As part of my series about the “How Business Leaders Plan To Rebuild In The Post COVID Economy,” I had the pleasure of interviewing Josh Jordan.
In the current economic turmoil, Josh has a 360-degree perspective as Prehired’s founder and CEO. One reason is, Prehired has interviewed thousands of people from countless backgrounds (rideshare drivers, restaurant and retail workers, military veterans, single working mothers, pastors and many others) who want to switch careers. Josh’s leadership has helped 700+ people break into tech sales so far, as part of the bigger mission to help 10,000 launch six-figure sales careers by 2024. To pave their paths into the best jobs, he’s also led securing hiring partnerships with hyper-growth tech companies like Amazon AWS, Drift, Outreach and ZoomInfo. What’s more, Josh has talked to hundreds of sales hiring managers across the U.S., who know both their companies’ financials and how the many industries they serve are faring. Plus, for outside insights, Josh talks weekly with millionaire and billionaire investors who own stakes in several of the world’s biggest businesses. Applying what the economy’s key players are thinking to serve those most serious about building new careers helped Josh win Sales Hacker’s Top 10 in Sales Leadership award from more than 5,000 nominees worldwide.
Thank you so much for your time! I know that you are a very busy person. Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?
The moment my knuckles slammed into a Yakuza mafia member’s face in Japan is what jumps to mind. The gangster just looked at me, stunned. I thought he’d pull a gun. Or maybe a knife. Or some crazy-sharp samurai sword. Then, after what felt like an hour, his stare softened. He grunted, “Gomen’nasai” (“I’m sorry”) and walked away. I didn’t mean to punch him (I was yanking at a stuck sauna locker when it flew open), but it could’ve got me killed.
Thankful for my life, I wanted to make the most of it. I was in Japan to teach English before switching to a sales job, working for a revered CEO from New Zealand, who bootstrapped 18 companies. I walked into his office as a 24-year-old kid after his entire sales team had quit to work for a competitor. He needed someone loyal to invest in, and I needed guidance, even though I started in sales at age 18 selling ADT home security systems. So he agreed to mentor me for two hours a week, on top of the work we were doing together. His insights made me want to start a business when I got home.
That was much harder than I hoped for, though. I landed home in South Carolina to a brother with a brain tumor, a wife who spoke little English, hardly any money in my bank account, and no work prospects because I didn’t have professional contacts yet. That was rough.
When I got my bearings, I saw an investment pitch competition hosted by AOL’s founder, Steve Case, was coming to town. There were around 30 different companies set to present, so I picked one I thought had the best chance of winning and contacted them. I offered to build out their sales pipeline and generate sales, so they’d stand out and, hopefully, win the $100,000 grand prize. Being a startup, I told them, “The only payment I want is the PR when we win, so I can start my sales consulting company.” And we did.
After helping software companies build better sales processes for a few years, I noticed they’d often say, “Now that we have a better sales process, can you help us hire more people into our company?” I then interviewed 100+ other sales managers at software companies to confirm the need and see what applicants were missing. That’s how Prehired was born to train star tech salespeople.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘take aways’ you learned from that?
This isn’t a story from when I was starting Prehired but from when I was starting my sales job in Japan…
I was supposed to meet with the CEO of Research in Motion’s Asia division. We were emailing to set the time and location, so I proposed a nice coffee shop near downtown Tokyo. He agreed, and I replied telling him he could pull up a map on his iPhone.
Minutes later, I got this message back: “Don’t you even know what we do…”
I screwed up big time. I knew Research in Motion made Blackberry phones, which were still popular back then — and Apple’s biggest competitor. I just wasn’t thinking when I sent the reply, so I lost the meeting. (I had to get one of my sales reps to reach out for the meeting a few months later, which he got.)
So my takeaway was to focus on exactly what I’m doing right now. Otherwise, I can make HUGE mistakes.
Is there a particular book that you read, or podcast you listened to, that really helped you in your career? Can you explain?
My favorite is the Bible. Not just because I’m a Christian, either. The people in the stories are great influencers. They moved people to shift their beliefs, which is hard to do even these days, let alone when you could get killed for what you believed.
I especially like studying the books in the Bible where the authors documented Jesus’ life. He was born in a nowhere village called Nazareth, yet he became a Hollywood-level figure during Roman rule 2000-something years ago because of what he said and did. He spoke wisdom on topics many people never thought about, claimed anyone could have eternal life through him (because he was the Son of God) and performed miracles. That sounds ludicrous, right?
And yet, Jesus and his followers created one of the largest religions in the world, which it still is. Even our calendar system is based on him (“A.D.” stands for anno domini, Latin for “in the year of the Lord,” referring to Jesus’ birth. And “B.C.” stands for “before Christ.”)
Putting aside whether one believes Jesus was who he said he was, the man influenced an entire people and entire generations through today. Countries and empires have come and gone, but this man’s belief systems are still in place.
That makes him a master influencer or, if you’re in sales, a master “salesperson.” Imagine if Jesus had Instagram. I’m joking. Jesus had no technology and is still among the top influencers the world has ever known. I love studying people who’ve had a huge impact on others like that.
Extensive research suggests that “purpose driven business” are more successful in many areas. When you started your company what was your vision, your purpose?
Working in sales since age 18 across a few industries showed me how brutal it can be. Many salespeople work way more than 40 hours every week and still struggle to pay their bills. It’s a weird profession because it’s both the lowest paid and the highest paid at the same time. Where you are in that income scale isn’t just based on your mastery, either. Your industry makes a huge difference.
Since I was doing consulting for tech companies, I saw how much money flowed through that industry. Salespeople can get paid just as well as engineers, and often even better. They also usually can level up to six figures faster than the techies.
So I started Prehired to fill a big need I saw for solid tech salespeople, and I was excited to help the starving salespeople from other industries finally do well. (Nowadays, more than half the people we help have no sales experience, but it’s just as fun to give the retail workers, restaurant workers, rideshare drivers and others a hand up.)
Do you have a “number one principle” that guides you through the ups and downs of running a business?
Define the destination and count the cost. In other words, figure out exactly what you want your business to look like in one, three and five years. And then write down every cost in time, money and stress you’ll probably need to get there. Figure you’re going to need two or three times what you wrote down.
Most people give up on their goals because they don’t first count the cost of what it’d take to succeed, if they even know what success is for them.
Thank you for all that. The Covid-19 pandemic has affected nearly every aspect of our lives today. For the benefit of empowering our readers, can you share with our readers a few of the personal and family related challenges you faced during this crisis? Can you share what you’ve done to address those challenges?
I’m happy to say I didn’t have any family-related challenges. My wife (who doesn’t work) kept our one-year-old son away from crowds and my brothers and parents stayed healthy, too.
Can you share a few of the biggest work related challenges you are facing during this pandemic? Can you share what you’ve done to address those challenges?
I cut my pay way down, so I could afford to keep my staff working. They needed to take cuts for a while, too, so doing that was a no-brainer to show we’re all in this together. I also showed my team their options for getting federal aid money to make up for what I couldn’t pay them for a while (we’re back to paying everyone normally now).
Thankfully, we help people launch sales careers in a growing industry (software and tech companies), so the downturn was only a couple of months for us. Our investors needed reassurance when the shutdowns first hit, since our business model is to only get people once people are working. Our data and insights on how sales teams hire helped us plan and come out even stronger.
Also, my team has always worked remotely across the U.S., so we didn’t have any issues with people missing work because they couldn’t come into an office.
Many people have become anxious from the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. The fears related to the coronavirus pandemic have understandably heightened a sense of uncertainty, fear, and loneliness. What are a few ideas that you have used to offer support to your family and loved ones who were feeling anxious? Can you explain?
Whenever I’m afraid, I remind myself, “Life is 10% of what happens to us and 90% of how we react to it.” I also share that with others.
More specifically, whenever you’re nervous about anything, I suggest first clarifying what you’re worried about happening and then what options you have to prevent that. If you struggle with that process, find a mentor who’s been through a similar situation before.
Obviously we can’t know for certain what the Post-Covid economy will look like. But we can of course try our best to be prepared. We can reasonably assume that the Post-Covid economy will be a trying time for many people across the globe. Yet at the same time the Post-Covid growth can be a time of opportunity. Can you share a few of the opportunities that you anticipate in the Post-Covid economy?
Expect automation to speed up, since it’s what drives costs down faster than anything else. Companies want to run lean after the Covid losses. They’re afraid of what another pandemic wave could do.
Also, since people have been working from home for months now, many employees don’t want to go back to office life. Enough companies will offer remote working as a perk to put any company who doesn’t at a severe hiring disadvantage. For example, Twitter announced on May 12 its employees can now work from home forever. Google and Facebook also announced many more employees can work from home going forward. So working wherever you want will become the norm.
Third, people are going to seek out security. They don’t want to lose their income if another pandemic sweeps in. They want to be able to work from home if they need to, save and take care of their families well, and spend more time with their loved ones, even if not as much as during the quarantines.
Of course, many people need new career training to switch jobs. And they’re not going to colleges or universities, because they don’t have the time for it. They don’t want to take on a ton of debt with no job guarantee, either. They want focused training where you only pay for results.
How do you think the COVID pandemic might permanently change the way we behave, act or live?
For one, the quarantines showed many people going to colleges and universities what they were really paying for. Yes, many employers still like to see degrees, yet many others like Google, Amazon, Apple, IBM, Tesla and Netflix don’t require them anymore. Even President Trump recently signed an Executive Order for federal agencies to do much more merit-based hiring instead of looking at degrees. Expect that trend to continue.
Also, while the on-campus experience is fun, yet there’s no way that will be worth graduating with huge debt and no job waiting compared to the alternatives now available online. So many people who get degrees wind up working part-time jobs and struggle for more than a decade with the debt. Many colleges and universities will go out of business as people switch to skill-focused training with lower costs and job guarantees.
I also think people will shift more to home-based entertainment (movies, video games, music, etc) instead of going out to movie theaters and places with big crowds. Of course, many people will still go out, but remember, in-person entertainment tends to have a low profit margin. So a small drop could force a company out of the market.
Considering the potential challenges and opportunities in the Post-Covid economy, what do you personally plan to do to rebuild and grow your business or organization in the Post-Covid Economy?
I decided to offer software companies consulting and also free hires through Q3 2020. That’s helping them through an unsteady time, and I’m happy to make the investment now to give our members more great companies to work for.
On the admissions side, I’ve set a mission to help 10,000 people start six-figure software sales jobs by 2024. That’s inspiring my staff to find creative ways to help more people, like reaching out to folks having a hard time paying bills. Many of them never want to be shut out of work again like they were during the covid crisis.
I’m also starting a non-profit foundation called WePay, to help people in need by giving them money. Of course, there will be criteria, but I’m excited to help others from the success I’m blessed with.
Similarly, what would you encourage others to do?
This is a great time to reflect on what’s important to you. Every crisis brings new opportunities, so take some time define your new destination and then count the cost to get there.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help other people get what they want.”
That’s from Zig Ziglar, who was a great example of someone good at sales because he focused on serving people. Money is just the byproduct of helping people, after all. It flows wherever the greatest pain relief happens.
How can our readers further follow your work?
The best way is our company blog at https://www.prehired.io/blog.