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Disability Solutions

LIVE from Sun King

Two idiot podcasters and an industry CEO walk into a brewery …

No, it’s not a joke. Chad & Cheese threw back some brews with’s CEO and Founder Mark Simpson last week, and luckily for you, the mics were on. Talkin’ remote work, employee culture and the power of Middle America to reshape the coasts.



Disability Solutions is your RPO partner for the disability community, from source to hire.

INTRO (1s):

Hide your kids! Lock the doors! You're listening to HR’s most dangerous podcast. Chad Sowash and Joel Cheeseman 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.

Chad (25s):

Hello, Indianapolis. I've always wanted to do that.

Joel (32s):

You're not at the halftime show of the Super Bowl. I keep trying to tell you that.

Chad (35s):

I feel like Dr. Dre, you got Snoop

Mark (38s):

We're on a roll, right?

Chad (40s):

You got Snoop and you got Mary Jay. Right?

Mark (44s):

Is this my color or what? That's what I'm saying.

Chad (47s):

It's your color. It's your color. Excellent.

Joel (50s):

Can we get an applause for the free beer and food from the folks at Pillar?

Chad (54s):

Yes. Free beer and food. For all of those who were enjoying the free beer and food.

Joel (57s):

Whenever there's like, we didn't get any free fucking beer.

Chad (60s):

Free beer food.

Joel (1m 1s):

Can we do F bombs on a live show like this?

Chad (1m 4s):

Yes. okay. Alexa says we can F bomb We're in a brewery. Thanks. Hey, thanks again. Sun king. Give it up for sun king. Great Indiana beer. That's right. Kids.

Joel (1m 15s):

We're unveiling the Chad and Cheese lager tonight.

Chad (1m 18s):

The Chad and Cheese lager. It's a little sweet. It's a little sour.

Joel (1m 22s):

It's less filling though than most regular bears. And if you like free beer, including beer, that's sponsored by Pillar.

Chad (1m 30s):


Joel (1m 30s):

Go to Chad that got an applause.

Chad (1m 34s):

Delivered to your door, baby, delivered to your front door!

Joel (1m 38s): to get free beer from Pillar!

Chad (1m 40s):

That's right!

Joel (1m 41s):

Then you can come zoom tasting with us. And this is Mark, the CEO. Mark. What do you want to say about the company yourself, your team, your lovely team there.

Chad (1m 49s):

I want to hear, I want to hear the deep dark secrets of Mark.

Mark (1m 54s):

I'm just scared right now. I like scared looking at YouTube thinking whats happening?

Joel (1m 59s):

Not since the revolutionary war has a Brit been so scared of a couple of Americans.

Chad (2m 3s):

That was a good one.

Joel (2m 4s):

With beer.

Chad (2m 5s):

I liked that.

Mark (2m 7s):

I was just saying I'm scared right now is a scary place to be next to you. You're professionals, you do this all the time. So I don't know what's coming up next.

Chad (2m 18s):

Total professionals. So a little background about you. You have like 27 exits not 12 kids, go ahead.

Mark (2m 28s):

I've started four companies. So what, this is my fourth company. I have two kids, a very, very understanding wife. And yeah, I love it. I love solving big problems.

Joel (2m 42s):

You live in New York, so welcome to Indianapolis.

Mark (2m 45s):

Thank you gentlemen but yeah. Thank you very much.

Chad (2m 48s):

It's the same thing.

Joel (2m 48s):

You live in Connecticut.

Chad (2m 49s):

Yeah, it's the same.

Mark (2m 51s):

I'm my heart is now in Indianapolis, now after coming here every month for the last year or so.

Joel (2m 57s):

Nice. So give us the Pillar elevator pitch for those who haven't heard it or are aware of the company. Not just an awesome sweatshirt.

Chad (3m 7s):

It's lavender.

Mark (3m 8s):

Pillar is an interview intelligence platform. We help people get more understanding of interviews. What happens within interviews for coaching and DEI purposes, but for hiring managers, we give them insight into who the right candidates are to hire with no bias faster and just in a better way.

Chad (3m 25s):

Let's take a look at current news and hiring. How do you hire in Ukraine today?

Mark (3m 29s):

Oh man. Okay. We said no current news than we are you, you just do current news. Well, I mean, I can't ask that question. I actually, one of my, one of my companies we did have about 200 or so people in Ukraine, we had people in Kharkiv. Ukraine is amazing. People I probably need to email a few people checking they're all right right now. But hopefully everything settles down in Ukraine. It's a great place, but Kharkiv is a great place to be right now.

Joel (4m 12s):

A bit of a theme on that, which is remote work. And everyone's dealing with a remote workforce. What advice would you give as a CEO and a builder of businesses in the new state of work from home, remote, remote employees, like tips or tricks you got for the audience?

Mark (4m 33s):

Avoid war and conflict.

Joel (4m 35s):

Good one.

Mark (4m 35s):

As ever in any company, whether it's remote or not. I mean, for me personally, it just comes down to being human. Like understanding your employees, putting yourself in their shoes, making sure that they get what they need out of life, you're getting what you need out of life. And just, I've always built my companies with, with a big focus on, you know, the team and building the team in the right way. And I think that goes, whether, you know, everyone has their own issues. People are in war zones, people are dealing with COVID. People are dealing with all kinds of things in their lives. And as long as you're human about it and set yourself up in the right way to help them, I think you'll, you'll always be successful.

Chad (5m 10s):

Going back to remote and staying in remote. This is the time where we, I think we've finally opened up to where we have to be more human. We have to have more human connections, not, I mean, not just with every day in our day-to-day interactions with employees, but with candidates. Right? So your thoughts, I mean, especially being a founder and having to hire people, but also working with organizations who have to hire, tell me this is something that is going to stay. It's not something that's going to go away.

Mark (5m 43s):

Yeah. I mean, I think everyone believes it's going to stay. I mean, I've hired thousands of people now over the last 25 years, I'm old. I mean, I think some of the fundamentals have always been the same, but there are new ways of just better understanding candidates, giving them a better experience. So they actually want to work for you rather than being forced it and giving more insight for the company itself to make sure you're putting the right people into the right roles. And I think actually the last two years have accelerated that movement by probably 10 years or so. And give us the opportunity to do the right thing both by the company and by the candidates. So, you know, a candidate should never get asked tell me about that job five times by five different people and have that repetitive situation.

Mark (6m 27s):

They should have a great experience as well.

Joel (6m 29s):

Okay, work from home isn't going anywhere, but settle an argument that Chad and I have. What are wages going to do in a work from home environment? Are you paying the same wages that a new Yorker would get to your Indianapolis staff? Are you paying Indianapolis wages and what should companies expect paying people no matter where they are? San Francisco, Toledo, Biloxi, Alabama, what's up, what's your view on salaries?

Chad (6m 56s):


Mark (6m 56s):

It's easier for me because I'm not a hundred thousand person company with salary bands that I have to adhere to. And those strict rules, which hopefully you can have, which isn't a particularly human way of doing things. So look, I think we pay people probably slightly above what, you know, official market rates should be, but we do that on purpose. We want to hire really good people into our roles and you know, we'll do anything in our power to get the best people into the business. And salary is one part of that. But I actually think that career progression, happiness in their role, challenging people, letting them advance actually are way more important than salary when it actually comes down to job happiness, like the numbers are probably a little secondary to some of those things when people are actually enrolled, but yet you have to pay good things to good people, particularly in today's environment.

Joel (7m 45s):

So I know you're not in New York, but New York you may have heard is now requiring companies over 40 people to publicize what the salaries are for those jobs.

Chad (7m 55s):

Oh Lord!

Joel (7m 56s):

Is that something you're in favor of? And do you expect to see that more and more throughout the country?

Mark (8m 0s):

It's not something I've thought too much about. Like, it is what it is. Some things are in my control. Some things are out of my control and you've got to control the things you can. Am I in favor of it? I don't necessarily see a problem with it. Yeah. I don't mind. We run a pretty open culture, pretty open environment. If we have to publish things like that, we'll publish things like that. We'll deal with it.

Chad (8m 21s):

You've been a founder four times over. Is that what I'm hearing?

Mark (8m 25s):

That is true. Yeah. Okay. Okay.

Chad (8m 26s):

So let's get into some founder nightmares. What are some,

Joel (8m 32s):

What keeps you up at night?

Chad (8m 34s):

What are some of the biggest nightmares that founders see? I mean, because there's so many different aspects, you deal with funders, you deal with staffing, product roadmaps. I mean, where do you, I mean, I'm sure those are all nightmares, but where are your biggest nightmares?

Mark (8m 51s):

I'm going to answer that question, what does it take to get a beer in a brewery? Could I?

Joel (8m 57s):


Chad (8m 57s):

We need a beer double up. Make sure we have tequila in it.

Joel (9m 2s):

All marketing people shouldn't be named Alexa, so you can go Alexa, send that email.

Mark (9m 8s):

Oh, don't, don't do that to her. You can't do that. I'll have a Pachenga please. Or tequila. I love tequila.

Joel (9m 17s):

Yeah, no worries. No more free sweatshirts from Alexa.

Mark (9m 20s):

You're getting nothing now for you.

Chad (9m 22s):

But that was bad. Alexa. I did not like that

Mark (9m 24s):

Founder nightmares. Okay. So apart from tanks, rolling into the town which you employ a ton of people?

Chad (9m 29s):


Mark (9m 29s):

Apart from that, I mean, as a founder, historically I'm things have changed over the years, right? So it used to be, it used to be funding and money. Like Jay genuinely, the thing that would keep you up at night would be.

Chad (9m 42s):

But not now?

Mark (9m 42s):

Not so much nowadays. No. I mean, it's a much easier sort of space to raise money in. And I know I'm going to be able to pay my team and you know, we're going to be okay. And I know we're gonna be able to invest in our product and that's going to be. Okay. Like genuinely, and not saying this because I'm on this podcast. It is people. It's like finding really good people has become so, so important. Not just for founders and growing company where, you know, everyone I hire from like zero to 10 people are gonna, you know, they're going to define the culture, the work ethic, the company that we have as we grow to a hundred people and they're going to do it as we grow to a thousand people. So fundamentally, you know, through every stage of founding a company like people are super, super important.

Mark (10m 25s):

I think the one thing that you see nowadays is even big companies are starting to realize this and CEO's have been saying this for years, right. CEOs go up and they stand on stage and say, people are the most important part of the business and they lie.

Chad (10m 39s):

It's total bullshit.

Mark (10m 39s):

They lie. It's just horrible.

Chad (10m 41s):

It's just like total bullshit.

Joel (10m 42s):

It sounds great though.

Mark (10m 43s):

It sounds great.

Chad (10m 44s):

It does sound good.

Mark (10m 45s):

But the amount that they have to

Chad (10m 47s):

Put that shit on a bumper sticker.

Mark (10m 48s):

Yeah. The amount they've invested in people is farcical compared to, you know, sales and customers and all these other things, which are supposedly less important than people that work for those companies. So, but now you actually kind of start seeing them realize that that lack of investment is, is hurting them. They're struggling to find really good people and you know, they're gonna have to do something about it. So, you know, I've only think it's just for founders. I now think it's for every company that people are the real sort of focus, the real thing that keeps me up at night.

Joel (11m 14s):

So I love how you say the first 10 people you hire are going to define the culture of the business. And I think most of our guests are beyond the 10 people, but I think in terms of culture to go back to the work from home, I think companies are struggling with, how do I build, maintain culture when everyone's at home? Do you have any tips for how to combat that?

Mark (11m 36s):

Yeah. Look, I think culture doesn't come from one person and we're past the 10 people mark as well. We we're growing quite nicely, but we still do. We're still very human about what we do. Ah, there it is. Thank you, Alexa. Oh, tequila and a beer. Wow. I'm spoiled. I'm spoiled by my team. Deliver that's culture right there. She knows. She knew exactly what I wanted. Thank you, Alexa. So look, we do a lot. I mean, just because you're at a distance, doesn't mean you can't be human doesn't mean you can't get to know your team. It may be takes a little more effort because you're not standing next to them in the office for us as a business, we get together very regularly once every six weeks or so.

Mark (12m 19s):

We'll all come together. We all do, you know, do our thing.

Joel (12m 22s):

Meeting in person, together.

Mark (12m 23s):

You'll get an in-person team onsite, team onsite. So, you know, even remote companies, I think, you know, you don't, you don't ignore the cost of an office. You spend that on getting people together and working together.

Chad (12m 37s):

Say that again, because I think many companies look past that and they think that there's a savings and that savings should actually be used to be able to bring people together. Now there's productivity in remote working from home, so on and so forth. But say that again. Yeah.

Mark (12m 56s):

I mean, there, I don't see those as any savings for a company in, unless you're maybe a huge use scale in people working from home because really that budget should be transferred into getting the team together, making sure the culture's there. Getting people, like we have social events, we're doing this, we, you know, all come together as a team to make sure that we know each other, get along with each other and can work hard and just have each other's back as team members, proper team members. So yeah, there's no savings. There's no money savings.

Chad (13m 30s):

So even before the pandemic just want to put this out there, Airbnb spent over a million dollars every year in bringing everybody into San Francisco to be able to do what Mark's talking about. These, these innovative companies, I think, is amazing.

Joel (13m 44s):

Which they'll easily make back with Chad's new Portuguese bungalow, by the way, just so everyone knows.

Mark (13m 48s):

That's just the commission on it.

Joel (13m 51s):

But yeah, that's just their take on that. We wanted to talk about Chad's take. You mentioned money and raising money and how easy it was. And it seems like Chad and I every week talk about another unicorn. We talking about another company getting tons of money. Is that sustainable? Like at what point does the back brake on the unicorn berthings or like, what's your take on that?

Mark (14m 14s):

That's an interesting question. You're putting me on the spot. I think the market is in a unique place right now, you know, can I see that being sustained for the next couple of decades? No. It strikes me that there's a lot of money pouring into businesses that won't be successful. I think at an early stage, the outset of taking tons and tons of funding is not a good idea because it distracts you from actually finding your true market fit and, you know, listening to customers and really building the business in the right way. You need focus and having a lot of money actually sometimes distracts from that focus in the early days. But as you scale the money, the money does help. When you found that focus and as you scale the business, it does help. But you need to get that proof first I think there are a lot of businesses that don't have that proof that are getting a ton of money that are going to collapse.

Mark (15m 3s):

No doubt about it.

Chad (15m 4s):

No, talk about that real quick, because we see unicorns taking a shit on a cash and you know, that's going to impact the roadmap. You know, that's going to impact the focus, right? What do you do as a founder to be able to ensure that you don't take too much money so that you don't lose to control too much control? I mean, that's gotta be hard for most founders, especially first or second time founders in this market.

Mark (15m 31s):

Yeah. Look, I think it's very easy to be as a founder to be complimented and distracted by big checks, but it's not always the right thing to do now. Big checks are the right thing at the right time of a business where, you know, you have a good customer base, you know, you're building the right thing and you just need to accelerate that business. But I think where the problem lies is where companies are getting funded, where they don't have that. They don't have the answers to all the questions yet, but they're still getting those big checks.

Chad (15m 59s):

Yeah. They've got great buzzwords. They've got AI. They've got DEI. They've got automation.

Mark (16m 3s):

Yeah. So does everyone. How do you apply it? So, so yeah, I mean, I think taking it to too early stages is a very big mistake. Building the company in the right way from the ground up early is right and then accelerating when it's the right time to accelerate is the right thing to do. And we'll see how the market shakes out. There's a lot of money still in VC. And it will take years, a decade more, maybe to realize some of the errors of our ways as it has done in finance, in, you know, over history as well. Yeah.

Chad (16m 37s):

So we know that you have a love for interviewing. Tech around interviewing what's your favorite tech outside of interviewing?

Joel (16m 45s):

Different kind of interviewing.

Chad (16m 46s):

What's your favorite type of tech outside of interviewing? What do you look at and think that's cool as shit? What can we do to purchase?

Joel (16m 57s):

Just say metaverse

Mark (16m 58s):

I was going say metaverse. You guys take a staple through my heart.

Chad (17m 2s):

Don't do it.

Mark (17m 3s):

We're going to build a metaverse for interviewing. There's no way. No, I generally, I look at things and I look at what got me into this space honestly, is I think there are big problems with the way companies deal with people and I want to solve those problems. And I think that, you know, bringing more humanity into the way companies treat people, bringing more humanity into the interview process where genuinely over the past few decades, I think candidates get a really crappy experience, I think is an exciting problem for me to go and solve. You did say outside interviewing, but I kind of brought it back to, did you like the way I did that?

Chad (17m 39s):

Very good. You could be a great politician.

Joel (17m 41s):

You're a Brit living in America. So I think you have probably unique take on the global, a global perspective. And Chad and I talk a lot about the rise of South America, of India and even of Africa. We have a European show. If you are interested in Europe, you should check that out, but we're talking a lot more and more about companies in Europe, getting money and wanting to come to America. Deveney any take on sort of the competitive landscape globally and how companies should look at that?

Mark (18m 10s):

Yeah. Is this going out in Europe? Because I don't sound anywhere near as intelligent in Europe.

Joel (18m 13s):

It goes everywhere, except Antarctica.

Mark (18m 15s):

Kidding. Look at, I mean, the world's a much smaller place and much more. It'