Find out why Jason hired people who were the right fit for the job rather than those who were qualified, how does building a role around your new hire can benefit your company, and why you would never find a job that would be 100% enjoyable. Tune in to this brand new episode of the Leadership Stack Podcast!
[00:00:00] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): So, then what I eventually realised was there was no point in trying to find people who could do specific jobs. I needed to find people and then fit the jobs to them. So, what I ended up doing is doing interviews for jobs that I advertised and then taking just the people that I thought, yeah, this is going to work out, we are going to get on. And then tell them, what do you like doing? What don’t you like doing?
[00:00:26] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): When it comes to saying I have 2 hours and I need to perform for 2 hours, I need to look happy for 2 hours, I need to perform, do a show for 4 or 500 people who’ve come to see us, however tired I am, however much I don’t want to do it, however much I’ve argued with the people in the band, I can do it and it looks good. And that’s the point from my perspective is you can always push through if you’ve got the willpower to do so.
The Journey of Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy) on Building His Company in Mauritius With His Online Cartoon
[00:00:50] Sean Si: Let’s fast forward a little bit to the next company that you built. Why do you say that it was a very interesting time for you? You mentioned that you have 14 people you’re working with. You like them, they like you. What are some of the lessons that you learned from there?
[00:01:07] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): The first company, I wasn’t the boss. I was one member of the band who happened to have created the record company, because I was the only person who had any kind of experience in money and business through the economics degree, although I didn’t actually have any real experience.
[00:01:20] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): And then I got to Mauritius, and we created basically a blue dog and a yellow koala cartoon online. And we ended up with 5 million visits a month and 100 million page views a month on a site for kids up to 10 years old. And obviously, I couldn’t run that on my own. Initially, I did the first 3 years just myself. And when we got to Mauritius, I thought, right okay, I need to get a team together, so that they can help me, especially with the client support, with the technical side, with the animations, which we weren’t very good or I wasn’t very good at.
In Mauritius, Jason Barnard Had a Hard Time Finding Qualified People for the Specific Jobs He Needed for His Company
[00:01:49] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): And it turned up in Mauritius, and it didn’t occur to me that when you move from France, where there are 56 million people, incredibly well educated country, to Mauritius where there are a million people. And it’s part of Africa, and it has obviously not got the skillset that I had come to expect in France. I didn’t really think, oh, if I turn up and say, I need a PHP and MySQL developer, there actually won’t be anybody qualified to do the job. And it was literally, that was my problem.
[00:02:19] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): And so, what I did is I advertised for these jobs. And it would be PHP, MySQL developer, cartoon animation, somebody else to do some cartoon animation. And I would get applications from people who had absolutely no idea what they were doing. And somebody came in and said, oh, I do a bit of Excel. And you say, well, Excel isn’t a high level, server level, database management. It’s Excel, which is a spreadsheet, and it has nothing to do with it.
[00:02:45] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): So, then what I eventually realised was there was no point in trying to find people who could do specific jobs. I needed to find people and then fit the jobs to them. So, what I ended up doing is doing interviews for jobs that I advertised and then taking just the people that I thought, yeah, this is going to work out, we’re going to get on. And then tell them, what do you like doing? What don’t you like doing? How can we build this job around you so that both you are enjoying the job, you’re bringing value to the company, you’re moving the company forwards?
Jason Barnard on Hiring a Person Who Is Good at Spreadsheets, Believing in Him, and Giving Him the Leeway to Do His Job
[00:03:14] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): And that was an incredibly big wake up for me that helped me. It helped me out today because I’m doing the same thing again. But I got one guy who came in and he was supposed to be doing marketing, and it turned out that he wasn’t very good at marketing. He wasn’t very interested in marketing, but he was really good at spreadsheets. And he was really good at calculating weight ratios for words and pages for search engines. And I said, why don’t you just do that then?
[00:03:38] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): And he locked himself in his office for a month and came up with a spreadsheet that could calculate the exact ratio of words you needed in a page to rank number one on Google. This was back in 2002. We ranked number one on Google. Some of the pages still rank number one on Google, which is an astonishing achievement. And that was just a case of standing back and saying, actually, what are you good at mate? And he said, well, I like that and I’m good at that. And believing in his ability to do it and giving him the leeway to actually get on and do it. That was a big eye-opener.
The Process of Jason Barnard on Trying to Find a Good Animator for His Cartoon Characters
[00:04:06] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): Another one was the animation. My wife did the illustrations. I built the games and the website, but one thing I didn’t do very well was the animations of the characters. They were cartoon characters. So, I advertised. And obviously, there isn’t an animation school in Mauritius. So, the people who applied were people who just liked to draw. So, it’s people who were just fans of drawing. They would draw at home these cartoon characters. So, they all came in with these drawings that were done on bits of paper.
[00:04:33] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): And that was brilliant because I asked my wife, who should I employ? I’ve got no idea. And I showed her the portfolio and she said, well, that isn’t what we need to know. We need to know if they can draw our characters, not their own. And so, she said, just get everybody to draw this character, Kwala, the yellow koala in the cartoon series, and then bring them back to me.
Finally Hiring an Illustrator and Animator Who Got Soul in His Drawings and Represents the Cartoon Characters Well
[00:04:54] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): She didn’t want to do the interviews, not from the person but from the drawing. And then we need to make a decision about who do we get on with and which is the best drawing. And I got this big pile of drawings. I went back to her and I said, okay, here you go, I would pick that one. And she said, no, we want this one. And I was going, but it’s not very good. And she said, yeah, but it’s got soul.
[00:05:11] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): This person feels what it is this character represents. The drawing in itself technically isn’t brilliant, but he’s going to get it. And I employed him, and he still was working with me 9 years later. And he turned out to be the number one best top animator and illustrator and a lovely, lovely chap.
[00:05:28] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): And that’s a really interesting point as well, which brings it on to another point. As a boss, I think there’s a danger if you get on too well with people. That there is a loss of that kind of distance that you need in order to be able to tell people what they need to do. As a boss, I don’t like being a bully or a bossy kind of person, but at some point, you have to be to some extent.
An Amazing Moment for Jason Barnard, Where His Employee Sees Him as the Blue Dog But Still Respects Him and Works With Him
[00:05:53] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): And he was particularly interesting because I was actually the blue dog in the cartoon. So, I had to play this role of saying, actually, I’m this funny blue dog who entertains kids and who sings songs, but I’m also your boss. And that’s a really difficult balance to get.
[00:06:08] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): And one day, I walked across to the guy’s desk, and he’d done the animation, the best animation I’ve seen in the entire series, really, really lots of soul. And the blue dog is bouncing across the screen, looking incredibly happy. And I went, that is an amazing animation. How on earth did you manage to do that? And he said, I just watch you all day.
[00:06:26] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): And that was an amazing moment for me, which is that he could see me as a blue dog, illustrate me as a blue dog, animate me as a blue dog, but still respect me and still work with me. And I found that to be somebody I appreciate greatly as a human being, somebody I enjoyed working with, somebody I loved working with, somebody I have enormous respect for his work.
Jason Barnard on Extending the Company to Friends of His Employees and Finally Finding the 14 People to Complete His Team
[00:06:47] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): And we never lost that relationship where I was still the boss, but it was an enjoyable experience. And I don’t remember ever having to boss him around after the first couple of years. It became really an exchange with him. And in fact, there were two animators. He had a friend, he brought a friend in.
[00:07:03] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): And that was the other thing is I would say to people, if you’ve got friends who want a job, who you think would be good for the company, bring them in. And that was a great way to extend the team. And we ended with us, I said 14 people. And it was a pretty effective and efficient team.
How Did the Company of Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy) in Mauritius Come to an End?
[00:07:16] Sean Si: You mentioned that there are businesses after that that you were able to found, but you also mentioned in the pre-show that these companies, these businesses are still running, all of them. So, I wonder what happened to this one.
[00:07:31] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): This one, I took a business partner on board. And unfortunately, I was very naive and I was a blue dog, and I think I forgot that I needed to be a businessman in order to maintain and keep the company. And he used Mauritian law to basically take the company away from me. So, he still has the company. He’s still running it. I’m fairly bitter but that’s life. That’s the way things go. I don’t think he’s doing a good job of running the company, but now it’s none of my business because it’s not my company anymore, but it’s still going. And the cartoon characters still exist, and the site is still up and running.
[00:08:03] Sean Si: That’s tough. That’s a tough story.
[00:08:06] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): In fact, the worst thing about it was not the company. It was the blue dog. From my perspective, losing the company, who cares? I’ll create another company. I know I can do it. Losing the blue dog, the blue dog is part of my soul, part of my being. And so, when that was taken away with the company, that actually broke me for a while. And I had to rebuild a new company and had to rebuild on the basis of something that was very, very sad and very difficult for me.
Ending Up With 6 People on the Team, Who Are Efficient and Effective About Their Jobs, and Advising Them to Enjoy at Least 50% of Their Jobs
[00:08:32] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): The other thing is we ended up with actually a much smaller team, 6 people. And we ended up with 6 people doing the work of 14 because we had managed to really nail what everybody needed to do. And I think that’s really important is saying, if we can get processes in place where people are incredibly efficient and effective about their jobs, we’re going to be much better off.
[00:08:54] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): And that doesn’t mean that their jobs are boring. What I would say to the people in the team is at least 50% of your work needs to be interesting for you. 50%, 40%, 30% is going to be boring. That’s always going to be the case. It’s the case for me, and I’m the boss. But if it ever drops below 50% enjoyment for you, you tell me and we’ll rework your job. And we’ll try to figure out how to automate some of the stuff that you hate and push through some of the stuff you like, and we’ll try and get that balance back again.
[00:09:21] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): And I think when people say I’m enjoying half of this job, the other half is not so much fun, the other half, they will do efficiently, effectively, and very well because you have that other half that you enjoy. And if you say to somebody, 80% of your job is going to be boring, that 20%, in my opinion, is simply not enough to motivate them to do the other 80% well.
[00:09:40] Sean Si: This is actually pretty good. I never thought of it that way. A lot of people want their work to be a hundred percent enjoyable, which is a myth. It just doesn’t exist. Because as you mentioned, you’re the boss and you also don’t get that a hundred percent.
[00:09:52] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): Well, I found that that line actually works really well. Because when I say to people, when they start the company, it won’t be a hundred percent enjoyable. It never will be. Your entire life, it won’t be. Because I’m the boss and even for me, it’s not. I have to do some things that I don’t enjoy, but that’s part of life, that’s part of work. But if you can get to the stage where 50% is enjoyable, I think that’s a good balance. If you can get it to 70%, all the better for you, but there’s no point in aiming for 100% because you’ll never get that.
[00:10:20] Sean Si: Yeah. That’s true. And I could vouch for that. To all of you listening, it’s never going to be a hundred percent.
[00:10:25] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): Yeah.
[00:10:26] Sean Si: Okay. And since you’re here, can you do me a favour? Can you hit on the subscribe button and hit the bell button and select all notifications? So that whenever we have a new video, you’re going to be the first one to know. Until then, keep leading.
[00:10:39] Sean Si: Don’t try to keep up with other people because you’re never going to be happy. And you have to be at peace with yourself, meaning okay ka sa sarili mo. You know who you are, you’re aware of your character, you’re aware of your identity, and you’re at peace with that. You’re not going to need more stuff.
Video by: Leadership Stack. Guest: Jason Barnard. Host: Sean Si. October 7, 2021.