Telling High Value Stories

By Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter
If you want to be seen as one of the pack, you can present yourself like everyone else. My guest, Stever Robbins and I talk about creating high-value stories that elevate you from your competition.

There Are Stories And Then There Are Stories!

Jeff Altman  00:04

So my guest today is Stever, not Steve, Stever Robbins. Companies hire Stever to ensure that their top performers anhigh-potentialal leaders are inspired, engaged and able to reach their full potential. After all, his thinking is you can’t manage your superstars the same way you manage everyone else. They have different capabilities, different motivations, and different needs. He has graduated from both, not just one, but both MIT and Harvard Business School, and has been with several startups and get this not one, not two, not three, but four, count them, four IPOs. Stever, welcome. Thanks for making time today.


Steverr Robbins  00:50

Thank you for having me, Jeff.  I feel pressure already to keep up with your level of energy. But I just don’t know if I can do it. You’re pretty spectacular.


Jeff Altman  01:00

Why thank you. I appreciate the acknowledgement. And folks, we’re going to be talking about selling high value stories because if you’re just going to present as one of the pack, that’s the way you’re going to be seen on the way in. And that’s the way you’re going to be seen your entire time. And that’s not the way anyone ever wants to be seen. So maybe we could just start off, Steverr, by answering the question, what is a high value story?


Steverr Robbins  01:29

All right, so, regardless of your philosophical leanings, if you think oh, everyone is created exactly the same. The reality is that people generally present themselves the same. And especially in the job search, job search. To some degree, this makes a ton of sense, because it’s a paradox. If you have a lot of experience job searching, that means that you have had to be in the job market many, many times. So if you have a lot of experience job searching, and you get really good at job searching, it probably means that you can’t hold down a job. On the other hand, if you really are somebody who can hold down a job, you’re not going to go through very many job searches, because you’re not going to need to. So you don’t necessarily get good at them. So there’s a whole paradox here. And creating a high-value story is creating a story that when an employer hears it, instead of just thinking, ‘Oh, yes, another candidate for this job, thank you. Tell us, tell us your biggest, tell us your biggest weakness and your biggest strength.’ Yawn. Instead, they interpret you and what you’ve done and the potential that you represent as like, ‘Oh, if we have Jeff working for us, that’s going to be fabulous for our business, that’s going to be fabulous for me as the HR person hiring him? And boy, is that going to be fabulous for Jeff’s manager? We want Jeff at this company. and a high value story is the story that you tell that makes people think that.


Jeff Altman  02:59

and, you know, I tend to think of when I when I hear that, I think in terms of Oooh!who those moments, creating those Ooooh! Those moments in an interview that so few people are able to do. So how does one construct a high-value story, the ones that create that wow moment in someone’s psyche?


Steverr Robbins  03:26

You know what, I’m gonna leave the job search for a minute, I’m going to use a metaphor that we’re probably all familiar with from daily life, which is have you ever gone to a McDonald’s and gotten yourself a Big Mac?


Jeff Altman  03:40

Not during this presidency? I haven’t, and probably not during the two or three previous ones. But I do have memories of doing that.


Steverr Robbins  03:50

Okay, you’ve had you’ve had a Big Mac before. Now, have you ever gone to a really high end restaurant and ordered some delicious meal, maybe even a really high end burger? Now at the moment when you were placing the order, you’ve and you’ve probably paid different amounts of money for those two things you play paid a different amount of money for the McDonald’s hamburger than you did for that high end meal. You actually made your purchase decision before you had any idea of whether or not the food was any good. When you went to the high-endestaurant, you were expecting to pay high end prices. You were expecting a certain level of preparation. And in fact, if you didn’t get it, you might have complained to the manager you might have said we’re never going back there again. But even if you said you were never going back there again, a lot of times you’ll go. You’ll eat and you’ll pay. You’ll actually go ahead and pay even if after the fact the meal wasn’t worth what you thought it was. And the same thing with McDonald’s. If McDonald’s said ‘you know $29 for a Big Mac,’ you would scoff and you would roll your eyes. But if you go out you pay for that Big Mac and you eat it and it is like the most delicious thing you’ve ever had. And your thinking, ‘oh my gosh! That Big Mac was worth $29,’ you don’t go back and give them 25 more dollars, because it was worth that much. The value of the economic transaction takes place based on the story that you have about the meal you’re about to have. And based on that, you’re willing to go to a particular place, even though you’re going to spend a lot of money, or you want to go to another place, because you’re not going to spend very much money, etc.


Jeff Altman  05:27

I’m just interrupt here for a sec. That suggests that the branding of the establishment creates the value proposition that makes someone want to spend 25 more dollars on getting that burger, because it has created the expectation that it has that value. Am I interpreting that correctly?


Steverr Robbins  05:58

You are interpreting that 100% correctly. And I don’t want to suggest that when you are hunting for a job, you’re basically just a hamburger wearing nicer clothes. But when you’re hunting for a job, you’re basically just a hamburger wearing nicer clothes. And you need to be able to tell a story of why you are the premium hamburger rather than the average hamburger. And there’s a lot of different ways that you can do that. One of which, for example and, you know, I’m sure we’ll get into several, one of which is literally just presentation. One of the secrets to life, a lot of people don’t realize, that I think a lot of us know, to some degree, but that we don’t really think very hard about, it is that human beings respond to context and to sort of superstitious beliefs, what is as strongly or maybe even more strongly than they respond to actual data and substance. So somebody comes in, actually . .  . I’ll tell a real story from my past. There was a gentleman who I was working with, and he was somebody who had been the youngest C suite, person at the time, at the time that he was, he was the youngest C suite person ever elected to the C suite of a Fortune 500 company. And we were giving a presentation together. And as we were walking offstage, he turned to me and he was furious. And he said, ‘I never ever want to be seen with you like this in public again.’ And I said, ‘seen like what? And he said, ‘That suit you’re wearing.’ And I was like, this was actually, this is like a decent, you know, quality suit. ‘I’ve never had a problem with it before.’ And he said ‘yes, except, if you wear a $2,000 suit, people will know that it’s a $2,000 suit. More accurately, most people won’t know.  Most people will just see you’re wearing a suit. But the people who know how to tell the difference will recognize it as a $2,000 suit. And they will not haggle on price. Because when they see that you’re wearing a $2,000 suit, they will immediately assume you’re a premium product. You are at the top of your game.’ And I’ll tell you something, I took that lesson. And I took that lesson home and I thought ‘Man, I hate wearing suits. We’re going to have to recraft the entire economy so that we no longer have to wear suits because if suits are going to be the currency of persuasion, I am going to lose because I hate wearing suits.’ So, we successfully did that by having tech take over the world. And then forcing COVID to have everyone get used to pajamas. But that was a 20-year plan. And that would you know, you don’t have the time to do that in your own job search. But basically, your clothes are one way of signaling high value. Now if you just show up wearing the same thing, okay, it’s important to know that you’re competing for a job. What that means is you can’t just measure your value in the abstract. You can’t just walk in and say ‘I am a high value candidate because you need to be high value relative to the other people who are applying. So if everyone is walking in wearing an off-the-rack suit that looks schlumpy and you walk in, wearing an off the rack, you know, you’re smarter than me and you go ‘oh, I know that I need . . .  part of projecting value is to wear a suit.’ But you walk in wearing a schlumpy suit that doesn’t look as good as the other people before and after you. You’re not distinguishing yourself by clothing. And we’ll talk about other ways we’re doing it. But by clothing, you’re not going to stand out. And you’re not going to be memorable. So if you’re interviewing in high tech, for example, the currency is not necessarily suits. The currency maybe, you know, maybe wearing the Steve Jobs black turtleneck or whatever the culture is of the company where you’re interviewing. But if you’re going into an investment banking interview, and you’re wearing a cheap suit, and the person before and after you are wearing really sharp, really expensive suits, because that’s one of the few professions where people still really spend a lot of money on presentation. You’re going to stand out, not in a good way. So first of all, you want to think about appearance and again It’s relative to the job that you’re going after. But if you’re interviewing for Burning Man headquarters, wearing a $2,000 suit and having a neatly trimmed hair, that’s not the currency that they’re looking for. Showing up in sandals, and a tie dye t-shirt, you know, holding your Raspberry Pi art projects, that is creating a blinking halo around your head, that’s probably a lot more likely to be commensurate with the culture. But if you’re showing up for an investment, banking, interview, or marketing, or whatever, you want to be wearing the kinds of clothes and if possible, if you can afford it. And if you have it, you want to be wearing just one notch, nicer, or more artistic, or whatever the currency is for the kind of thing that you’re applying for. And don’t always assume it’s just niceness

Data-Driven Assessments and Culture Fit

Jeff Altman  10:46

Seth Godin used the term, ‘People like us do things like that.’ And you want to be one of those people who represent the elite in an organization or an elite high-value. top performer, super successful, whatever term is appropriate for the type of position, you’re competing for presentation.


Steverr Robbins  11:18

Yep, absolutely. I don’t want to fixate our entire conversation about wardrobe. And for men, I’ll just remind you, that’s a great tie, also, not just simply the suit. And for women, I never worry about you. You always know what the right thing is, excuse me for being sexist about this. But I tend not to worry about the women I work with. What else should people be doing to create that high-value story about themselves, that makes the magnetic to others.


Steverr Robbins  11:50

So one of the things is you . . . Well, there were a few different things you said there. Because there’s creating the story, and there’s delivering it. And delivering it is an interpersonal thing, which is really important to be able to get down because you can be the best person in the world at something, and if you don’t have the people skills to to show someone how that’s the case, you’re just going to get passed over because people aren’t going to recognize that. But in the case of the high-value store, you need to know what value is. What is the value in the place that you’re going. So, and this depends upon the type of job that you have. And this depends on the type of organization that you’re applying to. Different organizations have different cultures and the different cultures value different things, there are places where the most important thing might be to be a team player. Because maybe you engage in large projects, these are projects that could be over a long period of time. Too big for any one person to be able to take credit or do everything. Actually, you know, an example I’ll use is theater. Theater, to me is one of the most team sports ever, because there is no one, no matter how good, that can make a production succeed. But almost anyone, either in the tech, or the actors, or the writer or the director, almost anyone can make one tank. So in order to make a successful theatrical production, everyone really has to work together. And the kinds of qualities that might be really prized there is the interpersonal pieces and the pieces of knowing how to do something that is, you know, very much integrating both technical aspects and individual performance, you know, etc, etc, etc. On the other hand, if you’re talking about a profession that like, I keep coming back to finance because that was my most recent job, but like, let’s say that you’re a fund manager for Fidelity and you are managing a mutual fund, generally there you have a team working for you. But you’re judged on individual performance. You’re judged on how well your particular thing does. They’re the thing that is high value to people is not going to be ‘Oh, are you nice and sweet? And can you work with people and persuade them to do what you want?’ It’s going to be if we give you $100 million fund, will you give us back $120 million dollars at the end of the year. So that the people who work who have subscribed to that fund are going to want it. So step one is you need to understand what is it that’s valued in the organization and or the industry that you’re working in? So I think we’re recording this right in the middle of Elon Musk’s first few weeks, as the owner of Twitter. And one of the things that Elon did I think his second day there is he wanted all of the programmers who had recently worked on the code base. He wanted them ranked by the number of lines of code they changed in the codebase. And he basically fired the ones who didn’t write very many lines of code. So that’s a really explicit statement that what he values his lines of code written. Now if you’re programmer or if you have worked in high tech and actually know anything about programming, you will realize that’s actually a really, really bad metric. And paradoxically, more lines of code is not necessarily good.


Jeff Altman  15:11

It can be spaghetti code.



Right, exactly. So, what that… but but but yet he was the boss, and he was the person who made the decision as to what criteria to use to fire people. So it’s important to get a sense for the culture and, you know, in the world we’re living in, you can get that sense for the culture. Go on LinkedIn. Search for a few people at the company that you’re interviewing with, and just look at the kinds of things they write about. Send them a message, say, ‘you know, hey, I’m applying for a job at your company. Could you tell me a little bit about the culture?’ They might say, no. They may be prohibited from doing that. But they might say, ‘sure, and just ask them what’s important. What are the things that I should work on before I do my interview, and strive to learn what some of those criteria are going to be? Once you know, then, is the issue of crafting your resume, crafting your verbal story to emphasize those high value things. And it’s, and stop me if I’m just going on and on and on. Because this is something that once you get me going, it’s kind of hard to get me to stop sometimes. But a lot of people when they write their resume, they think that the point of a resume is to list the things they’ve done. And to say, ‘look, here’s the experience I have. ‘That’s not actually the point of a resume.’ The people reading your resume don’t actually care what experience you have. What they care about is what you can do for them. What they care about is if they hire you, will you solve whatever problem it is that they currently have that’s requiring them to hire someone else? Now, that problem might be ‘Wow, we need someone who knows some very specific technology, and has a lot of experience in it. And the reason a lot of experience matters is we need someone who can hit the ground running. Now, what I just did there is I just went up to what their or went up or down to what their real underlying goals, what they were saying is we need someone who has X number of years of experience with this technology. So the question you want to ask yourself is ‘why would they need that? Why would they be looking for someone with X number of years of technology?’ And the answers really are? Well, so that person could maybe so they could debug code quickly, so that they could hit the ground running so that they could write code quickly? Those are the things that really matter to the hiring manager is how fast can you write code.


Jeff Altman  17:36

And sometimes it’s about minimizing risk of failure because if we hire, if we ask for someone with 15 years of writing code, and this can really be done with someone with seven or eight years of experience writing code, we have the expectation that the 15 year person, they’re not going to screw up quite as much or as frequently. And this is a fallacy, folks, we both know this. But there are things about minimizing risk. The eight year person ‘Ooh, we might have to supervise them. Watch what they do, because they might make mistakes. Oh, God! Mistakes! But the 15 year person? Yeah, they’re the safe hire. ‘No one ever got fired for buying IBM computers’ used to be the same from back in The Stone Age’s. And now we laugh at that, because who buys IBM nowadays?

Telling Stories, Not Tall Tales

Steverr Robbins  18:34

Now we say no one ever got fired for buying Microsoft, which you know, is, yeah . . .  Anyway, by the way, did I tell you that I had over 15 years of high tech experience before I shifted into business? Just saying. So, okay, so So you figured out what’s important to them.? And part of the way that you did that is you look at the job requirements, and you ask, for each requirement, ‘Why are they asking that? What benefit is that going to bring to the company?’ So they want somebody with 10 years of experience using this type of software? Why? Probably so that they can hit the ground running, so they’re not going to make mistakes. And so that they can debug code. Let’s just say that’s those are  the things you you believe. Now go through your resume and with those things in mind, and we call those criteria, those are the criteria, the criteria is debugging ability, hit the ground running, and not going to make mistakes, and go through your resume and pull out the pieces that can be used to exemplify those. So you’ll look on your resume and you say, ‘Oh, look, I wrote this 5000 line controller for a robot at my last job. Great. You wrote a 5000 line controller for robotic at your last job. How does that link up to those criteria? Does that show that you can hit the ground running? If you want to show then you can hit the ground running, take that very same bullet point, and said ‘with almost no experience gwrote a 5000 line controller for this robot in under three weeks. What that’s showing is, boom, fast learning curve.


Jeff Altman  20:13

And its flavor to the story. As opposed to flat facts, you’ve given context and flavor to it. So going back to the restaurant analogy, it’s the $29 Hamburger versus the $4.59 cent hamburger.


Steverr Robbins  20:31

Yes, and in fact, it’s not it’s even more than flavor. You’ve basically told th reader how to interpret that fact. Because if I just give you a fact, if I say, if I say the temperature is 75 degrees, today, you can read that and it’s like, so hot. But if I say to you, ‘we’re experiencing unusually warm weather. The temperature is 75 degrees today. Even though I haven’t given you any additional facts, I’ve told you how to interpret the 75. So if you wrote 5000 lines for your robot controller, one interpretation might be you can get up to speed quickly. But let’s say the point you’re trying to make is not the up-to-speed part, but the part about debugging. In that case, you say, ‘wrote and debugged 5000 line controller in under three weeks.’ And what that says was, Wow, you were able to get this up and running and debugged. So it’s very small changes in wording, but you’re making the changes in wording so that they produce the interpretation on the part of the reader. So you start by asking yourself, what do they really want? And you get that by asking why for all the criteria that they’re listing in the job description? Why do they want this? Why do they want this? Why do they want this? Once you know what those criteria are, now you go back into your resume and pull out the points that are going to support those criteria. And you just make it a little bit clearer, you make sure that each point includes just enough context, that it guides the interpretation of the reader. So by the time they’re reading the facts, you’ve already told them, here’s how to interpret it. Just today I was I was helping someone with a resume. And this person is a young person who has constructed rocket engines as an undergrad. This is like something that usually you know, you’d do in industry or in grad school, but they went ahead and did it as an undergrad. They constructed rocket engines. I’m kinda like, ‘wow, I made rocket engines. When I was a teenager, we had these little things that were like this big, and we stuck them inside a cardboard rocket and we lit the fuse. In his case, it was an actual thruster. But in any event, now, just listing that on his resume is impressive if you know how hard it is. But like maybe you’re thinking about those little rockets, and the that you put the, that you put the fireworks inside of. So I asked him, What is the reason that rocket thrusters are impressive? What function is that serving on your resume? And he was like, ‘Well, I want to show people that I can handle I can learn something, I can apply it. And I can apply it where I actually build the thing, raised the money, find the resources, and then end up with a working rocket thruster. And I was like, okay. So what you want to do is you want to make it clear to people that you are a team leader, that you are a fundraiser, that you are someone who can learn quickly, and that you are someone who can apply what you learn. And none of that came out from just that sentence. So the instructions I have given us that go back and go back and make sure that that comes out on your resume. And when you’re talking about it, don’t just say I built these thrusters. Say, look, ‘I led the team, because what they’re really listening for is team leadership ability, especially out of a techie. ‘I led the team to take the knowledge that we had, and apply it. So we actually built the thing, and even raised the money to bring it all the way to working status.’ In one sentence there, instead of just saying we built these rocket thrusters, you’re telling them how to interpret this as ‘I have leadership skills, interpret this as I can apply the material that I know, interpret this as I can learn the material in the first place, and interpret this as I can raise money. And all of those can be put in very subtly in the way that you write your resume. But in the way that when someone reads it, they’re gonna go ‘oh, here’s a person who raised the money and led the team,’ versus this other person who just built two rocket controllers, two rocket thrusters.


Jeff Altman  24:40

Which although impressive is even more impressive when given the context to it. Exactly. What else goes into a high-value story, Stever? Because we’ve spoken about a number of different things and you want to build a $29 hamburger or dare I say it’s Kobe, and thus it’s a $500 hamburger. What else talking about the $1,000 Hamburger? What else goes into this burger?

Recession-Proof Your Career With Your Current Firm

Steverr Robbins  25:07

Wow, I’m really starting to want this burger! I want to try a bite of this burger at this point. So I mentioned earlier that you need to be able to deliver your story and deliver it in a compelling way. And this is not right. This is not fair. This is the way the world works. And the way the world works is that people do not process competence by just evaluating what they see or read in you. They also evaluate it by looking at your degree of confidence. So if you’re telling a high-value story, and you walk in, and so we’ll so I wrote this $5,000, this file, sorry, this 5000 lines, lines of codecand, and it showed that I could debug stuff, if that’s what you want, right? That’s not going to come across as a high-value story, even though it really is potentially an impressive story. But if I come in as, ‘you know what? I wrote 5000 lines of code, and not a single bug was discovered after my initial debugging pass. That only took me three weeks. I’d love to bring that to your company.’ Now, I’ve established the cognitive value, the analytic about the value, the value that they that they’re going to think about by telling them I did 5000 lines of code in three weeks, and it didn’t need to be debugged. And the way that I added the emotion, the confidence, and the straightforwardness to it, that’s the part that makes it come across. In fact, if you I don’t know, if people listening to this or techies or not, it’s probably obvious, that’s my background. But if anyone out there who is an electrical engineer, emotions are the carrier waves. And the story that you tell verbally is the actual message. For everyone else, what that means is, is you need to be thinking, not just about, can I tell a high-value story where I take the things that I’ve done and give them a context so that people interpret them as having a lot of economic value, it’s having something that’s going to make the business money? That’s the thinking story. You also need the feeling story. And feelings are not communicated with words. And it’s really important that you know that, because if you say to somebody, ‘you know, I don’t want you to get upset, but  . . . wow, that’s really going to work. Or if you say, ‘you know, I want you to feel really confident about that plank.  I’m pretty sure that plank is solid, so when you walk across it just, you know, you can just close your eyes and walk right across it. You know, the emotional message that’s being conveyed is not a message of ‘you can trust what I’m saying.’ However, if I say to you ‘look, you know, I’m sure the plank is solid. We’ve had it constructed to all of the standards and up to the code that we made up five minutes ago. And you know, that code is going to be every bit as good as the actual housing code, National Construction Code. And if it isn’t, we’re going to cover the full cost of your funeral and having your body shipped back to your loved ones. So grab the board and just walk right across.’ What I am projecting is this is perfectly reasonable. We do this every day. You know,  there’s nothing to worry about, even though I’m talking about funding your funeral. And that part is the emotional part. Now, if you actually are nervous, we don’t really have time  to go through any techniques or things. But you know, this is where doing things like practice interviews come into play. This is where doing things like like delivering a message that you find difficult to deliver, but over and over in a mirror until you’re comfortable doing it, this is one of the things for people who are listening who are consultants, I don’t know if any would tune into your podcast. But consultants essentially are in a never-ending job search. Every time they’re looking for a new client. It’s like doing a job search if you’re unemployed. So consultants in fact, the ones who know what they’re doing, actually do get good at the job search process. And with a consultant, one of the most common ways they screw up is when they’re quoting their fees. Because to really make a living as a consultant, you have to charge pretty high fees. Because you don’t work very many days.  Most of your time is spent drumming up the business, not actually delivering your product or service. So people say, ‘Oh, wow, this consultant makes $5,000 a day.’ Well, yeah, but it takes them three days of work to get that one day of business. So now they’re down to $1,200 a day. And they only end up getting business once or twice a month. So when you do the math, it’s not actually a great-paying job. So in order to make it a great paying job you have to be able to say ‘You know, I charge $5,000 a day and I’m worth it. Here’s why I’m worth it. And the most common thing that I hear from consultants who are taught, who are attending courses in sales is that is that they just can’t ask for that much money with a straight face. They’re nervous. They can’t, you know, they can’t say it without nonverbally revealing that they consider that to be an unreasonable ask. And for this, all I have to say is thank you Elon Musk, and the Twitter takeover. Thank you, Jeff Bezos. A new story just came out that he has all of the people who work in his home. .  . like his maids and things. He has them climb out the windows to hide when he’s coming by because doesn’t want to see that they’re there. And they’re not allowed to go to the bathroom, in the same bathrooms. Like, it’s just ridiculous. I don’t know what this guy’s fetish is with not letting people go to the bathroom. But it’s a big theme in his life. And the reason that I say thank you to these people, is because more than anyone else, what they’ve demonstrated to me is, ‘fuck it.’ Like, oh, excuse me, I don’t know if I can say that on this podcast. But they’ve demonstrated to me is . . . it.    Because they don’t pause for a minute and say, ‘am I worth $100 billion? Do I have the skills to do this? They just assume that they do. And they blunder right on in and do whatever they do. And if it screws up, well, it screws up. It doesn’t seem to shake their faith in their confidence in themselves at all. And so I would advise you, I would advise all consultants, I would advise everyone, drop the idea that the number means anything. Some people say, ‘oh, you should price based on value.’ Screw that! Just price based on what you want to get paid. And the only time that you need to think about the value piece is when you’re looking at market rates. Because if you’re applying for a job where you’re competing against lots of other people, and the other people are coming in at $75,000 a year and you walk in and say I want $970,000 a year, you’re going to be laughed out of the room. 

Being Smart with Stories on Your Interviews

Jeff Altman  32:07

But you’re in the wrong territory for what you want. But we’ve spoken about a number of things related to high-value stories. And part of this involves context or even context for the work that you do. Or this is creating a brand or reputation to justify the value you’re going to be charging, which can exist way before you’re even considering looking for a job and should be done way before. You want to be seen as the person who is the expert, the world class individual in this area. If you can get to there and presenting yourself physically, as one would expect someone like that in this arena to present themselves or better. Ideally better. And by the way, for those of you who are not familiar with the term shlump, I just want to translate it just in case it’s a term you’re not familiar with. I’ll just politely describe it as being ordinary, mediocre, sloppy, that sort of thing. Now, back to the show itself. We’re looking at ways to create high-value stories around you, so that you are the one they want to choose. And you’re seen as that top 1% individual or better yet 1/10 of 1% individual instead of being one of the 99%.  Even in the stories that that arere told about wealth in the United States, it’s always the top 1% These are the elite. Don’t you want to be there? Are you just happy being in the 99%? And this isn’t about money. It’s about opportunities, too? So, what haven’t we covered yet, Steve, that we really should?


Steverr Robbins  34:04

Well, first of all, you know, I mean, I’m gonna just do a little thing here where I pop up Whoa, that wasn’t what I wanted to do. That’s really funny. That’s okay, hi. I can’t do the demonstrations I wanted to do well. That sucks.


Jeff Altman  34:22

But it is what it is.


Steverr Robbins  34:24

It is what it is. What I was going to do is I have a  webcam which when it’s working it shows you it shows you a beautiful background of a very high-status office now it’s clearly a virtual background. Anyone who knows how to look look look for these things will be able to tell but it still triggers the emotional reaction in people of ‘wow he’s calling in from his skyscraper in downtown Manhattan. As it is I’m gonna blur gonna blur so you can’t tell I’m calling him from my bedroom. So there’s actual technology that you can use to help affect the impression you’re giving. But also, as you were mentioning, you want to get your name out there. And the phrase personal branding, I think, has gotten kind of trite. We used to call it reputation once upon a time, but it’s really become important. It’s funny, because I have heard a lot of people say things like, ‘oh, it shouldn’t matter. It shouldn’t matter if I’m posting on LinkedIn. It shouldn’t matter if I have a blog. You know what, I actually agree, it shouldn’t matter. But it does. But it does. Because if somebody Google’s you, and then you know, at the end, because that’s a lot of people do that now, if they’re going to be called in for an interview. So if I were interviewing someone, I would Google them to find out something about them. I would look at their LinkedIn profile, not because I should, but because I want information about them. Actually, if I can, if I can, I’ll tell a story in just a second fun story, a horrifying story, for those of you who, for those of you who are interviewing for jobs, but a fun story, for those of you who are interviewing other people for jobs, but basically, you know, write a few articles, get some posts, and, and do this really strategically, like decide what it is that you want to become known for. If you’re a programmer, which is  a lot of the examples I’ve been drawing from, write some articles on programming. Now, you know, a lot of programmers, you have to have your GitHub repository, and you have to have code samples, you have to pass your coding challenges and all that stuff. But to make it a bit, everyone has to do that. So to make yourself stand out, write a couple of articles about how should you choose the optimal programming language for a task, because I’ll tell you something. Other people aren’t writing these articles. And in your application, it will. So number one, first of all, you know, when you’re applying for a job. Say, by the way, you should check out my blog, where I’ve written about my philosophy of coding, things like that are going to distinguish you like ‘oh, he’s not just a coder. He thinks about coding. He actually has a philosophy about coding. Let me go read about that. Now, interestingly, that will disqualify you from some jobs, because maybe your philosophy goes counter to the way that company does business. But that’s fine because the ones for whom your company for whom your coding philosophy is in line, they’re going to be really interested in you.


Jeff Altman  37:15

Right ones that aren’t, you shouldn’t be working there, because they’re going to dull your senses, and turn you mediocre.


Steverr Robbins  37:23

Yes, very, very much. I mean, my one of my emphasis personally, back when I was in high tech, which was a long time ago, but when I was a programmer, I emphasized maintainable code. So if you were building a code base, you want it to last for years that you wanted it to be easy for people to debug, easy for it to be extended, I Was Your Man, if you wanted a code base, that was lightning fast, I was not your man. And in fact, the way that I worked best is you pair me with somebody who optimizes my code afterwards. So I write this uber maintainable code. And then they come along, and they make it fast. And, you know, at this point, I recently found out that a code base that I wrote, As an undergrad is still in use 30 years later, it is still up and running. And I’m kind of like, Yay, I succeeded at that. Now, when I was at the company, that this was the company owned by the guy who taught me to program, they valued maintainability. So they let me do that. That was the approach that I took, I later went to work for a company that did not value maintainability, what they valued was speed to market. And they were quite explicitly willing to cut quality. And to make it so that the codebase would be horribly difficult to maintain five years from now, as long as they could get to the Comdex, which was this big trade show, I don’t know if it even still exists anymore. You know, by September. So if blogs had existed back then which they did, but if blogs had existed, I would have written blog posts about maintainability. And the second company would not have hired me, and both of us would have been happier. Because I wouldn’t have been spending all my time trying to push a maintainability agenda. While they were saying, We don’t care about maintainability just hack something together, so that we can ship it out, and you know, meet our numbers by complex.


Jeff Altman  39:07

So if I’m interpreting this correctly, you’re speaking to and then we’re gonna have to wrap up, but you’re speaking to the notion that, again, understand what the value is that you offer an organization and does it match up with their value systems? If it doesn’t, it’s the wrong place for you. You will die there emotionally. Your heart won’t be in the work. It will eat you up from the inside. And that’s not what you want to ever be doing. You want to go to environments that support you and nurture you and have the same values as you maybe even challenged you dare I say and without foster that, that world-class behavior


Steverr Robbins  40:00

And get it out there. Make sure there’s visibility into it. Because without the visibility, it doesn’t matter if you’re behaving that way. No one will know that you’re behaving that way. o


Jeff Altman  40:08

And some of you have seen my shows before. You know, one of the things I talk about is who knows about you? If no one knows about you, you’re invisible. Being invisible doesn’t help you at all. Steverr, this has been great. HOw can people think that more about you, the work you do, everything, please?.


Steverr Robbins  40:29

Sure. Well, I mean, obviously, I do work with high performers. Because it is very often the case that if you have one or two high performers and you unleash them to do the thing that they’re best at doing, right, they can be as valuable as half of the rest of your staff put together. So think about how much money you make and figure the top 20% of that is your high performers. Those are the people that I optimize and I kind of work with you and work with them to help them help you get the very best out of them. You can find me at or on LinkedIn


Jeff Altman  41:04

Do you remember your address on LinkedIn?


Steverr Robbins  41:06

We yes it’s  I got Stever back when LinkedIn first started, let me just double check that because


Jeff Altman  41:18



Steverr Robbins  41:27

Yeah, I don’t have my last name. You don’t it’s just /Steverr Yes. Stever haha.


Jeff Altman  41:36

Steverr, thank you. Folks, we’ll be back soon with more. I’m Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter. Hope you enjoyed today’s show. If you’re watching on YouTube or elsewhere, where you can give something a thumbs up, please do so. It does help other people with discovering the show. Also, I mentioned to you, visit my website, There’s a ton in the blog that can help you. Plus, if you need to schedule time for a paid coaching session with me, find out about my courses, books and guides, you can all do that at Also follow me or connect with me on Linkedin at And Stever wanted to say one more thing, right?


Steverr Robbins  42:21

I wanted to say one more thing, which is whoever’s listening, I want you to think about how much money you’re making at your current job. I want you to increase that by 20%. And that’s what Jeff can get for you because you deserve better. So make sure to connect with them.


Jeff Altman  42:35

Thank you. And I really didn’t ask him to do that. 


Steverr Robbins  42:38

No, he didn’t. But that’s a high-value story. That is a higher value story than, you know, I help you get jobs. I help you with your career. Right like man, we’re gonna boost your income by 20%.


Jeff Altman  42:51

And people hire me for no BS career advice. Folks, have a terrific day, and most importantly, be great. Take care!


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Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter
Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter

Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter is a coach who worked as a recruiter for what seems like one hundred years. He is hired to provide No BS Career Advice globally. That can involve job search, hiring staff, management, leadership, career transition and advice about resolving workplace issues. Schedule a discovery call at my website,

He is the host of “No BS Job Search Advice Radio,” the #1 podcast in iTunes for job search with over 2500 episodes.

I do a livestream on LinkedIn, and YouTube (on the account) Tuesdays and Fridays at 1 PM Eastern. You can send your questions about job search, hiring better, management, leadership or to get advice about a workplace issue to me via messaging on LinkedIn or in chat during the approximately 30-minute show.




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