42. Managing 10x talent in the future of work | Michael Solomon, Co-Founder of 10x Management


Michael Solomon | Co-Founder of 10x Management


This week we catch up with Michael Solomon, an established entrepreneur and the co-founder of 10x Management, a premier tech talent agency, and 10x Ascend, a boutique compensation negotiation service. We explore what is 10X talent and why you should be using it, how some people manage to self sabotage their own work-seeking efforts, and the blind spots in current-day talent management.


Michael Solomon


Michael has also founded Brick Wall Management, Musicians On Call, The Kristen Ann Carr Fund, and the We Are All Music Foundation. With Rishon Blumberg, he is the co-author of Game Changer: How To Be 10x in the Talent Economy, a fascinating book that reveals the secrets to becoming a “10xer” for anyone in any industry. A must-read for everyone in HR.




[00:00:00] - Michael Solomon
Between artificial intelligence and automation, jobs are going to disappear and they're going to keep disappearing for a long time. Yes, there will be new jobs. There is churn, but not at equal proportions. There will not be employment for everyone.

[00:00:15] - Michael Solomon
We need to decide how are we going to keep people out of poverty when there's not enough work for everyone, and what will people do with their time, talent, and energy when they don't have traditional employment in the way that we think about it now.

[00:00:35] - Doug Foulkes
Welcome to Episode 42 of The Future of Work, the podcast that looks at every aspect of work in the future brought to you by WNDYR for their blog Chaos & Rocketfuel. We release two podcasts a month featuring industry experts and thought leaders discussing how work is changing and evolving.

[00:00:54] - Doug Foulkes
The future of work is now. I'm Doug Foulkes. And this week with WNDYR CEO, Claire Haidar, we catch up with Michael Solomon, an established entrepreneur and the cofounder of 10X Management, a premier tech talent agency, and 10X Ascend, a boutique compensation negotiation service. More about those later.

[00:01:16] - Doug Foulkes
Michael has also founded Brick Wall Management, Musicians on Call, the Kristen Ann Carr Fund, and We Are all Music Foundation. With Rishon Blumberg, he is the coauthor of Game Changer, How to Be 10X in the Talent Economy, a fascinating book which reveals the secrets of becoming a 10Xer for anyone in any industry. A must read for everyone in HR.

[00:01:42] - Doug Foulkes
Today we will explore what is 10X Talent and why you should be using it, how some people manage to self sabotage their own work seeking efforts, and the blind spots in current day talent management.

[00:01:55] - Doug Foulkes
But first, after Claire expresses some dismay at the similarity of the questions that are being asked to Michael about HR, we dive into the questions that should be asked in and around HR circles.

[00:02:08] - Claire Haidar
Michael, hello, so good to have you here with us today. One of the things that happened to me while I was preparing for this podcast today was I realized that a lot of the same questions are being off to yourself and Rishon as you guys are going through this [inaudible 00:02:26].

[00:02:26] - Claire Haidar
Naturally, you guys have just written a book together. You do very close work together. And I was listening to some of the podcasts that you guys have been on, reading some of the interviews, and my description, like the word that actually came to mind while I was planning was this feels like a bit of an echo chamber.

[00:02:43] - Claire Haidar
And so I want to dive right in, and I actually want you to flip things for us. I want you to talk about the questions that you feel companies are not asking right now, and the things that they really should be deeply understanding about talent that they're not considering. Take us out of the echo chamber.

[00:03:03] - Michael Solomon
I'm thrilled to do that. The biggest conversation that needs to happen internally that I don't think is happening enough at the high enough levels is the world has changed a gazillion degrees from where it was 18 months ago and certainly where it was 18 years ago. And how much has our HR system really changed and what do we need to be thinking about for now and for the next five years as work is changing.

[00:03:33] - Michael Solomon
And it's so evident that these conversations aren't really happening because the behaviors that we see mirror the behaviors that were happening 20 years ago. There are some subtle changes, but not big ones.

[00:03:44] - Michael Solomon
So I think the internal conversation is, what's changed and how do we address that? And at the top of the list is top talent is harder than ever to come by and really requires a different approach.

[00:03:58] - Michael Solomon
And then when you look at the approach the top talent needs, it's actually very similar to what millennials and Gen Z needs. And they're completely different than the generations that came before them. And I don't believe many companies have changed their policies and their behaviors based on the change in the marketplace.

[00:04:15] - Michael Solomon
So that's the internal question. The external question, and this speaks to hopefully what they come to a conclusion with as the internal answer, is they need to start asking candidates completely different questions than they've asked before and a lot more questions.

[00:04:29] - Michael Solomon
So most processes between a recruiter and a candidate, obviously they ask interview questions, but before they make an offer, they ask one question, what's your salary requirement? Maybe sometimes they say, What's your comp requirement? That's it. That's the only thing they ask before they make a job offer, as though that is the only thing people care about.

[00:04:50] - Michael Solomon
And by the way, let's say their goal was to make $200,000, but they got $175,000 offer from a company that met all of their other needs and was perfect fit for them in every other way, or they got a $210,000 offer from a company where the culture was horrible and their life was going to be miserable and nothing but work and pain. Do you think that those offers are like that money is all that cares and that these generations in this top talent is just going to go for the highest dollar? They're not.

[00:05:22] - Michael Solomon
How can you even answer that question without knowing everything else? Well, how much vacation time do people get and how much do they take? And can I work from home? And do I have to work specific hours? And is there room for growth?

[00:05:35] - Michael Solomon
And we've created a lifestyle calculator that allows people to contemplate all these things, which we can come back to later in our talk.

[00:05:41] - Claire Haidar
Okay, hang on a minute there. I actually want you to go into that right now. Okay, so you said something very interesting there. You said we should be asking more questions and different questions.

[00:05:52] - Claire Haidar
So I fully agree with you that the major question seems to be around that comp offer. Can you dig a little bit more into why more questions and what types of different questions?

[00:06:03] - Michael Solomon
So in that internal conversation, anybody who's got a real curiosity as they ask the questions, we'll start to uncover that top talent and Gen Z and millennials really care about their personal mission.

[00:06:18] - Michael Solomon
So if you don't understand what the basics of the human being that's sitting in front of you and what they care about, you don't actually know how to explain how your company fits into it, or maybe your company doesn't and you shouldn't be hiring that person. But just not understanding that bit, it's a very simple equation.

[00:06:34] - Michael Solomon
People used to hire people who could do a job, and the employees understood that they had to do what they were told at work. They would show up and the boss would say, "Have that on my desk at 3:30," and they would do it. There was no discussion. It was a very different culture for many, many, many decades.

[00:06:49] - Michael Solomon
That's not the same relationship that employees want to have with their employers anymore. And if you can't find the way that the candidates sitting in front of you fits in with your company plans and how it fits into their plans, you've got a mismatch, and it's going to be a very temporary relationship. You might as well hire a freelancer.

[00:07:07] - Doug Foulkes
Michael, from my side, nice to meet you. And welcome to the podcast.

[00:07:12] - Michael Solomon
Thanks so much.

[00:07:13] - Doug Foulkes
I'm going to almost continue on a similar vein, but maybe hit it from a slightly different angle. What would you say is the number one blind spot that you can see in the world of talent management at the moment?

[00:07:24] - Michael Solomon
I think the biggest blind spot is a lot of the people managing talents because it often goes to more senior roles are people who are not necessarily from the younger generations for the talent that they're managing and I'm not sure that they've done the homework to understand what's important. And I think that's a huge blind spot.

[00:07:45] - Michael Solomon
And I'll just go a step further because we talk a lot about blind spots in game changer. The first thing is you have to be open to it and ask other people what are my blind spots?

[00:07:54] - Michael Solomon
I do a survey once a year for everybody that I encounter professionally and personally in a year where I give them an anonymous survey to tell me about my blind spots. I want to know them. I want it on eleven. I don't need the sandwich nice stuff. I really want to know, where am I falling short? Where am I annoying people? How have I offended anyone if I have, which turns out I had one year. You just have to be open and curious.

[00:08:19] - Michael Solomon
And by the way, that's exactly what top talent wants, is they want an environment where they can get great feedback because that's how they continue to grow.

[00:08:27] - Claire Haidar
So tell us a little bit about the lifestyle calculator that you guys have worked on. I think that's a really important point to do that here.

[00:08:34] - Claire Haidar
Is this a tool, in your guy's opinion, that companies should really be taken seriously and have something equivalent, if not this tool when it comes to researching candidates?

[00:08:45] - Michael Solomon
So we have a company called 10X Ascend, which is a compensation negotiation advisory service. So we're helping people who have job offers, figure out how to negotiate them, and we get really in the weeds on helping them in that process.

[00:09:00] - Michael Solomon
In order for us to be able to succeed in doing that, we have to know what's important to that person because we don't assume it's just about salary. Of course, that's important, but different people have different needs. And over the course of the time that we've used this, I've never seen two people fill them out the same way.

[00:09:17] - Michael Solomon
You get 100 points and there are 24 different attributes that go into where you get to distribute those 100 points. They range from things like salary, equity, annual bonus, signing bonus, insurance and retirement benefits to location of work. Do you have an office or a desk? Do you have an expense account? Is there a relocation budget if you're moving? How long does vesting take? What equity are you getting? I won't go through all of them because I think it will take too much time.

[00:09:45] - Michael Solomon
But again, when somebody's done filling this out, the two pieces of feedback we get are, wow, I hadn't thought about that before. I'm really glad to have taking 15 minutes to really give some thought to what I want.

[00:09:57] - Michael Solomon
And then the second thing they say is, I'm glad you now understand what I want so you can help me. And then we build the whole negotiation around their preferences.

[00:10:06] - Michael Solomon
There is no reason that every company that is going to make an offer to a candidate should not be using some version of this. It gets trickier when is the company asking the question, but if you have 100 points, you can't put them all in one thing.

[00:10:20] - Michael Solomon
So you just start to get to understand and you get to present things a little differently. So for somebody, just to give an easy example, for somebody who really cares a lot about equity, if we're talking about a company that's not publicly traded, that still got private equity, knowing how and what to explain to that person about your equity and your equity plan is a really important thing for the person doing the hiring.

[00:10:44] - Michael Solomon
Because if your equity plan, let's say you're giving out options, if you have a 5-10-year exercise period, that's a very big difference than the companies that have 30-60-day exercise periods, that's a huge advantage.

[00:10:55] - Michael Solomon
If you don't even know how much the person values equity, you don't even know that you should explain that. There's so much nuance here, and it's not an endless time suck. And it doesn't all lead to giving more to the candidates, to the employee.

[00:11:09] - Michael Solomon
In a lot of ways, it works quite the opposite because you're able to give them a lot of things they want when you maybe can't give them all of the cash comp that they want.

[00:11:17] - Claire Haidar
It's so, so true. So you've touched on it. You've shared with us that you guys have this agency. Can you tell us a little bit very quickly, one sentence, what both yourself and Rishon. And not just about your book, but specifically about the agencies that you guys run as well, Michael?

[00:11:34] - Michael Solomon
Absolutely. I'm going to do the shortest version of this story I can. So 26 years ago, we started an artist management company in the music industry. We've managed people like John Mayer, and we still manage Vanessa Carlton and Citizen Hope and quite a few who many listeners will have heard and quite a few people who are not necessarily as well known. And we've been doing that for quite a while.

[00:11:56] - Michael Solomon
As the music industry got disrupted in the early 2000s, we started to think that we might need an alternate source of income. And after a lot of thinking about how to iterate or pivot or something, which wasn't exactly the right term, because we kept the entertainment company, we started the first ever technology talent agency, and this is for very high level freelance technology professionals, and we're their talent agent, and we help them find their engagements, we negotiate them, we contract them, we invoice for them, and we take all the pain out of it for them.

[00:12:28] - Michael Solomon
The value to the companies who come to us is that we have prevetted talent that we can spin up in usually days time. It's often the companies. And this is part of the reason we wrote the book that slow that process down, but we have people who are ready to go very quickly.

[00:12:44] - Michael Solomon
As is customary in most freelancing industries, there's a buyout provision that if you try and steal one of our freelancers and hire them full time, you pay us a buyout, which looks like paying a recruiter.

[00:12:57] - Michael Solomon
Because that would be happening 2, 3, 4 times a year, our tech clients, the tech talent, would ask us to help negotiate those offers if they fell in love with company. And that's where we built our muscles for negotiating full time job offers and then realized that there was an opportunity for a stand-alone service.

[00:13:16] - Michael Solomon
So 10X Management is the freelancer, Talent Agency, and then 10X Ascend, which was the most recent edition, is the negotiation services.

[00:13:24] - Doug Foulkes
I'm just going to take a short break to mention our sponsors, WNDYR and Pattyrn. At Wonder, they teach you how to work smarter, using tools that enhance collaboration and identify unnecessary barriers, breaking legacy behaviors before they destroy your team's professional productivity and personal health.

[00:13:44] - Doug Foulkes
Pattyrn is their new product that identifies trends across multiple platforms; email, calendars tasks, video, conferencing, workflow management, and it combines them to help each team member learn and grow as individuals, as leaders and in comparison to their peers in the marketplace overall. You can check them both out at wndyr.com. That's W-N-D-Y-R.com.

[00:14:10] - Doug Foulkes
And lastly, just before we rejoin Claire and Michael, if you are finding this podcast of value, please follow us on your platform of choice. Remember, we have new content published twice a month.

[00:14:21] - Claire Haidar
I know this is a bit of a controversial question that I'm asking you, but I'm curious because I'd love to unpack with you whether you and Rishon think that this is potentially a natural consequence of a globally connected world and work that this type of elitism is going to come into the workforce, okay? Or do you think that this is something that long term is going to cause problems for meanwhile, creating opportunities for a few select people?

[00:14:53] - Michael Solomon
Wow, that's a big question. So yes, what we do is inherently elitist, and I don't want to dance around that. We are providing services to the best in class people who are highly in demand.

[00:15:07] - Michael Solomon
The reason that we can exist is because there's a supply and demand imbalance. So I think let's call that what it is.

[00:15:14] - Michael Solomon
I do think that there's room, and we talk a lot about this in Game Changer, for the services we provide to exist in many fields, for many people, not just where the supply and demand imbalance is crazy, but where there is a supply and demand imbalance.

[00:15:29] - Michael Solomon
And I've seen so much opportunity for professionals who are good at the business side of things, are good at the negotiation side of things to help people who aren't. I mean, it's that simple and everybody has to be willing to recognize what their strengths and weaknesses are.

[00:15:43] - Michael Solomon
To answer your bigger macroeconomic global question, I think what we're seeing, and this is really hard to talk about, and it's a big topic of interest for me. We put a website out on this topic. I got to know Andrew Yang before he ran for president, on this topic, is the fact that between artificial intelligence and automation, jobs are going to disappear and they're going to keep disappearing for a long time.

[00:16:09] - Michael Solomon
Yes, there will be new jobs. There is churn. There's jobs that are going away, new jobs that are being created, but not an equal proportions. There will be far fewer jobs. There will not be employment for everyone.

[00:16:22] - Michael Solomon
And as a society, we need to decide two things: how are we going to keep people out of poverty when there's not enough work for everyone? And the second one is, what will people do with their time, talent, and energy when they don't have traditional employment in the way that we think about it now?

[00:16:39] - Michael Solomon
We built a website called The Day After Labor, which is trying to just educate people about what we're seeing. There's a lot of smart people, very smart people who think this is just like the Industrial revolution and the agricultural revolution, and that this is just churn, jobs are going to just appear, but new ones are going to be created in somewhat equal proportions. I am not of that score.

[00:16:58] - Claire Haidar
You saw this trend actually even starting to happen in the industrial revolution. So one of the very practical examples that I very often share with companies when we're working with them is if you just look at Mercedes as an example of this, they lost thousands and thousands of people on the actual production lines.

[00:17:20] - Claire Haidar
And yes, their design department went from four people to 8,000 people. But that shift from 4-8,000 did not equal the shift of the people who were replaced by robots on the factory floors.

[00:17:34] - Claire Haidar
If that was happening in the industrial revolution already, absolutely yes to what you've just shared. This is a problem, as you say, we're literally putting the wheels of motion for poverty into motion.

[00:17:46] - Claire Haidar
The other side of the seesaw is all of these people that are actually highly qualified, highly skilled people, what are they going to be doing? Two major questions that we need to be asking.

[00:17:57] - Claire Haidar
Do you believe that this is a model that you guys are going to be able to capitalize on, but that you see the train being that a lot of current recruitment and people representative agencies are going to have to adopt because things are going to become more elitist and more competitive?

[00:18:18] - Michael Solomon
The bad news is, yes, I think this is going to continue to go in this direction. And I think that what hasn't really been written about the gig economy is the gig economy is not a fixed state of being. The gig economy is essentially a rest area on the highway between the employed world we lived in and the unemployed world of the future. And I say that the easiest way.

[00:18:40] - Michael Solomon
The biggest example for the gig economy is ride share drivers. It was the perfect thing for people to fill in when they need time.

[00:18:48] - Michael Solomon
It works really well. And it's helping a lot of people who lost other jobs be able to make money quickly. The problem is as soon as we have autonomous vehicles, those jobs are gone again, and those people are then moving, maybe there'll be something else in the gig economy for them to move into, but a lot of them will be displaced, and then they're just going to be in the unemployable or unemployed category. And so I think that we are absolutely moving in that direction, for sure.

[00:19:11] - Michael Solomon
The good news is that the top talent, the top tech talent that we talk about, and that we work with, one of the great traits about that group of people and one of the ways that we identify 10Xers is people who love hard problems to solve and really, like the heart of the problem, the more excited they get. And the problems that we're talking about are really, really hard problem.

[00:19:32] - Michael Solomon
So while, yes, the elites are going to continue to have incredible job opportunities and they're going to continue to make more money, and it's going to be great for them, many of them are actually really focused on what to do about these issues. And I believe, because these are some of the best and brightest people in the world that they're going to start to figure out at least partial solutions, if not real solutions.

[00:19:54] - Doug Foulkes
Michael, in these podcasts, Claire is forever digging deeper down the rabbit hole, and I'd just like to pull back and try and simplify things sometimes. So in a nutshell, what is the difference between 10X Talent and average talent? If I'm recruiting, what are the differences?

[00:20:11] - Michael Solomon
I love working with the 10X Talent that we work with, not just because they're smart, but what they bring to the table is, and this is obviously a gross generalization, but this is really how we look for and look at talent, they're obviously very smart and very capable and skilled.

[00:20:28] - Michael Solomon
There's a lot of people who have those two things that don't go on with the rest of this list, which is they have a really high EQ, so they're not just smart, but they can communicate their intelligence in ways to help other people in the room understand their ideas.

[00:20:42] - Michael Solomon
They love solving big problems. They are lifelong learners. So whatever skills they have, they have a good sense will not carry them through the rest of their lives and they are continuing to learn new things, and not just because they're going to need them for work, but they're curious. They're curious about everything.

[00:20:59] - Michael Solomon
So most of the people that we work with, not only do they code however many software languages that they do, but they speak other languages. They play music, they do outdoor activities. This is a typical profile. They're very passionate and engage people.

[00:21:14] - Michael Solomon
They care about mission, and they often care about things that are not just related to themselves. So when you put that all together and then you add in, as I mentioned earlier, they like feedback, which is part of the way that they learn, and they're open to being wrong, which is because feedback is often what you're not doing right.

[00:21:34] - Michael Solomon
So they approach things with curiosity. When you put that all together, what you've got is this incredibly powerful human being that is capable in so many different directions.

[00:21:43] - Michael Solomon
On the flip side, if you just take a couple of those things away, there's something we talk about in the book called The Sabotage Impulse, which is you could have all of those things, except for if you're not open to feedback and you're not willing to admit error, you really have a very limited way to advance yourself because you're going to constantly bump up against your blind spot and never get past it because you're not willing to hear that it exists.

[00:22:07] - Claire Haidar
This list that you've just said here... I mean, as somebody who's built multiple companies, and Doug's wife is actually my cofounder, so he has very real insight into this as well. You definitely have that pool of people who are curious, high EQ, mission orientated, lifelong learner, life solving hard problems, and then a group of people who have all of that, but they have that sabotage impulse, and it literally just prevents any growth.

[00:22:37] - Michael Solomon
And it can derail the whole team, because often people who aren't willing to accept their responsibility for things are what I finally call a flamethrower or a blamethrower, sorry, which is where everybody around them is ducky and covering because you never know what's coming your way because nothing was their fault.

[00:22:57] - Michael Solomon
One of my favorite interview questions to ask is, please tell me about a time you made a mistake. And of course, I don't care at all about what the mistake was. Half the people tell me about a mistake and what they learn from it, and that's great. And how they took responsibility for it.

[00:23:12] - Michael Solomon
And then other people tell me about a mistake that they start out saying they made. And by the time they're done, they really explain how it wasn't their fault at all. You can tell which one moves forward in the process and which one does not.

[00:23:22] - Claire Haidar
How do you in an interview taste for that sabotage impulse? Is that the question that you're using to taste for that?

[00:23:28] - Michael Solomon
That is the question that I'm using a test for that. And you can definitely poke around a little bit in there because there's plenty of people who are smart enough to see what you're after. But if you get an answer and you suspect a little bit, you start to push on, well, it was your mistake, so how did you fix that? And then you start to hear, well, did they do anything to rectify whatever damage they may have caused? And then when they start to talk about that, they didn't rectify it or that they didn't do it, then there's often excuses that come and play there.

[00:24:03] - Doug Foulkes
Michael, we've been speaking generally about what you do, and I'm just going to turn it inward and just get a bit personal. Yourself and Rishon have got a set of skills that obviously you're using to massive advantage. Some of those skills will be overlapping. What makes it difficult for others to complete with you guys?

[00:24:20] - Michael Solomon
That's a really interesting question. And since we started 10X Management, which is almost a decade ago, there's been an enormous... I mean, there were people who were sitting in our space before, not with the same approach that we had. There's been a giant influx of companies that try and match talent with employers. Most of them are platforms and try and do it in an automated way, which I have all the respect in the world for, but talent is a little bit more complicated than that.

[00:24:50] - Michael Solomon
And what we can do by being what we describe as a personal shopper as opposed to a shopping mall, is real really understand somebody's needs. And because we work with our talent for long term, these are not people who are in between jobs and freelancing because they don't have a job at the moment. These are people who choose that lifestyle. We get to know them.

[00:25:10] - Michael Solomon
So we can really identify, in many instances, not just who has the right skills, but who has the right interest and the right experience to be able to take on a project. That's not to say that some of those platforms don't offer you a similar capability, but it's a lot more work on the employer side, on the company side, who's trying to bring somebody on.

[00:25:30] - Michael Solomon
The other factor is we have a very highly curated group of people, so there's no guarantee. I'm not going to say we've never had a problem on an engagement because that would be foolish, but it's much less let the buyer beware.

[00:25:44] - Michael Solomon
And the last thing I'll say is, we're really there. If there is a problem to try and resolve it. At least you get the sense that we look for people who don't try and run from problems, but we are also people who like to face problems head on.

[00:25:54] - Doug Foulkes
I'm just thinking, as you're talking about getting to know people and placing them. Has things got easier with the change to much more remote working in your experience now that people can work anywhere and do work anywhere?

[00:26:06] - Michael Solomon
Yes, 18 months or two years ago, when the pandemic started, we probably had 60-70 percent of our business that was remote, but there were a lot of companies that would not accept that. And we have examples in the book. And we have examples in life of people who really lost out on working with somebody fantastic, because in their head, they needed to see that person's fingers on a keyboard. Even though they didn't know how to write or read code, somehow having them in the office meant something to them.

[00:26:36] - Michael Solomon
And it's sad. And actually one of the reasons we wrote the book was to help move HR and leadership at companies in the right direction to be able to work with these people. And I'll come back to that in one second, but the pandemic really shifted the needle on that, which is wonderful. That particular element has moved rapidly in the right direction.

[00:26:56] - Michael Solomon
There's still issues where asynchronous work, a company wants it done during business hours, even though there's not any communication that's happening. And we don't quite understand if this person does their best work between 06:00 PM and 02:00 AM. Why you want them working between 10:00 and 06:00 PM. It just doesn't make sense to me.

[00:27:17] - Michael Solomon
If you need them for a call, of course, they need to be available. I'm not saying the whole world should bend to them, but so much of this is about allowing people to do their best work in the ways that they're going to deliver the best results for you.

[00:27:28] - Michael Solomon
And there's lots of issues in a physical location that come up that are terrible for software engineers and designers. Getting tapped on the shoulder when you're in a flow state, it takes a while to get into that state. And now you're working at peak performance and somebody taps you on the shoulder with something benign, but it might take you an hour or two to get back to that state. That's not good for the employer. That's not efficient.

[00:27:52] - Claire Haidar
Michael, I want to ask a personal question of you along this exact topic is, what comes after Labor Day for you and Rishon? What would I term becoming extinct in terms of what you guys do and then having to evolve towards a different state?

[00:28:09] - Michael Solomon
The good news is I don't see being replaced by an algorithm for what we're doing. It's not impossible. I mean, I even have penciled out some ideas about what a negotiation machine would look like, an actual algorithm that would create, and it wasn't just for what we do, but create a way of negotiating between two parties that's interesting.

[00:28:32] - Michael Solomon
I haven't pushed past just the initial thinking about it, but I don't think we're going anywhere. I think that there's too much nuance and too many variables in the deals that we work on. And frankly, the more valuable these high end people get, the more need there is for us.

[00:28:46] - Michael Solomon
And candidly, I'm old enough that I don't think I'm going to live through or at least be working through another 20 years when I might have to worry about that. But in the next 10, which is hopefully I'll be done by then, I think I'll be fine.

[00:29:02] - Michael Solomon
But that doesn't mean that I'm not putting time and energy into the problem because I think this problem about what people do in the future is massive, and actually, I really wish that we could create a national think tank to approach this problem with the level of seriousness that it's needed and that companies would lend their best talent because it's very hard for the government to get amazing talent. They do in some sectors where they really lend themselves to it, but there's so many places where government can't hire the greatest people.

[00:29:34] - Michael Solomon
And if there was a public private-partnership to approach this issue, I think it would be great. But the bottom line is, for most people, this topic of job loss in the future is not ranking as a top problem yet. And that's really what I'm focused on is people before the planet burns us to death, we're going to have another problem that's as big. It's not as big and then it doesn't affect every single human being the way the climate change does, but it's pretty big, and it's going to really affect everybody.

[00:30:03] - Michael Solomon
And for all of the people who are thinking, I don't have to worry about this. I have plenty of money or my job is not going away, how do you think it's going to feel to live with all that money and that comfortable lifestyle when there's massive numbers of people who... You're not going to be able to enjoy your money is what I'm trying to say. You're not going to be to enjoy.

[00:30:21] - Michael Solomon
You're going to have to build taller walls and have security. And and really, it's not going to be any real life at all. So let's figure out how we take care of each other and move into the next phase with a little bit more humanity than we have in the past.

[00:30:36] - Claire Haidar
Okay, so now we're going to a completely different tangent here, Michael. You're Rishon childhood friends, tell us the story about one of the most mischievous things you guys did?

[00:30:49] - Michael Solomon
Oh, goodness, there's quite a few of those.

[00:30:53] - Claire Haidar
I knew they would be, which is why this question is in here.

[00:30:57] - Michael Solomon
Well, let's see, there's a few things that are easy to talk about. Our entrepreneurial spirit started in high school, and that involves several businesses that were not completely legal.

[00:31:07] - Michael Solomon
So we threw keg parties for in high school, charging five or $10 ahead in various spaces in New York City and made some money that way, which was quite fun. One of the people we did that with has actually gone on to a life in the hospitality world and owns restaurants and still throws parties and made quite a living out of it.

[00:31:27] - Michael Solomon
We also had a fake ID business. That one is pretty awesome because there's a great business learning in there, which is, so we were doing this, it was illegal. We sold quite a few of them.

[00:31:40] - Michael Solomon
And at some point somebody came back to us and said, hey, dudes, you misspelled the word license on these fake IDs? Some bouncer called me out on it. Oh, that was interesting to know. And what we concluded after that was that this was the greatest defense we would ever have should we ever be caught and arrested.

[00:32:01] - Michael Solomon
So we kept licensed misspelled. And should we have ever needed to defend ourselves, we would have said clearly, this was a novelty item, never meant to confuse or defraud anybody in terms of getting into a bar since we didn't even spell the word correctly. The business lesson there is sometimes trouble and mistakes are opportunity.

[00:32:21] - Claire Haidar
I love it. I absolutely love it. Am I allowed to ask how many of these fake IDs you sold?

[00:32:30] - Michael Solomon
You're allowed to ask. I don't know. That I remember. I'm going to say, north of 70 and under 100, but I'm not being more specific because I really just don't remember. And that's the best guess.

[00:32:42] - Claire Haidar
You just don't remember. Okay. Very Interestingly. When I was researching both yourself and Rishon, it was very interesting to me that there's actually a love and a passion for medical, which is not often when you see coauthors, very lifelong friends, that type of thing. You two unique individuals, you tend to have both of your things.

[00:33:03] - Claire Haidar
But both of you in some shape or form are involved in medical giving back to the community, share with us with that a little bit. I'd love to know if it's just a byproduct of life experiences or if there is actually a deeper passion specifically for medicine?

[00:33:18] - Michael Solomon
I think it's a little bit of both, among other things. He's married to an OBGYN, so he's got medical all around him all the time. So that's for sure there.

[00:33:28] - Michael Solomon
And then our life circumstances are such that when I was 19, I dated a woman from, I guess 19-23 who was diagnosed with a rare cancer called the sarcoma. And she passed away from that. And that was a pretty informative thing at age 23 in our lives, her family and we at her request, along with some of her friends, set up a foundation in our name, which is now raised somewhere in the neighborhood of $25 million since then for sarcoma research and treatment and other programs for teens and young adults with all kinds of cancer, because that's a group that falls in between certain cracks in the cancer world.

[00:34:11] - Michael Solomon
So that was a personal experience. From that, I have ended up founding two additional organizations; one, 21 years ago, which is called Musicians on Call. It's now the largest provider of music to health care facilities in definitely in the United States, probably in the world, and growing really well. And I often refer to that as my first child because it was before I had kids. And it's just been so rewarding and so successful.

[00:34:39] - Michael Solomon
And then more recently, I found another music nonprofit that's raising money out of... It's called the We Are All Music Foundation, and it's raising money out of Wall Street and wealthy families to try and fund the best in class music nonprofits that focus on healthcare, music education, and poverty cessation.

[00:35:00] - Doug Foulkes
Michael, we're definitely coming towards the end, unbelievably of our time together. And it's quite interesting that you just started to talk about music. And the last question that I've got is really about where it all started. And the question I've been dying to ask for the whole conversation because it's something that I'm very passionate about, having grown up in the UK in the 1980s and listening to all that amazing 1980s UK pop music.

[00:35:23] - Doug Foulkes
My question is, why music? What got you into music? Maybe you could give us a couple of examples of some strokes of luck or circumstances that got you and music together?

[00:35:32] - Michael Solomon
I think if I'm really honest, being a teenager growing up in New York, we were exposed to children of a lot of music industry professionals. So I think we got to see that there was an industry behind the music that we loved at a pretty early age and even get a little bit of a sense of what that industry looks like.

[00:35:53] - Michael Solomon
And then the young woman I described who died in '93, her mother is one of Springsteen's comanagers, and her father is a Springsteen biographer.

[00:36:07] - Michael Solomon
So I was instantly indoctrinated into the Springsteen world. And we talk a lot about this in the book because we interview both Barbara Carr, who's the woman I'm referring to, as well as John Landau, in addition to a couple of other notable music empresarios and managers.

[00:36:27] - Michael Solomon
And we talk about Bruce is the first 10X that we saw. 10X are not unique to talent, and not just Bruce, but is everybody around him was a 10Xer. And part of what made Bruce the 10Xer was that he had surrounded himself with all people who were amazing.

[00:36:42] - Michael Solomon
And it was really that was such an informative moment. And then the other aspect of music as 18-20-year-old kid figuring out what I want to do with my life, the idea that I could keep wearing jeans, keep late hours, go to club, that was all great lifestyle choices.

[00:37:01] - Michael Solomon
And one of the nice things about the arc of our career is that as we reached our 40s, when that was starting to get older and not as appealing, the jeans were always appealing, but going out every night became less appealing, we pivoted into having this secondary business that didn't require that. So I feel like we had the best of all worlds and the timing, at least as far as it relates to that, worked out quite well.

[00:37:25] - Claire Haidar
Michael, we're coming to the end of the interview. I definitely think I could have a much longer conversation with you over dinner with some good music. But what I'd like to end on is is your and Rishon's book.

[00:37:40] - Claire Haidar
And one of the things I'd like to ask you here, just to really peak the interest of everybody listening to this is, tell us what are some of the reactions are from your readers that have surprised both of you the most?

[00:37:52] - Michael Solomon
The things that people have taken away are largely what we hope they would take away, but there's been a few interesting reactions that were a little bit less on the HR realization and a little bit more about the realization which we've already discussed on this about the future of work and what that looks like for humanity and for those, I don't want to plug another book while I'm in the midst of plugging my book. But Andrew Yang book called The War on Normal People is a must read.

[00:38:24] - Michael Solomon
If anything that you heard about the future of work and the disappearance of jobs resonated, definitely, check out the website I mentioned the day after labor and check out Andrew's book.

[00:38:34] - Michael Solomon
Back to our book, I think the biggest surprise was people who really had no idea about that. And even though it's a very small part of this book, it's really mentioned to give context to everything we're talking about, it was shocking to me how many people just had no idea that this is really on the horizon and near term horizon.

[00:38:52] - Michael Solomon
The statistics, the projections from everybody ranging from Oxford, PricewaterhouseCoopers, all credible sources are horribly devastating.

[00:39:04] - Claire Haidar
I fully agree with you. Yeah, it is. It really is something that we as a company and myself as an individual are deeply passionate about. It's a big issue.

[00:39:15] - Claire Haidar
And on the flip side of this, I serve on the board of UNICEF, one of their regional boards here in the US, and so naturally, we're looking at it through the numbers that impact children because it's UNICEF and it really is devastating. It is something that the world really should be paying more attention to.

[00:39:35] - Michael Solomon
It's happening. And unfortunately, the unemployment numbers don't always reflect it because the way our unemployment system works, people who gave up on looking for a job are no longer considered unemployed, even though they are. They just couldn't find anything so they stopped.

[00:39:53] - Claire Haidar
Michael, thank you so much for being here with us today. It's honestly, it's been a great conversation. I came into it knowing that I was going to learn a ton from you and I did. And really looking forward to working with Doug on the production of this one and getting it out there into the world.

[00:40:10] - Michael Solomon
Totally my pleasure. And I'd be happy to do it on any topic that I know anything about any time. I really enjoyed it.

[00:40:17] - Doug Foulkes
Well, I'm sure we could find more to ask Michael. Such a knowledge and experience base for all topics HR. We hope that you've enjoyed this podcast.

[00:40:25] - Doug Foulkes
If you have, we would appreciate that you follow us on your preferred platform and share with your friends and colleagues. Just a reminder, for more information about WNDYR and their new product Pattyrn, you can visit their website. That's W-N-D-Y-R.com. And so from me, Doug Foulkes and Chaos & Rocketfuel, stay safe and we'll see you soon.

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