The serial entrepreneur and CEO made his name by challenging status quo definitions and practices, and his new book–about how to recruit talented people today–is no exception.
Ryan Breslow is a founder of multiple companies, including fintech company Bolt, the sponsoring company of Conscious Culture. I met Ryan a few months ago when we began to talk about Conscious Culture’s opportunity to radically change work cultures for the good of the people. In person, he was both exactly as I expected and different. He’s energetic, self-assured, and smart . Ryan is under 30 and his list of achievements is a bit overwhelming. He’s also engaging and personable–the kind of person you’d strike up a conversation with in the grocery aisle. Ryan’s passion for making life–both at work and the rest of our time–better is evident in every interaction.
He and I had a conversation on his recently released second book, Recruiting. Given that I recently went through a recruiting process with Ryan and his team to join Conscious Culture, this chat gave me a chance to reflect on my own recent experience as well.
Heatherly: Let’s start with who you are–how do you introduce yourself when you are not “at work”? And does that differ from how you introduce yourself in “work” situations?
Ryan: When I’m not at work, I tend steer clear from sharing my companies and roles. I like to build an authentic relationship first, and oftentimes when you start with credentials, it sets a relationship off on the wrong footing. Within work, everyone knows who the CEO is, so I like to point out things I do for fun (e.g. dancing) to give people a greater sense of who I am.
H: I can certainly relate–outside of work contexts, I seldom lead with what I do professionally. I find it fascinating that so often we want to label people at first meeting with the “what do you do?” question. It can draw a box that we stick that person in and then we miss out on actually seeing the depth and complexity of that person. This can often happen at work as well–defining people only by their degree, current role, or skill set. You’ve recently released a new book, your second, titled Recruiting, and seeing the whole person during recruiting touchpoints is part of what you share. Let’s talk about the book. What inspired you to write Recruiting?
Ryan: My mission is to take all my learnings from building my own companies and share them with the next generation. There’s nothing I find more rewarding.
In that vein, there is nothing more important to company-building than recruiting. It’s something founders ask me about all the time. There’s an enormous learning curve, and that curve can be shortened substantially with a playbook. No one has published an effective playbook on recruiting to-date, so I thought why not me!
H: And, your book is here at an interesting moment in our society as we grapple with questions about work. Much has been written recently about the Great Resignation, at least for the United States. What are your thoughts on this? How should companies be responding?
Ryan: We are at a tipping point and companies must be willing to respond and change behaviors. The question you’ve always got to ask yourself is: why is someone coming to work at my company? Is it because of our conscious culture? Is it our incredible team that they can learn from? Is it our product that’s pushing the world forward? Is it the values the company stands for?
These days, pay is not enough. If you can’t answer the question why, workers of the future will not be joining your company. At Bolt, for example, we do bold experiments, such as a four-day workweek, that yielded so much positive for our people and the company that we’ve made it a way of work life in 2022.
H: For people reading your book, what is one thing you think will surprise readers?
Ryan: Recruiting abides by the principle “you get out what you put in.” There are few shortcuts. Recruiting takes a ridiculous amount of time and focus. To implement any of the advice I give in the book takes time, attention, and effort.
H: And creativity. You’ve mentioned that in addition to discipline, great team building requires thinking outside the expected recruiting motions. How can companies bring creativity into the process?
Ryan: There are so many ways companies can be creative in the recruitment experience. I think one easy place to start is the interview experience. Most of us have been a part of dull, boring interviews. Why are interviews like this? Is this what you want people to take away from interactions with your company? Instead, why not consider how to create an interview that is exciting and invigorating. Energy is contagious. What you put into interviews will help candidates show more of who they are. I’ve shared some other creative recruiting ideas on my Twitter feed, like recruitathons, referral programs, events (think metaverse maybe!), and more.
H: Your book is for the company and people doing the recruiting. Of course, most of us also are employees and experience the other side of this recruiting process. For someone looking for a great place to work, what is your advice?
Ryan: Work is going to consume a significant amount of your waking hours. Don’t compromise. Find a team that you really enjoy working with and that pushes you to grow. Find a company whose values you align with. Find a product that you care about making successful for the world. Too many people pick a job based on prestige and pay. These other factors are far more important, in my opinion.
H: It’s the start of a new year. What can you tell us about what you are working on in 2022?
Ryan: I am working tirelessly to
- Make Bolt the most dominant decentralizing force in the world for commerce,
- Bring crypto mainstream with Eco for everyone to use for daily transactions,
- Conscious Culture the default for forward-thinking companies, and
- Teach 100,000s of people how to dance at The Movement, and so much more!
Recruiting is available through Amazon in paper, Kindle, and Audible formats.