Robin Richards: "Businesses isn’t that hard. Go fast, treat people right, give them clear instruction."

December 22nd, 2016
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“Businesses isn’t that hard. Go fast, treat people right, give them clear instruction.”
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I’m passionate about candidate experience and how companies treat the people that apply to them, so to meet Robin Richards and find a kindred spirit, was such a pleasure. If I could uproot my life and go work for him, I would have in a heartbeat because finally, there’s someone on the scene that really understands what it is to be a candidate.

 I understand you’re a serial entrepreneur.

Yes a bit addicted to it. Built and sold five companies. One of them we sold to Blackboard which is a learning management system for schools and universities.

I know Blackboard. I operated on it. When I was in high school, back in the day.

Yeah. A few days ago.

Haha, I’m not as young as I look.

I’m just kidding. Prior to that was the mp3.com which kind of changed the world a bit with a few of my partners.

Just a tad!

Yeah. Prior to that, also changed the world a little bit, was the tickets.com, the first online ticket ever sold. Prior to that, we were the first B2B telemarketing company in the world. Prior to that, I did vending machines.

Wow, that’s an incredible story.

Well, I’m not sure I’m qualified to work for anybody, so I have to work for myself.

What did you take from building businesses into recruitment?

You should take a look and say where is the technology, letting down the customer and what can we do to change it.

Is tech disrupting recruitment then?

The use of technology is changing how we interact with businesses. Once upon a time it was difficult for somebody at the bottom to have anything to say about anything right? Now, everyone has a voice. It’s simple as a review site. Go to Glassdoor. Go to this and say ‘they didn’t treat me right when I applied. They don’t treat their employees as good as they should when they leave’.

So your brand is now more important because you need to attract the right people.

Exactly. They spend a lot of time trying to figure out how to pretty up their resume for you. Most companies don’t even get back to the candidates they don’t choose.

Has there been any times you didn’t get that employment piece right?

Have I made mistakes, absolutely! Have I made mistakes with employees, very seldom. Treat everybody with respect.

What if you let them go?

Doesn’t matter. We go into full gear helping them find a new job, regardless of whether we terminated them, whether we have a layoff, whether they quit. We offer 100% of the people an opportunity to help.

If an employee came to you and says ‘I want to leave because I don’t like it here’, you would help them find a new position?

100%. Employees have choices and that’s what corporations sometimes forget. Put your ego at the back. Change your mind when your idea is wrong.

I wish more people thought like that.

Well, don’t worry. It’s happening. Employers have been in the driver’s seat for so long, they’ve forgotten that nobody is always in the driver’s seat.

What wins for you, culture or salary?

If you don’t have the right culture you’re not going to work, but I’m not going to get people for a minimum wage, I don’t care how great my culture is. You have to pay people properly.

How much of your previous business success do you attribute to that great culture?

Well that’s good question! I would say a great deal.

Give me a percentage.

Percentage is the tough thing of course. I don’t know… 51% at least.

If you’re giving advice to people that are building companies, what’s that golden nugget of advice?

If you’re starting a company, make sure that you hire people that have the capability and desire to think like owners.

Everyone in the business should think and believe as if they’re owners of the company?

Absolutely! Business isn’t that hard. Some businesses are, but service businesses aren’t that hard right?  Go fast, treat people right, give them clear instruction.

But why should I think like an owner? I’m not getting any of the profit. Why should I take on all that responsibility?

100% of my employees or 100% of my companies have had equity.

If you could go back in time and tell your younger self something, what it be?

Don’t get old. I think just appreciate the journey.  I‘m a victory junkie. I like to win but I would say, understand that there’s almost nothing that is absolute. You can always change it. You can always fix it. Don’t overreact to the negatives. It will change. Stay the course. Be yourself. Be innovative.

What does The Movement mean to you?

I think the most important thing in the world economy is people. I think that we have the capability of dealing with people in the workplace in a smarter and more genuine way that will promote productivity and good will. That’s what The Movement is.

What does the future hold for career arch?

Career arch will be complete when 100% of the people that leave a corporation, get helped by that corporation to land on that next opportunity.

Why is it so important to you?

Because it’s doable. It is so aggravating that it is so doable, yet there’s so many people left out. Who needs more help getting their next job, a vice president, or a clerk at a mall running the cash register? They need help most of all, yet they get left out.

I’m with you 100%. Totally bought. I’m so in on this. (This really might be the best thing I’ve heard in business).

In the next 4 years, there won’t be a single employee that leaves a single company, that doesn’t get transition service to get to their next job.

What is the best thing you’ve ever learned in business?

When to inject myself into the river, and when to let it flow without my thoughts, without injecting myself because all of us believe that in every turn, in every inch of the river we can make it go faster, make it go to the left, make it go to the right, better than anybody else. I think what you’ve learned over time is that there are times for patience, and there’s times for no patience, and you have to know the difference.

Speaking to Robin really made me think about the people in business. It was so nice to look at business from the perspective of someone other than the business. We get so wrapped up in companies and what they’ve done, it’s easy to forget the small people down on the ground, who are actually building those businesses day in, day out. Robin reminded me of the importance of the little man. Forget these big corporations, power to the people I say! (Or something like that).

Would you like to work in recruitment in London?