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Anatomy of A Failed Fastlane (What You Can Learn From My Mistakes)

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Contrarian

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Dude you’re literally nuts. This is a multi-million dollar idea any you need to patent it ASAP. How accurate is it as predicting On-The-Job Success? If it’s anything over ~80% you’re nuts (nuts nuts NUTS) for not pursuing it. You probably did a sh*t job of marketing it. Dude I don’t think this idea is ready for the trash can just yet. Dust ‘em off and get back in there.

Hmm.

I didn't create the performance-based job description. I borrowed the concept from a guy called Lou Adler (who undoubtedly is worth 8 figures): Performance-based Job Description

And that formed one step of the "7-Step Performance & Behavioural Hiring System" we went to market with.

When used in skilled hands, it's extremely accurate. 90%+. It never occurred to me to build a business selling my own hiring system, independent of offering a recruiting service.

You're right though. That should have occurred to me! I was pretty soured on the recruiting industry at that point.


Thanks for asking after me @MJ DeMarco

Yeah, things are going much better nowadays.

It's been a crazy nine months in the making, but I'm still getting my marketplace business in the tourism industry ready for launch. Knee deep in the desert of desertion for sure. There's a progress thread on the inside that badly needs an update. I've scheduled that in for tomorrow now.

I've just created a role for myself heading up marketing at the company I've been selling freelance for over the past year and a bit. Taking everything I learned from the recruitment business and from my marketplace so far. My goal is to quadruple their revenue in the next 12 months and I'm certain I can do it. So now I'm getting paid to do things that improve my ability to run an online business. And just in case my marketplace doesn't work, I'll be able to use that success (and my network) to launch a high-ticket B2B marketing agency.

I'm also doing freelance recruiting work to load up the savings account. Should have at least $50k in the war chest by the end of the year.

And @Kung Fu Steve 's coaching has been invaluable this past couple of months. I've gone from being overwhelmed by feeling like I've got too much on my plate to breezing through 14-16 hour days with a smile on my face. And dropped 18lbs to boot.

So tying this back to the thread. I regret nothing about the recruitment business. It taught me what I needed to know to do what I'm doing now. And what I'm doing now is teaching me what I'll need to know how to do next.

Even though I've already invested thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours into my marketplace business, I won't regret it if that fails either. I've already learned a massive amount.

For the sake of clarity, I'm not planning on failing. But it's an extremely complicated business model to get off the ground, so I do accept that it might not stick. If so - I've learned plenty enough already to make a more straightforward business very successful.

Process, process, process.
 
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Contrarian

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If your system is as accurate as you say it is, you need to get in on this ASAP. I’ll literally work on it with you if no one else will.

Bro do you know how much one bad hiring decision costs a company? I’ve heard averages anywhere between $5,000 and $10,000. I mean realistically it can be anywhere, but it’s very damaging.

Zappos used to prospective employees a deal. . After a successful interview and training they say off them $1000 plus the hours they worked to quit. You don’t have to work. You go home, sit on your a$$, and get $1000. Why? $1000 is literally nothing in comparison to a bad hire.

Harvard Business Review: Why Zappos Pays New Employees to Quit–And You Should Too

But again, if your system does what you’re saying it does, it’s big. Imagine a piece of software that could produce stock returns with 80% accuracy. And employees are way more important.

Your idea is good, but I see no good evidence of a workable marketing strategy and that’s your issue. What’s your WIIFM? “What’s In It For Me.” They need to know specifically how they will benefit from this idea. Okay cool, you can predict if an employee is good or not. I know the importance of that. You know the importance of that. They don’t. Now how does that benefit the client. Interview HR workers. Interview small business owners. Get horror stories of bad hires. And immerse yourself with stories about how a great hire can really help someone’s business. You’re no longer selling an algorithm.You’re selling great employees. Make that your sales pitch. It’s akin to saying “okay this computer display has a 4323 x 2323423 Megawatthertz Electrogasm pixel display”.. alright, what the sh*t does that mean lol... “Your pictures look so good they’ll make your head spin.” Also I think you need to target CEOs and shareholders more than HR. CEOs and shareholders have more ‘skin in the game,’ and these decisions directly impact their bottom line.

but bro, companies go through so much work to get good employees. They comb through boring resumes, put prospective employees through rounds and rounds of interviews, and still after all that are only relying on a gut instinct hunch. It’s an ancient, archaic system. You have a number. A score. Have you never seen Moneyball? Please watch that movie if you havent A similar system to what your describing was used to assess baseball players in the mid 2000’s and it flipped baseball on it’s f*cking ear. It was basically a “Player performance algorithm” and it literally changed everything about baseball and how players were picked.

View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-4QPVo0UIzc


View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yGf6LNWY9AI


View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jjf1O4jMqeM


I wrote a post on this a while back. I mean I’d pursue this or you’re gonna be kicking yourself in 2 years when someone comes up with something similar.

You're spot on about most companies' hiring processes being a complete train wreck.

Lou Adler who I mentioned above is a big name in the hiring world. And he certainly has a raving fanbase. But he and people like him are but a drop in the ocean in the overall market.

And this has always been my frustration with working in the recruiting industry. Nobody gives a shit. Hiring is something they only care about when they have an emergency, and then they usually want what's fast and cheap.

Compare awareness and adoption of Lou Adler's (or similar) principles in hiring to, say, Neil Patel in digital marketing. Or Miller Heimann or Challenger in sales. Marketers care about marketing best practices. Sales reps care about sales best practices. They only care about hiring when they're forced to care. Don't even get me started on HR!

There's an empire to be built there for sure. But it doesn't warm my heart.
 

ZF Lee

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Don't even get me started on HR!
I think I know where the shitshow all came from...
I'm working with 3rd year students on a group project, and one of them is doing a HR unit.

The entire ordeal is a ramshackle, and I'm like:
2gf7dv.jpg
 

Kung Fu Steve

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Hmm.

I didn't create the performance-based job description. I borrowed the concept from a guy called Lou Adler (who undoubtedly is worth 8 figures): Performance-based Job Description

And that formed one step of the "7-Step Performance & Behavioural Hiring System" we went to market with.

When used in skilled hands, it's extremely accurate. 90%+. It never occurred to me to build a business selling my own hiring system, independent of offering a recruiting service.

You're right though. That should have occurred to me! I was pretty soured on the recruiting industry at that point.



Thanks for asking after me @MJ DeMarco

Yeah, things are going much better nowadays.

It's been a crazy nine months in the making, but I'm still getting my marketplace business in the tourism industry ready for launch. Knee deep in the desert of desertion for sure. There's a progress thread on the inside that badly needs an update. I've scheduled that in for tomorrow now.

I've just created a role for myself heading up marketing at the company I've been selling freelance for over the past year and a bit. Taking everything I learned from the recruitment business and from my marketplace so far. My goal is to quadruple their revenue in the next 12 months and I'm certain I can do it. So now I'm getting paid to do things that improve my ability to run an online business. And just in case my marketplace doesn't work, I'll be able to use that success (and my network) to launch a high-ticket B2B marketing agency.

I'm also doing freelance recruiting work to load up the savings account. Should have at least $50k in the war chest by the end of the year.

And @Kung Fu Steve 's coaching has been invaluable this past couple of months. I've gone from being overwhelmed by feeling like I've got too much on my plate to breezing through 14-16 hour days with a smile on my face. And dropped 18lbs to boot.

So tying this back to the thread. I regret nothing about the recruitment business. It taught me what I needed to know to do what I'm doing now. And what I'm doing now is teaching me what I'll need to know how to do next.

Even though I've already invested thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours into my marketplace business, I won't regret it if that fails either. I've already learned a massive amount.

For the sake of clarity, I'm not planning on failing. But it's an extremely complicated business model to get off the ground, so I do accept that it might not stick. If so - I've learned plenty enough already to make a more straightforward business very successful.

Process, process, process.

I appreciate the love but you're the one walking the path ;)
 
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Phil Yu

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Aug 25, 2020
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Wow. I am supposed to be doing my CPA study but i spent the last hour reading your post. I read every single one, word by word. Thank you so much for sharing, i truly learned alot from your experience.
 

Contrarian

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Wow. I am supposed to be doing my CPA study but i spent the last hour reading your post. I read every single one, word by word. Thank you so much for sharing, i truly learned alot from your experience.

Wow, I'm really glad to hear this was useful to you Phil. You're welcome!
 

Zaent

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Aug 5, 2017
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Wow, I'm really glad to hear this was useful to you Phil. You're welcome!
Incredible thread in its own right but particularly so to me because of how much I can identify with your situation. I'm an agency recruiter in the technology sales space.

I landed in recruitment almost 3 years ago after moving to a bigger city for more opportunity. It was supposed to be a temporary gig, and I found it after reading TMF , but my eyes lit up when I saw the low barrier to entry in doing it alone and the seeming ability to earn ~£200k a year if you were decent. Because of that I've stuck around, thinking that I would soon get to the point of being able to go solo and save ~100k to invest in my own, more scalable projects.

My experience has been very similar to yours, albeit much shorter by the sounds of things. I put in the work and smashed it my first year, being the highest percentage against target recruiter of the ~15 in the agency. I had a smaller target than more experienced recruiters, but still beat out a few other newbies in the same boat as me. In 2020 with covid I did half what I got in my first year, and now in 2021 I'm jaded and unenthusiastic. My mind has been on automation and side hustles. I'm frustrated to sell a service that no customer values, even when delivered exceptionally.

Career-wise, I feel capable of bigger things. I'm commercially savvy and technically astute, with a first-class honours degree in physics. I only do this because of the potential I thought it held. The amount of competition, lack of respect for the service, and time-consuming nature of the work makes me feel like I might be best to cut the cord now and save myself the headaches you have experienced, though.

It's like you said, are the smart entrepreneurs flocking to the recruitment industry? It doesn't seem so. There's money to be made for sure, but it takes so much to be successful that I'm now thinking there's likely some far better options.

What, though?

I'm interested in your journey and any advice you might have, as well as any posts or mentors you might be able to point me to. Thank you for documenting your story and I hope things are going well.
 
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Student

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Apr 17, 2021
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I've been away from the forum for a while.

You may or may not remember me. Either way, that's not important.

I first came here two and a half years ago, a few months after reading TMF . The book that changed my life forever, although not as quickly or as much as I would have liked - for reasons of my own making.

Soppy stuff doesn't come easily to me, but I must take a moment to express my sincere and undying gratitude to @MJ DeMarco. I don't know where I would be or what road I would be on now had I not found the book or this forum, but I would certainly be a lot worse off.

When I first came here, I felt trapped in a job I absolutely despised, working for people I viewed with contempt, with others who hated it just as much as I did but who continued to work there year after year anyway.

I hated it so much I once watched back-to-back episodes of 24 from the moment I got home through to 7 in the morning, just to escape the reality of it. Yeah, almost a whole season.

I'd been screwed out of £15,000 commission from my previous employer, and fired with no notice for daring to discuss a business opportunity with somebody else and being naive enough to mention it to a snitch. Being the sidewalker that I was, I'd earmarked most of that money to pay off my credit card debt from living beyond my means. I had no savings whatsoever. I took the job because I had to.

Today, things are very different.

Thank you, more than words could ever express.

Bleurgh...OK, enough with the soppy stuff. :)

So what happened in the meantime?

A bunch of stuff. I've (almost) always worked in recruitment, so I spent a few months doing freelance recruitment. I investigated a bunch of ideas, one seriously, and which was massively beyond my financial means.

In the end, I created a recruitment business with a previous employer - one that I'd always stayed on good terms with, and kept in touch with.

I desperately wanted to start a business. I didn't have any money. I lacked direction. I was running away from more than I was running towards. Here I had a willing partner and investor. Here I had a ready-made escape. One that I took.

You wise folks will no doubt already be thinking - first mistake. And you'd be absolutely right.

This thread will chronicle the fifteen months that followed that decision. The mistakes, the failures, the learning points, and also the successes. I'll update this with a new post every day.

Tomorrow, I'll talk about the circumstances surrounding that first mistake. Why I made it, why deep down I knew it was a mistake even as I was making it, and why I went ahead and did it anyway.

Beyond that, I'll cover areas of success and failure in the business itself - the hollow victory of being anointed a "thought leader" despite having no clients, a marketing strategy that worked brilliantly (but also didn't work at all), the folly of trying to scale the unscaleable, and many more things besides.

Stay tuned for part two...
Hello Contrarian,
It's okay to make mistakes in life. That's how you become wise. The bigger the mistake, the bigger the lesson. But please share the rest of the story with us, so that we can all become wise.
 

CivilianCone41

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Apr 26, 2021
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The final chapter

I wasn't happy in the business, but what I did have was newfound clarity as to the direction of my life.

This road wasn't going to take me where I wanted to go. It would never give me the life I daydreamed about every single day. I'd been burying my head in the sand for far too long - I'd lost sight of my why.

The only reason to stay was out of loyalty, and that's not a valid reason to sacrifice your dreams. The pull of loyalty did have a strong hold on me, but I knew what had to be done. The longer I left it, the worse it would be for everyone.

Seemingly at just the right moment, one of my contacts in the industry - who I'd done a webinar with - sent me an email. He was absolutely amazed by how I'd come out of absolutely nowhere and pulled off the Summit. He wanted to talk about working with me. I didn't want another J.O.B., but hey - I had one more option than I did a moment ago. I had to listen to what he had to say.

In the meantime, I met with Steve. He was ditching the office and turning his other employees into remote workers (good choice!). So they needed new contracts. He wanted to give me a contract too - the one I hadn't had all this time, and never insisted on because I trusted him implicitly.

I don't think that trust was misplaced - but at the end of the day, I'd violated the Commandment of Control by getting into this business in the first place, and then violated the hell out of it by not having a contractually binding agreement. I'd still placed my future completely in Steve's hands.

He went through the contract with me. It was exactly the same contract he gave everyone else. He glossed over parts of it, almost embarrased, saying that all of this will be irrelevant when I become a shareholder anyway. But it included things like my working hours, a non-competition clause, and the standard employment contract thing of "no outside business interests" without written permission.

Hmm. Well, I'd already admitted to myself the error I'd made by getting involved in this in the first place, so it didn't make me angry. But it certainly crystallised my decision to leave.

He also said he'd have another contract laying out the terms for gaining equity...but he didn't have that prepared yet. I wondered if it would ever materialise.

Encouragingly, he also told me how happy he was that we were finally making progress. If things continued as they are, perhaps we can even accelerate me becoming a shareholder in only a matter of months. And suddenly I felt good about it all - but for a day, at most.

It still left me with this deal with the devil - the contract of employment, the signing away of my soul. And I wasn't sure I even wanted the shares anymore. That would just make my leaving incredibly messy and complicated.

I took the contract away with me - and within the span of a week, he'd chased me three times to sign and send it back. So we worked without a contract all this time, and suddenly it's a matter of grave urgency?

In one sense, the business wasn't a failure anymore. We'd turned a (small) profit. I had a pipeline. We were on track for a solid performance from now on.

But - would that ever get me where I wanted to go?

I wasn't enjoying the work, and that was unlikely to change.

I was tired of dealing with useless HR fools and soulless careerists. I hated when I spoke with candidates and wanted to send them to the Fastlane Forum rather than the temporary reprieve of a new job. These weren't my people. What I was doing was incongruent with my values.

I had no prospect of even increasing my earnings at any point in the near future.

100% effort would only ever net me - at most - 50% returns.

In the very best case scenario, we might sell the company at some undetermined future point and I might walk away with a £1-1.5m cheque.

Most likely, I'd end up like Steve - running on the treadmill fighting fires for the next 20 years and never seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.

I liked Steve - I still do. I hope he finds that light. But I didn't want to be where he is. We should have stayed as business acquaintances, or distant friends.

Inspired by a conversation with @Andy Black (thank you Andy!), I got my local lead gen site up and running. It took me a matter of days to get my first client. It's pocket change at the moment - but it was liberating to see with my own eyes that I could make money completely on my own. And even though it's currently pocket change, it's pocket change that keeps on working whether I work or not. A small taste of what a genuine Fastlane looks like.

I had a couple of Skype meetings with my contact. He wanted me to be their sales guy. I made it crystal clear that I wasn't interested in being an employee. I wanted the freedom to set my own schedule, work from wherever I wanted and run my own business(es) at the same time. And that my ultimate goal was to build my own successful company.

I asked him to show me an achievable plan that would allow me to earn $250,000 a year. He came back with exactly that.

He'd - almost by accident, over the years - built his one man blog into a seven figure business with an offering noone else in the market could compete with. He's still a bit in shock at his own success, I think. But it's a story I could get behind. A real tale of process over event. These were my kinda people. And for once I'd actually get to sell something that's not a grudge purchase.

I didn't send the contract back to Steve. I psyched myself up to give him the news. I was actually nervous about talking to him all weekend, and all morning on the Monday. I never get nervous about anything. I even went to Skype him, then made an excuse to do something else for five minutes before forcing myself to just press the damn button.

We were on the video call for less than three minutes. I could tell he was genuinely upset. He said he didn't want to talk about it now, but let's catch up on it tomorrow. I just felt completely numb afterwards. I just sat there glum-faced for what seemed like an eternity. I started doubting my decision. I called my girlfriend. It felt like breaking up with someone. I pondered that I would have rather been fired - at least I'd have a clear conscience.

But I knew I was doing the right thing. I was experiencing exactly what I'd been coaching candidates giving their resignation about for years - the guilt.

When we did speak again, Steve made sure to let me know how disappointed he was. He really poured on the guilt trip. But then he was very matter of fact - he wanted me to see the month out, at least, finish up what I was working on, help find a replacement and hand everything over.

And after that it was back to normal. It was like nothing had changed - I kept doing the work, we talked every day as usual, and Steve was back to his happy old self. Perhaps he realised deep down that I made the right choice.

In the end, it had a happy ending for me. My last day was yesterday - and Steve called me with a proposal. If I was up for it, he wanted to keep me on as a freelancer. He'll take over the reigns of the business, but he'll feed me any work that comes in and give me 50% of the fee for any placements I make, including the ones I already had in the pipeline as an employee. So I can expect to net an extra £10,000 in the next month or so just for finishing up my work - which will come in very useful indeed. I had to stop myself from volunteering to finish those placements for free - there's that damn guilt coming back again. Shut up and take the money FFS! Idiot!

It's no big deal for Steve to just keep it ticking over while he looks for someone else - it uses all his other company's existing infrastructure anyway.

Now I can help my customer base in two completely different ways. I have my freedom back. And I'm still on good terms with Steve.

I've learned so much, and I'm excited to march boldly into the next chapter - only this time, with complete clarity of purpose and mission.

So that's the story. Now it's time to focus on the lessons...
Amazing!! thank you for having written this. I didn't think I would read it this far. I did it in one sitting. I even popped corn when you decided to go on your own and came back to read the rest of it. Very compelling writing style. I hope you are living your dream today
 

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