive. CHIRP CHIRP?!?
PODCAST TRANSCRIPTION sponsored by:
Chad: While visiting Jobcase HQ in Cambridge, Mass, Fred Goff, Jobcase CEO and all around smart guy, lured Joel and I into a lunch and learn session about, well about us, but mainly about the Chad and Cheese entrepreneurial story, complete with some Q&A at the end. Enjoy, after this word from Jobcase.
Joel: Yo Chad, got a question for you.
Joel: Say I'm looking to hire hourly workers for hard to fill jobs, where should I go?
Chad: Easy, Jobcase.
Joel: Okay. All right. Now let's say I've tried the job boards and all I'm getting is clicks, and what I really want are qualified candidates, actual people, where should I go?
Chad: Dude, Jobcase.
Joel: Now, what if I want the team who is helping me with all this sourcing to be really, really, really smart? Before you answer, keep in mind I'm talking MENSA smart, like MIT affiliated data scientists and people who are at the forefront of machine learning. Who you got?
Chad: Oh my god dude, it's Jobcase. Jobcase. Look, with 100 million members in their community active and passive job seekers, a huge team of data scientists who are experts at targeting and connecting employers with the right candidates, the answer is always going to be Jobcase.
Joel: I dig it. I'm picking up what you're putting down, but what if-
Chad: Hard stop. Jobcase. See for yourself why the answer always comes back to Jobcase for all your hiring needs. Learn more at Jobcase.com/hire. That's Jobcase.com/hire.
Announcer: Hide your kids. Lock the doors. You're listening to HR's most dangerous podcast. Chad Sowash and Joel Cheesman are here to punch the recruiting industry right where it hurts. Complete with breaking news, brash opinion and loads of snark, buckle up boys and girls, it's time for the Chad and Cheese Podcast.
Fred: Guys, why don't you start by helping me fill in your biographies, your professional biographies better than I did? Then after we hear about each of you, if you could talk about the journey on building the Chad and Cheese Show.
Chad: You first.
Joel: I don't know how far you want me to go back.
Joel: Kindergarten. Yeah, my first entrepreneurial story is I was a big Star Wars geek as a kid, and my parents wouldn't buy me the figurines. I know we're all old enough to remember these figurines. There was a golf course near our house, so I went and gathered aluminum cans in these big garbage bags, and I would recycle them to the point where I would get enough money to buy Star Wars figures.
Joel: Later on in high school, during lunch breaks I would go buy gum at like a penny a piece, and I would go sell them at school for 25 cents a piece. I got in the job board space in '97, '98, around the time this guy did. We were at opposing job boards. Did that till around 2005, and I'd always been entrepreneurial, and I knew that I was at an age where it was time to kind of shit or get off the pot, if you will. Sorry, we have some high schoolers in the audience, so I'll try to keep it to shit and damn and stuff.
Fred: They might have heard it before.
Joel: Yeah, you're their dad.
Fred: Yeah. Not all of them.
Joel: Not all of them, yes. Not all the kids. SEO was big at the time. I was a marketer and I had learned that in the process, and so I started an SEO business for HR, it was called HR SEO. The goal was to help companies leverage, if I'm a company in Milwaukee, I would rank for Milwaukee jobs, et cetera. It sort of morphed into helping vendors market themselves and getting background check companies to rank for background checks, and job boards to rank.
Joel: Started a blog at the time called Cheezhead, and I learned that the more I blogged, the more business I got. This was sort of my first content marketing education, where you create good content, you get people to look at it and trust you and know that you know what you're talking about, and then businesses come.
Joel: Fast forward, sort of sold that business and a couple others. New Chad at the time, he was at Direct Employers. As I was blogging, he had a blog that sucked, but he had a blog, and he was like-
Chad: Some of us have real jobs.
Joel: We were buddies and like, let's just throw some, you know, the shit we talk about over beers, why don't we put a mic in front of us and push it out there? This was before smartphones. People listened to podcasts on the inter webs at the time. Mobile wasn't a thing. There were iPods, but it just wasn't quite a thing. They really sucked, but then I moved back to Indiana where he is, and he kept bugging me like, "Dude, we need to revive the whole podcast thing."
Chad: Get off the fucking couch dude, yeah.
Joel: Yeah. Put down the cheeseburgers and pick up a mic. I said, "Okay dude. Let's put a landing page out. If we get 100 people to say, 'Yes, you should do this.' And we get at least one company to write us a check, I'll commit to a year." You agree, and I was hoping to god that we wouldn't get 100 people to sign up, or that we wouldn't get someone to write us a check.
Chad: That's how much he loves me.
Joel: We did, we fulfilled both those goals and we launched the thing two years ago in March, and we just celebrated in March our second year anniversary of the podcast.
Fred: Great. Woo.
Joel: Look at us now.
Chad: Yeah, who all listens? Okay, I've got like five, are you kidding me?
Fred: Ask tomorrow.
Chad: Yeah. Hopefully you'll all come aboard. Podcasts obviously are incredibly, I should say they're on the growth side.
Joel: They're hot.
Chad: Take a look at the actual hockey stick with podcasts. We started when the only way you could actually listen to them was on your computer.
Joel: It was awful.
Chad: Yeah, it was horrible.
Joel: Yeah, a little piece of embed code from this site that produced audio.
Chad: My story real quick. I was in the military for 20 years, active and then also on the civilian soldier side of the house on the reserves. Deployed a couple of times as an infantry drill sergeant down in Fort Benning, Georgia. During that time frame, in '98, I was with Monster before it was Monster. Online career center in Indianapolis, Indiana, along with eSpan, which was also in Indianapolis, Indiana. A couple of the hot job boards at the time. TMP had bought the Monster board and Online Career Center, smushed them together in January of '99. Did Superbowl ads, blimps, all that other happy horseshit, and there you go.
Chad: I was actually a part of that growth, and it was fun, and it was just totally incredible to be a part of that. I left, and I went to a organization called Direct Employer's Association. I was there for 10 years as a VP. Actually that's where I met and had the first conversation with Fred, back probably like around 2009, 2010. While I was there, we built the National Labor Exchange.
Joel: Did he have hair back then? By the way.
Fred: Did he have hair? Big Afro.
Joel: Big Afro.
Chad: Yeah. It was all teased out and everything. Built the National Labor Exchange. I mean, there were a ton of things that we were doing that was really focused on workforce and economic development, which is why I love listening to the Jobcase story.
Chad: From there I went to recruit military, was the CXO there during transition. Was at Randstad RPO, built their veteran hiring program. Then popped out on my own and got ahold of him and said, "Hey, you know, it'd be really cool if we could start doing something to get our name back out and start talking about just shit, and do it the way that we do." Which is a couple of guys on a bar stool talking about the 20 years of experience, and the technology, and all the bullshit that we hear but nobody talks about. Nobody talks about.
Chad: If you've ever listened to an HR or TA kind of podcast, or even blog in most cases, everybody just kind of softballs, or it's all warm and fuzzy. Let's shoot it straight, and that's what we did. Within I would say six months we started to see our numbers skyrocket. Today we have a handful of listeners and sponsors.
Joel: I think there are three keys to the success of our podcast. Number one is our wealth of knowledge. Yes, we're idiots, but we've been in this space for 20 years, so we actually do have some perspective and context. That's actually really tough to find.
Joel: I think the second thing is that we really focused. So many blogs, podcasts, shows, it's like, I want to do a marketing blog, or a marketing podcast. It's like, to who and to what degree? There's so many like really expansive podcasts that I think part of our success was that we really focused on what we knew best, and we just did that stuff because we knew it when we talked about it.
Joel: Then I think the third thing was frequency. We committed to it. We committed to a weekly show, and then opportunities came and like, well we need to feature startups, so we launched Firing Squad, which was like Shark Tank for startups. Then we said, well instead of like the weekly stuff, the news is cool, but let's dive in AI, or chatbots, or automation, or programmatic with people who really know those topics. Now we're doing like live shows and talking to companies that way. Because we churn out content, people know they're always going to get fresh stuff, they're always going to know when they go check out the page, or on iTunes or whatever, that there's going to be new stuff.
Joel: I think those three things, and you can chime in on any other things that you can think of, but yeah, that has been kind of the key to the success of our podcast.
Chad: Yeah, piggy backing on that. It is so hard to keep up with what's going on in our industry. You have to do a ton of research, or listen to our podcast. I mean, that's pretty much what we want. We want to be able to be the straight shooters, do a ton of research, talk to incredibly smart people, and give our opinions on what we've seen throughout the years and what's happening now.
Chad: I think also my background's sales and partnership development and whatnot. It was really incredibly important not just to put a podcast out there and step away. We started partnering with organizations like TAtech, which is a conference, and then other conferences wanted to be a part of it, so we started doing live shows. We took a look at other podcasts that were out there that had similar types of formats, but what were they doing different to be successful? Could we adopt some of those and run parallel? We did that as well. We continually do that.
Chad: As we build, the way that I see it is I'm a product guy too, is we build new products that the people want. We have listeners, which I pretty much see as our customers. I don't see our sponsors as our customers, it's our listeners, because if they're not there, the sponsors aren't there. What do they want? What do they want us to build? What do they want us to talk about? That's where we look at our analytics, we connect with our listeners, and we try to give the people what they want, because that's what it all comes down to.
Fred: One, that's an awesome success story in two years. What sticks out to me from what you just said is we're pretty active in the entrepreneurial community.
Joel: We didn't even raise $100 million.
Fred: You didn't raise $100 million.
Chad: Who do we get in touch with for that?
Fred: I can introduce you to a guy.
Chad: Yeah, I'd like that. Can we do that?
Fred: I know a guy.
Chad: That'd be awesome.
Fred: It resonates, what you just said about building your podcast. I heard committed. I heard you were focused. I heard you're expert in your own area and content. Then you started talking about iterating and analytics. These are the exact same way so many entrepreneurs talk in, successful entrepreneurs around Kendall Square, so it really resonates with me.
Fred: I'm ignorant of the space, I'm guessing I'm not the only one. I'd be curious if we stay on the business of the podcast, what's success look like for you guys with this podcast, say three, five years down the road? What's the end? Then also, what is the business model around it? Is it advertising and call outs? How's that part work?
Chad: Yeah, advertising is definitely our ... Again, if we're creating content that obviously continues to grow our listenership, we're doing things right. If that happens, then companies are going to come to us. At that point, and this is really how we grew, so we had one podcast, it was a weekly podcast, that was full of sponsors. We had a bunch of other companies coming to us saying, "Take our money." It was because they wanted to be associated with something that was authentic, something that was real, something that pulled the covers back and actually talked about what the landscape looks like. We actually hit a nerve obviously.
Chad: At that point we started creating all these new podcasts that Joel was talking about. We had these concepts ready to go, but we weren't going to just start throwing them out there without the prospect of funding too. Because I have a consulting company, he has a product called Ratedly that's out there, so we have to take a look at the time that we spend, where do we spend it?
Joel: I think that, assuming everyone, if you haven't heard a podcast, you've heard a radio station before, so our ads are very similar to radio spots. I think part of our success was the novelty of an audio advertisement. Because most of the companies in our space, they know what Google pay per click ads are, they know what Facebook newsfeed ads are, but there's not a lot of opportunity, unless you're Casper Mattresses or ZipRecruiter-
Joel: To like think, oh this podcasting medium is a really cool place to like market our stuff. Because of the audience that we pull is so targeted, a lot of companies I think the novelty of like, oh cool, we could do a little script and record it, and put it out there as like almost a radio spot on your show. I think that was part of the appeal, that it wasn't just put a banner ad on the site, or do something you've already done. It was really unique to a lot of the companies out there.
Chad: Well, and we have fun with our sponsors too, because they'll come out with new ads and then we'll make fun of the ads, or we'll make fun of their URL, you know, gocanvas.io, what the fuck is that? It's one of those things. We have fun with it.
Joel: Was gocanvas.com taken? Anyway.
Chad: Yeah, but they were acquired by Jobvite, so apparently that didn't hurt. Yeah, it's all about trying to, again, be real, and that's what, when you set that expectation every advertiser or sponsor that we talk to, there's one conversation I have right up front, from an expectation standpoint. We are who we are. We own the content. We say what gets on the air, how it gets on the air. You have no say over any of it, period. If you can get behind that, we want you to be a sponsor of ours.
Chad: There has not been a company yet to say no, because they want to be a part of that genuineness that, to be quite frank our industry does not have. It's all softballs and fluffy bullshit, right? That's where I think we struck a nerve.
Joel: I think from a job case standpoint, and he mentioned community, it's very strange to me, and I'm a marketing person as well, almost pretty much none of our advertisers are laser focused on, what are we getting from marketing on your podcast? None of them have like gocanvas.io/cheese, or something to get this white paper, or to find out more about us. There's no coupon codes that they're pimping to like how many people buy that use this code that we can track what we're getting.
Joel: It almost feels like they're supporting the arts. Like we want to be on this ... Well, art can be many things to many people.
Joel: Do you agree?
Chad: Finger painting.
Joel: It feels like they're less concerned about, what's my ROI? More interested in, how do we partake in the community and support what these guys are doing? I think that's kind of an intriguing part of what we do.
Chad: Yeah, I think that's a part of it. I think they definitely want to support something that they believe in. I mean, that's I think how we all feel when we give money to charitable organizations or what have you, or even our time. Yeah, I think the ROI in what we do is seen in many different ways for our different sponsors.
Joel: Sure, and we get sponsors who say like, "Half our inbound leads are the show, like they mention the show." Maybe it's just like they don't need to do that sort of tracking because they get it sort of anecdotally internally from their sales efforts and lead funnels and all that good stuff.
Fred: Let me ask you one more question on the podcast, and then we'll speculate.
Joel: You also asked where we wanted to see it going, which we strategically avoided that.
Fred: You strategically avoided. This stuff's going to keep getting bigger.
Joel: We avoided that topic, because I don't think, we probably don't even agree on it. I don't think we've even talked about it.
Chad: We have.
Fred: Well I did hear that if there's a stroke URL strategy, it's Stroke Cheese, not Stroke Chad, so that's going to be another issue I guess to resolve.
Joel: Yeah. Do you want to talk about that?
Chad: Yeah, I mean, I'm a big growth guy, and Joel's a it ain't broke-
Joel: I'm a big growth guy.
Chad: He's like, it ain't broke, don't fix it, kind of guy. I mean, and the beautiful part is it's a 50/50 kind of relationship. I mean, we have to sell each other on stuff, because one vote doesn't mean that shit happens. It has to be unanimous.
Joel: If we disagree, we don't do it, on either side.
Chad: Yeah. I mean, we really have to make the case. From our standpoint, the word that I'm always kind of going back to is kind of legacy. What do people see us as? What do people see our podcast as? It's not just our podcast. How do we also help others really springboard them up because they have great voices as well? What is our responsibility in this space? Not to be just truth tellers, but also boost other truth tellers up. How do we do that? We argue about that stuff. We don't agree in some cases. I mean that I think we're both in genuine agreement that that's why we have people on the show, or that's why we want to be able to promote other, or maybe even create other podcasts.
Joel: There is the realization, like for the young people in the audience, and there are quite a few, the bottom will fall out one day. Recessions happen, it will happen again. Chad and I have seen at least two in our lifetimes. When that happens, our industry gets hit significantly harder because when people don't hire, we can't make money, unless you have a different model. I think we're probably more conservative with what we're going toward, knowing that, okay, when the bottom falls out and the sponsorship dollars dry up, what happens to the show? We have to think about that as well when we think about growth. Agree?
Chad: Yeah, I totally agree, but I also think that in a recession there's also a great conversation around keeping your brand alive, you know what I mean?
Joel: Yeah. It's a little bit like everyone in Boston that was born after 2000 just thinks like championships happen all the time.
Chad: Hands up.
Joel: They really don't. There are dry spells where things suck, and that's the important insight as well.
Chad: Just not in your lifetime.
Fred: What is one of the, if you look back at the two years, what is a podcast that's very memorable either because a guest goes horribly wrong, or because it went very viral afterwards on sharing? Can be good or bad, but what comes to mind in the last two years of podcasts?
Chad: Career Builders dumpster fire that's turning into like this dumpster inferno thing, has been incredibly helpful. I mean, there's no question. The stupid shit that we hear out of Career Builder, that everybody knows is real, that has really propelled us. Not to mention Indeed making just stupid, I mean maybe it's not stupid short term monetarily for them, or revenue standpoint, but I think long term we see it as stupid to be able to make those types of decisions. People want to hear about that. When we can kind of glom onto it and give our opinion on top of it, it's been big. It's been very big.
Joel: Two things that stand out for me is, so I have a journalism degree from Ball State, Muncie's in the house.
Speaker 5: Woo. Chirp, chirp.
Joel: Chirp, chirp motherfuckers.
Chad: That is the weakest shit I think I have ever heard.
Joel: Although we're-
Chad: Chirp, chirp motherfuckers. Really. That's going to be the name of this pod, by the way.