I have been a reasonably successful headhunter for most of my career. However, in that time, I had never found my own career fulfillment.
Until three months ago.
I started recruiting in New York City exactly 16 years ago on July 5, 2000. I was eighteen years old. (Before my interview, I thought a recruiter was who you went to see if you wanted to enlist.) I had just moved there on a whim the week before from San Diego, two weeks after my high school graduation. It turned out to be a hyper-aggressive sales culture with crazy high turnover. (Which is probably why they hired an eighteen-year-old with only grocery store and pedicab experience.)
I got assigned to work for a crafty vet who was a dinosaur in that office because he had been there over 10 years. He was also one of the few people there at the time to only work with big banks. He was very bearish on start-ups and dot-coms. There was zero training. On my first day he threw me a Bear Stearns internal directory (which I later discovered was acquired for a hundred bucks through the shadowy underworld that is the recruiting black market) and said that he expected me to have five people send their resumes by the end of the day. I started dialing for dollars. Every time someone answered, in a hushed voice I would say, "I'm a recruiter, can you speak with me?" (as if I was trying to recruit spies for the CIA) No one sent me their resume.
A few months in, most of my contemporaries were killing it doing fast deals with dot-coms while my “sensei” had me doing the recruiting equivalent of waxing cars and painting fences by only focusing on boring brick and mortar banks. I vividly remember a charity happy hour one of the fellas treated me to, at which he said, “You got screwed getting stuck with that old loon.”
Less than a year later that “old loon” got the last laugh. The dot-com bubble had burst and the recruiting industry in NYC shrunk by 75%.
I recruited for investment banks and private equity firms in New York for five years before deciding to move back home to San Diego.
I went to work for another crafty vet who was a very successful finance recruiter with a great reputation. In the four years I was there, we grew the company from two people to thirteen. Eventually, I gave into the notion that I knew everything about this business and I should be working for myself. (When I look back on that I always think, "That was cute.") I started Jacob Capital Group in 2009. (Every time I talk to my old boss now, we belly laugh at how easy I thought his job was.)
Working for myself did nothing to enhance my happiness. By societal standards, I was successful. But I could not get to a point where I truly enjoyed the work.
It hit me like a thunderbolt one day that I actually hated selling.
Discovering that you hate to sell is bad news for a headhunter. (It's kind of like a kindergarten teacher finding out they hate kids.)
I was on a call with a financial advisor who was in the final stages of moving to a brokerage I was representing when he asked me what the difference was between them and his current firm. I launched into some canned spiel about their technology and culture, he cut me off and said, “C’mon Josh, that’s bull****. The truth is I’m going because they’re writing me a big check to move but the two are practically the same.”
He was right. I was finally able to distinguish what I didn't like about my job: I made little contribution. I was just a middleman who beat the others like me to him.
An inquiry into how we could become more than just a “necessary evil” in the industry is what led to the creation of Tidestreet.
Anyone in financial services who is great at their craft always has choices. There are talent agents for athletes and actors. So why not for bankers, financial advisors or frankly anyone who is good enough at their job that their industry would consider them an opportunity to hire? I had spent so much time trying to squeeze people into companies. Why not help people fit the right company around them?
Welcome to Tidestreet.