The Matt Sodnicar Podcast

No ay de otra : There is no other. Facing fear, push/pull factors. Askholes.

Show Notes

I connect with Michael Cox from Zagworx and In my book, he is one of the best humans, serving others as a recruiter - doing business the right way. 

We cover failures, self-doubt and fear - defining fearless along the way, and the book Beyond Band of Brothers.

He takes me through leaving the security of working for Xerox, starting his own recruiting firm during the pandemic, then 8 months of no business, and how helping others - truly with honesty - pays off. 

Then, his wife is diagnosed with cancer.

He teaches me about askholes, push/pull factors, exposure therapy, no ay de otra (there is no other) and the mantra that "things that don't define you, shouldn't shake you."

The episode concludes with a new track from Claire Beeler: Mothman.  
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What is The Matt Sodnicar Podcast?

The Matt Sodnicar Podcast. Founded on the belief that one need not be famous to tell a compelling story. Focused on turning points in business and in life, those moments that will inspire others.

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Matt Sodnicar 0:00
Hey everybody, this is Matt, Stay tuned after the episode, we've got a special musical guest for you today, local artist Claire Beeler. She's an incredible talent. And if you fast forward to the about one hour, five minute mark, you'll hear her song moth man, she wrote, produced performed all the instruments on it. It's very cool track and thankful that I get to broadcast this out to you. So enjoy that and enjoy this episode with Michael Cox.

Hey, everybody, welcome to the podcast. This is Matt Sodnicar. Thank you so much for your texts, your emails on the Facebook posts, when episodes go out, it really means a lot that you're listening. And with me today is somebody that we connected on LinkedIn in a professional capacity.

But I was a guest on his podcast and I'm returning the favor and turning the microphone tables figuratively. And with that, I'd like to say hello and introduce Michael Cox. He's a sales recruiter with zag works. But we had a very interesting conversation even off the air the first time about, oh, let's see failures, self doubt fear. All that fun stuff. So Michael, so good to see you again, buddy.

Michael Cox 2:00
Yeah, man, thanks for having me i and glad to continue the conversation or start a completely new one.

The failure I call it the FUD fear, uncertainty. And doubt is something that I've become intimately familiar with over the years. And,

you know, I've experienced a lot of those things. Throughout my career and life in general.

Matt Sodnicar 2:30
That's probably a good place to start. Because I was taking a road trip last week, and I listened to this book called The nerve, the science of fear. And I wanted to get back to the origin point of why this book was on my radar and why it's one of my favorites. And it's because that times in my life when I call these the 2am moments where I'm awake, and I'm looking at the ceiling and there's on the continuum from anxiety to fear I it's not a self help book, it's more about the science and the how the brain and the amygdala and all that kind of mess us up. Yeah, but with fear is that intro what, what has been scaring you? What is scared you the past couple years?

Michael Cox 3:25
Wow. Yeah. Fear is, is you know, the the ever present little whisper in your ear that says, Don't do that. And sometimes it's a good thing, you know, don't touch the hot stove, you only certain lessons, you only need to learn once. Others you learn over and over and over again and start to realize that fear that that is a lie, you know, and you'd have to become accustomed to it and realize that it might be something that you just need to ignore completely. Because it's there. It doesn't go away. And but it can't, it shouldn't stop you. So to give it some context, fear is ever present in conversations that I have on a hourly basis. Whether it be I have to tell this individual that he or she was not selected for the opportunity, even though I know they're fully qualified and and would have been a great hire. I'm a Sales recruiter. So I'm always doing having conversations about careers. And that person would have done well in that role. But they weren't selected. So now I have to explain to this individual Why not? And sometimes there isn't really good reason. But I still still have to have that conversation. So there's fear in that. And there's fear in having a conversation with a client that has, you know, paid good money, and has very high expectations. And I have to tell that individual that I haven't found anybody just yet. And so the hard conversations usually have lots of fear in them. And I'm having those hard conversations on a daily basis, had about three of them this morning so far. So it's, it's a constant. There's also fear in not having proper health insurance for myself, my wife in our three kids. And there is fear in if I don't do something this month, two or three months from now, is going to be, you know, pretty rough. That was the fear that I experienced. When I first launched my own business, I left the corporate world behind. And so that that's a constant fear. And that fear is specifically was end of 2019, and all of 2020, which was nuts. Now, it's, it's like a lingering fear that if if I have several months that are terrible, from a sales aspect or closing new business, then I might not be able to stack more months in the bank, if that makes sense. So me and fears a constant. Always.

Matt Sodnicar 7:00
So my first question on that, and I had to make some notes, because there were several questions. So yeah, sorry. We'll start with that. No, that's awesome. The the easiest one is that when you're making those phone calls, do you still have a biophysical reaction to that? When you're calling the client or calling the candidate? Do you notice a change in your body is dissolved? Absolutely.

Michael Cox 7:32
Yeah, and it's, it's, it is, it can be very intense. And to equate it to like, something that I have a phobia of, and that is needles. And I started this new workout and I was having, you know, good success, but I've made it pushed too hard. And my knee kept swelling up on me, and it wouldn't go down. So I had to go get a shot of cortisone in my knee. And that, that I know the doctor very well, we're good friends. And afterwards, he shook my hand, he says, Man, you got clammy, I said, Dude, I am sweating. I am sweating. Because of that knee is gigantic. And it felt like a, like you were doing it with a, a straw thing was huge. So I have the same reactions, when I have to go in to meet with a CEO or president and share with them, you know that this thing is not working properly. And this is why I believe it's not working. And those things that are on my list. I'm thinking of one example. In particular, the problems were all with his organization, and people don't like to hear about how they're doing things wrong. And yet I have to tell them, so I have a physical reaction to these conversations. That is nervousness, tightness in the chest and clammy hands and maybe sweating a little bit. And I have found that the moment that I start feeling that if I if I kind of may be having a monologue will will explain why I'm having fear and to myself, and will then realize it's kind of it's a weird thing. It's almost like, as soon as you start explaining it to somebody else, you realize it's kind of silly, doesn't get rid of it. But at that moment, I have a little bit more strength to say, You know what, I'm just going to go after I'm going to go so if it's a phone call that I have to have, I will just start dialing. Forget about everything else. Just go through the physical motion that almost makes you feel ill Just go and then take a deep breath, and you might get over it or not. But I find that maybe even sharing, hey, I was a little nervous to have this conversation with you. And that honestly, that honesty will often garner a bit of grace. And and and then it feels a little bit more comfortable. But it never goes away. I haven't figured out how to get rid of the fear. If you have let me know.

Matt Sodnicar 10:38
I will answer that I want to come back to the whole reason why I'm having this conversation with you is you mentioned the honesty. And you it was kind of a cold LinkedIn outreach to me about some position that you had open and into the conversation or the discovery call where we're trying to get to know each other, we quickly stop talking about the role that you had. And as a this dude is very different than anybody I've experienced on the recruiter side. And that the tipping point from initial outreach to I would say a friendship happened very, very quickly. But what resonated so much with me was, you were so transparent in like, the person you were looking for, for that role in what I had, and there were no false promises, or the expectations that you set were absolutely met. And having been in the job market for a while to find someone that I would hope that you would be the normal and not the outlier. Yeah. So I'm paying you a very, very high compliment. I appreciate that you are a solid individual. And that honesty was the whole reason that I wanted to talk to you about that.

Michael Cox 12:11
I appreciate that. You know, I always jokingly say, without the terrible recruiters that are out there, I wouldn't look so good. It's unfortunate, though, that individuals such as yourself, have encounters with piss poor recruiters. And we all start there. But we need to get better quickly, preferably. But I find that in having more honest conversations, I can very quickly say, Yes, solid match, no. And here's why. And more often than not, it's typically something in the middle. This does make sense. And I'm trying to be, you know, think out loud, honestly, and say, Matt, this one makes sense for you. Because of this, it doesn't make sense for you because of this. So we need to talk about those two things, those two extremes. And if I don't, what I don't like I almost went into law school. And I remember sitting down with many attorneys when I was doing an internship in college. And the one thing that always that they always hated was being, you know, surprised by something in court. I don't want to be surprised by anything when you're sitting in front of a client and you realize, Oh, this one doesn't make sense for me at all, for these five reasons that are very important to me. And I'm going to tell the client and then the client comes back to me and says, Matt was not interested in this, because of these five reasons that are very important to him, why am I speaking with him? So I prefer to have those more honest conversations. Because maybe it's because I'm taking a longer approach to this, I'm playing the long game and realizing that maybe this one doesn't make sense for you. But if I still have a conversation with you, which is ultimately always the goal to get on the phone with someone, maybe there'll be something three years from now that will or five years from now, or even longer down the road. So if I have more of these conversations, now, five years ago, four years ago, you know, it's it's like your pipeline is is should never be empty. And and you should never close the door on an individual because there may be something that might make sense for that person at some point in time. So I appreciate that. Thank you. Yes. Always trying to be honest, sometimes it's not it doesn't come across very nicely though.

Matt Sodnicar 15:10
I'll answer your your fearless question here right after this quick anecdote with one recruiter that had this opportunity, and I put my resume through the applicant tracking system, I got the score where it looks, you know, 73% is a match and push this guy fairly hard. Like I just anyway, long story short, like it had been a while. And for me, that's probably 10 days where there was no next step, no follow up, either in or out, I don't care just going back to sales, like either, let's keep moving or end it. And when I have to reach out to the recruiter, that's a red flag for me for them and their practice and their business philosophy. And he didn't even bother to edit the template, or the form email that he sent back. And he was like, Oh, they, they really enjoyed the conversation with you. But they've went another direction. And I was like, full. We didn't even talk an extra three seconds to delete the template. And it was, oh, let's stay in touch for future opportunities. And I, I invoked the 24 hour rule before I sent a response. That's my type. I type several, none of which were sense. Yeah. But the like, the first that popped into my head is like, Did you can't even, you know, auto, you can't even fix your autocorrect emails to go out. Like, what? What faith do I have in your attention to detail? Yeah, or whatever, you know?

Michael Cox 16:57
Yeah, I guess maybe worst case scenario is, he didn't remember you or your situation, what he had sets you up for. Or it was just a symptom of a combination of busy and lazy. And maybe sprinkle in a little I don't care very much anyway. And on top of that, a thick layer of an attitude of there's 1000 other you know, candidates just like you out there, so I can burn as many bridges as I wish that that stuff is is bad. Not the one that personal brand.

Matt Sodnicar 17:38
Yeah, the one I've put a pin in that I still might do is like I still keep these phone numbers from these individuals. And if I ever need to, I haven't yet full disclosure, legal protection here. But like anytime a website needs a phone number. I may Yes, probably not. But I have thought about that using their phone number of her. You no Cat Fancy subscription.

Michael Cox 18:04
Yeah, it can get darker after the Cat Fancy subscription.

Matt Sodnicar 18:08
But fearless. So yeah, tying in like Band of Brothers in this book and a couple others I read on fear is that there's a line from that HBO series where it career is being afraid but doing it anyway. Yeah. And scientifically in these in fearless SRE and nerve and then a couple other the science of fear. It's that you're not ever going to get the butterflies to go away. You're just trying to get them to fly in one direction. And yes, and in no way would I ever be so bold as to call myself fearless or even courageous because I think that does people a disservice that these are going to be large things that are going to make someone bold or courageous. But you hit upon something that I've experienced, you just start dialing the phone, you do the smallest step in the direction of what you're afraid of. And then it starts happening and I I have call reluctance. My phone sometimes weighs 500 pounds, and I cannot pick that thing up. But I have a picture of my kids over there. And I'm not calling for the company or for the client. I'm calling for them.

Michael Cox 19:34
Yeah. Those little things those little frankly, it's a it's a trick, you know, maybe call it inspiration. But whatever forces you into the slightest smallest action, whatever works right. But you're right the fear never don't even know if it. I think it does dissipate. Once you become familiar with the lie and realize, Okay, I've been through this countless times, nothing bad ever happened to me. I'm still nervous. Let's just go with it and start dialing that number, or walking through that door and realizing you just need to get through it. And so I don't think that maybe there are some individuals that exist that are fearless in this. Or maybe it's just Hollywood. But I think it's more Hollywood. I think it's just, some people get go through it so many times, that, that the the fear dissipates a bit and they've grown accustomed to it. And they're, they're motivated by service or relationship, or, or motivated to just be a stand up individual. You mentioned a band of brothers, that I read that book by major dick winters beyond Band of Brothers great book, and you realize, and he says it in the book as well, that, you know, he it's not that he wasn't afraid. It's just that he was driven by his his love for the men that he was leading.

Matt Sodnicar 21:43
So yeah, and that's something else too, that they talk about was that they talked about the the Mercury seven astronauts and how they had trained any sort of negative reaction out of the subject. So I had no idea that, like Gordon Cooper, when he went up in one of the first Mercury missions that he lost all his instrumentation, and he was basically flying this capsule in the all the power stuff went out, he was panting because he had co2, his pressing co2 poisoning. And but they had trained him for that. And so you had mentioned that it's somewhat becoming desensitized to it a little bit. And I laughed so hard, because when you said nothing bad ever happened, excuse me, I would I would tell my sales teams. They're not buying from you. Now. You cannot screw this up anymore. It's at zero. I mean, you could you could make your negative 100%. Yeah, you can make it 100% certainty that they'll hate you. And they'll never take your call again. But where are we at the sale? You don't have the sale? You're at zero. So relax.

Michael Cox 23:07
Yeah. Yes, and that might work. And other sort of reasoning may work. But I think I think it is definitely a combination of exposure therapy. Doing it over and over and over again. And getting to a level of understanding that it's not going to go away, nothing bad is gonna happen. And we're talking about sales stuff we're talking about, you know, having interactions with other human beings. More often than not, nothing extremely negative comes from that. So if you can set up some sort of a, maybe a top 10 list of all the bad things that really make you nervous. And and this is something that I had done is I start to map out what that conversation should look like, because for me, it's all conversations. These are the things that I need to get across. These are the best practices that I've developed, they're best, they're not the best, they're just good practices, let's call it that. And maybe they're always getting better. So those good practices on what to say, for all of those things that make me nervous. And then just go into it and part of the exposure therapy is practicing. And being okay with failure and building. Hopefully most organizations do this. Building an environment where it is okay to fail miserably and then say, Okay, let's see if you can do it. 1% better, or suck at it just a little bit less. And yeah, you know, But but if you don't have that you've, if you don't have an environment where it is acceptable to fail, then nothing's going to be innovated or created or developed or you're not going to move forward in sales. So, to censor

Matt Sodnicar 25:19
Oh, absolutely. It's such an unreasonable expectation that something we've never done before, should be executed perfectly. Yep. If we're, if we're building the plane while it's flying, how are we going to know what we're doing?

Michael Cox 25:36
While while it's falling? Let's say falling while Oh, yeah.

Matt Sodnicar 25:39
Yeah. Like we were capable. We've got skills. We're smart, we're adaptable, but we don't know exactly what's going on.

Michael Cox 25:47
Yeah. Yeah. And that's where a lot of help, or a bit of help, can really help if that makes sense. When I, when I left the corporate world. I had many years of sales experience, but I also had sales recruiting experience. And I had led sales teams, I'm sorry, sales, recruiting teams. And all of that experience helped. But going from inside to outside, it's completely different. Nobody wants to speak with you. The overwhelming majority of the human population has probably had a negative experience with a recruiter or headhunter. And so you have to overcome a lot of that. I had an individual that I came alongside, and he helped a ton, with when you hear this, say this, but also with regard to marketing, and approach and messaging, and all zeroed in on what is ultimately the value that you bring to to an organization. And we were able to, from that point, almost reverse engineer, all of the bits and pieces that make up what an org what my organization is. So it's so it's it's a building something like as small as my little company, you know, takes a lot of work. And some people make it look a whole lot easier than I then then I do maybe

Matt Sodnicar 27:45
I want to get into the decision point to leave corporate and go out on your own. Now, what were the factors? perceptions, what did you see feel that led to basically getting into a very, very scary situation, voluntarily?

Michael Cox 28:04
Yeah. Yeah, I made the decision to leave. So I was at the point that I left Xerox, I was leading a team across the United States of sales recruiters. And about maybe 30 individuals. And I had been in sales recruiting for many years. I felt the pool. And I saw, I've always been a pretty good connector. So I was connected to many individuals that had already made that transition. And were doing very well for themselves. And I, I dip my toe in that as well. I worked a few opportunities for them had very great success. And the wife she saw the results in the bank account. No, because I'm not going to do it for free. I fill a few jobs for them. But I start from zero with regard to the search. But it's not really zero though, because they secured the client, they got them to sign. They built that relationship to the point where now they have an opportunity to fill jobs for their clients. I just did the filling. But I did it very quickly, very effectively, very efficiently and saw the reward for it. So they had to happen several years past. And I got to the point where I had that experience. My wife felt comfortable with that possible move. And things at work. Were not working very well. the frustrations that are out there I was experienced, we're building. So I do recruiting in a certain way that is designed to get people from zero to they know me a little bit. Like if they saw my name somewhere, they might recognize it. They kind of like me only because they don't hate me. Right. Which is, as far as recruiting is concerned, it's a big difference. So they kind of know me, they don't hate me. I wouldn't say they like me. And they don't miss trust me. Everybody always wants to say, well, that's how you get from No, like, trust that, you know, that's, that's what you're trying to achieve? No, they know you. They like you. They trust you. Well, I would argue that they, they kind of knew me. They don't dislike me, and though you don't distrust me. So that's a good foundation that I start with from, let's say, the initial connection, and initial messaging, whether it be over the phone, text, email, LinkedIn, wherever. And, and at that point, and remember, we're just that they don't hate me. And they don't distrust me. At that point, that door is open for you to come to them and say something that makes a little bit of sense. And as the alternate the messaging that I didn't like was I have an excellent opportunity for you. Well, how do you how do you really know that I've got this perfect opportunity for you, you should have come to Xerox. And that was kind of the state of messaging that they were comfortable with. Let's say they was people on Hi. And I tried explaining that you don't just get married on your first date, we have to go through a almost a courtship in recruiting. And it starts with, Hey, Matt, we've been connected for some time. That's the purpose of connecting many moons before you actually need to leverage the relationship. And our relationship is that a one? The Don't hate me. Don't distrust me. And we need to take it from there, to the point where he's actually wanting to accept an offer. And either I failed in my ability to communicate, this is the way it should be done. There's a a journey of 1000 steps, every one is a little baby step. But where you start is zero relationship. And where you end is a very high level of trust. And a very high level of they like me, kind of like the Sally Field you like me you.

But But there are 1000 steps to that and you don't just go from you're not the askhole that everybody has experienced on LinkedIn, whether it's car insurance, or they're trying to sell you on, have you ever considered being a business owner? I get those a lot. But you don't go from connect to I've got a great opportunity for you. It's a much longer process. So they didn't agree with that. I felt very strongly about the the the recruiting methods that I had in place. And that disconnect coupled with the fact that there was there was a lot of just negative behavior. At the upper echelons of the organization that I couldn't jive with. So that pushes me out the door. Those are my push factors. The pull factor obviously, is I want to do this independently, it's much more lucrative. So those two things combined the pushing me out and the things that are pulling me out of the organization led to my action of leaving Xerox and hanging my own shingle. I did that at the, let's say, October timeframe, October of 2019. October, November were great. December was obviously a little slow but it made some business. And then January 2020, was great. February was good. March in the middle of March. The Ides of March, I had some deals and they were about to send release the offer letters, and they said you know what, we're just gonna, we're gonna get back to you. I'm gonna put this on hold for just a day or two. See what's going on with all this thing. And we'll get right back to and that obviously, was the moment where it was completely frozen. So from that point until end of year, there really wasn't any business happening. So it was a it was a stressful year.

Matt Sodnicar 35:16
So, eight months of no business.

Michael Cox 35:20
Yes, and I know I've shared this with you, but in that time frame my wife is diagnosed with cancer. We have three kids, and now they're stuck at home for the remainder of that school year. And going to do the whole homeschooling I'm thinking I'm paying for private school and I'm having to know my wife was having to teach these kids are kind of why we pay people to go do that for us. So then the pandemic hits. And you know, my wife when she she has a surgery is recovering from surgery get support put in has to recover from that, surprisingly, that was quite a tough thing to recover from it was actually harder than the than the surgery that she had. And then chemotherapy. And and so everybody's masking up because of you know, Coronavirus, and we're masking up just because the slightest bug could could take her out. And no money coming in. Hey, man, it was a a fear filled year to say the least. But you know, we survived off of savings. I would advise everybody, if you want to make a jump, make sure you have three to six months in the bank. Three, six months of expenses in the bank, and hopefully that'll stretch out. So that was a it was a crazy 2020 For sure. Wow, that was nuts. And then, I mean, so maybe one of the pivots that really helped was when every when all else is failing. I resorted to as far as work is concerned, just doing what I felt I could accomplish and would have good results with. So every every client or prospective client that I spoke to, and I only speak to VPs of sales, I can't really sell into HR because I can't solve their headaches. The headaches that I solved, that I solve, sit with the head of sales. Everybody is saying no, we're not hiring, obviously. But I would pivot that into how are you doing? What's going on with with sales in your organization? What I'm hearing from all the other VPs of sales that I'm speaking with, and that was kind of like, I'm gonna date myself here, but that's kind of like the EF Hutton moment. Remembering is Hutton. Yeah, EF Hutton, when EF Hutton speaks, people listen. I would mention I've had lots of conversations with the VPs of sales. This is what they're doing. Right now. This is what they're seeing. This is what they're thinking. And that would garner attention. So I became like a hub of information to these individuals, and I'm having conversations, I'm not trying to sell them anything. As a matter of fact, I helped many individuals through their transition, whether whether they were VPs of sales, or director of sales, etc, suddenly, they're out look there. Basically, it was, No, we're not hiring. As a matter of fact, we're laying off. And on top of that, I'm about to lose my job. Let me see if I can help you resume LinkedIn, how to interview with HR, then how to interview with the actual org chart, the sales org chart, because that's totally different. And I became kind of like a tour guide through that entire process for many individuals. Lo and behold, those individuals land, guess who they call when they finally do start hiring. So at the end of 2020, things actually started to move again. And the business that I secured from, let's say, q4, really it was like November, December 2020. Through most of q1 2021 was all from those relationships that I had built. And so that wasn't the goal. But I was I felt better helping people through 2020 and lo and behold, you get some business Coming back from that as well, which was nice. A very nice icing on the cake. But not the motivation. We want to make sure that so yeah, it was a very strange time and now everybody's hiring. So it's been it's been intense.

Matt Sodnicar 40:19
Well, your messaging would have come across very tone deaf, had you stayed with your original business model business plan, however you want to call it? Yeah. And people speculating, of course, but people would have been on the other end of the phone and would have asked you, do you get the news?

Michael Cox 40:43
You know, what's going on in this world? Yeah, yeah. So I was able to, you know, pivot to something that wasn't going to be helping financially, which is weird. So it might not have been a, a smart move. But there was no money coming out or recruiting anywhere anyway, or at least not for an organization that had been around for all of three or four months. But, you know, I was able to help other individuals. And one thing that I do remember that was motivating me was, you're not going to, you'll get what you want. If you help another piece, enough individuals get what they want, or what they need. So that was kind of the initial purpose, or reason for doing that.

Matt Sodnicar 41:42
So I'm hearing a lot of adaptability in your character with your wife and the kids and the business. And where did that come from? For you?

Michael Cox 41:56
No idea what maybe it might be recruiting because every situation is different. I mean, it could be sales as well, because every conversation that I would have when I was in sales, it doesn't go by the playbook, and it doesn't go by the script. You know, scripts are nice for me to train with. But I'm actually going to have to have real conversations with real human beings. So maybe that helped prepare that. prepare me for all of that, that was going to go wrong, that did go wrong. But that adaptability. There's a there's a Spanish name and be true. There's a saying in Spanish says, it says no, either Ultra, there's no other way. There's no other alternative, but go forward.

And if you don't adapt, you're going to be stuck in not moving forward. So my I don't know if I would say, let's, I guess if I'm being honest, my desperate

shift was help as many individuals as possible. And I can't help people that are in tech, because I don't speak that language. So I was helping those that I could while trying to develop some sort of business somewhere, but that was

Matt Sodnicar 43:38
well, the Spanish phrase, what was it? No, no el okra?

Michael Cox 43:41
No, no ay de otra.

Matt Sodnicar 43:45
No ay de otra? Yeah, it's a it's when that's the only decision that can be made. It's an easy one to make.

Michael Cox 43:54
Exactly. When when you get really tired of twiddling your thumbs, and doing a lot of useless things that aren't helping anybody else anyway. Might as well do something that is financially useless, but might help you keep sharp, you know, stay close to the people that you should be staying close to anyway. And keeps you informed about what's going on with your prospective candidates or clients anyway. So I was lucky. I mean, the weird thing is that in a group that I'm a part of, that are some sales recruiters and a lot of other types of recruiters. They were trying to do this for the for the money, you know, trying to charge people $5,000 For a LinkedIn review when a resume revamp and all that stuff, and I could not bring myself to doing that. So maybe maybe that's why people felt as though they were on the hook to pay me back in some way. And some of those folks did. In in a future engagement. So it's a everybody does it different maybe.

Matt Sodnicar 45:16
So the middle of the pandemic cancer treatment, kids at home, savings burn right on there. Was there? Was there a moment? That was the epicenter of testing your adaptability? Fear? Did was there? Do you remember a moment or moments that were? I don't know. Beyond how we're going to do this? I don't know if I can do this.

Michael Cox 45:51
Yeah, man. I'm there were a few, the one that was most visceral, that was the scariest was some a recruiter, buddy of mine had sent me an email that forwarded me something he said, Hey, man, I'm doing okay, we got business coming in. The this company's asking for, they're looking for somebody to work, contract work for them. So maybe you tell them your your rate, and maybe you go work for somebody else, and leave the whole independent lifestyle behind. So I had a conversation with them, they were very interested, it would have been, you know, a serious influx of cash, which we hadn't seen in quite some time. And they were interested in moving forward, and I was desperate to move forward. The literally so there's, there's like a, there's always like a things in the background that are going on with any individual at the point of a possible career change. At that point, it was the funds are going down, this was around April timeframe. They wanted me to work full time with them for like six months. And it would have been a financial windfall, it would have been very nice. But this is this is weird. I wasn't going to be able to dedicate ain it myself to anyone full time, because of the care of my wife. I'm now doing the the driving around the kids to soccer and ballet and things like that, to try and keep their lives at least a little bit normal. And cooking and doing everything that I'm not saying that that was her job. We both did that. But at that point in time, she couldn't do anything. So caring for her keeping the house, you know, in order the family in order and and I just wasn't gonna be able to do it. So I told them no, it was crazy. The fear at that point was I need to go find another job. But I can't do that because I can't work a full time gig. Where am I going to go find a new job that will let me work for them only 20 hours a week and when I choose to do so. So at that point, I think that was the the peak of fear as a provider sole provider. That wasn't quite providing anything anyway to decide to maybe leave all of this ridiculous working 80 hours I don't have to work for anybody else for 40 hours. Lifestyle behind. So yeah, I think that was probably the worst part. Or the worst point was nuts

Matt Sodnicar 49:18
that would be the magnitude of a decision that means Wow.

Michael Cox 49:27
Yeah, yeah, we it was it was crazy, dude, I wouldn't wish this on on anybody. You know, everybody says, Oh, I wouldn't wish this on my worst enemy. I might wish this on on a worst enemy. I don't have any worst enemies. Fortunately, it's like low grade enemies. I wouldn't wish this on any of those low grade enemies. Because yeah, it's it was it was pretty intense. The Things started to loosen up, you know, in the in the, in the economy, right around that timeframe as well. So maybe one of the motivators to not take on a full time gig with some organization was that I was starting to see that I was starting to hear that from the heads of sales that I was having conversations with. And shortly thereafter it I started receiving some some work. And but now in hindsight, you can say, oh, yeah, that worked out nicely. But you don't see beyond that first little, that next baby step that you have to take. And and so some of those steps, you're seriously, I can feel myself kind of reaching with my toe to see if I can feel solid ground. And there, there really isn't anything. So yeah, man, it was a it was intense, to rely on that blind faith, that there is going to be something there, you know, that will carry you through the next step. So not to get too deep on you

Matt Sodnicar 51:18
know, that's the whole reason we're talking. How long was the decision process? Right. And that's the other thing that I've had to learn too, is that it's not necessarily the speed of the decision. It's the accuracy of it. So from the time that you had the full time offer, to the time that you declined it, that how long was that you recall?

Michael Cox 51:42
Oh, yeah. And unfortunately, there was a weekend in there as well, which is, like, just prolongs the rest of that, right?

Matt Sodnicar 51:55
The Sunday scaries.

Michael Cox 51:59
There you go. So I would say the decision had probably been made. As I was having final conversations. I knew any, is crazy. It was a hidden blessing that I had no work at that time. But I knew I wasn't going to be able to work full time for anybody else. So that kind of made it easier that the difficult situation that we found ourselves in, almost made it a little bit easier to say no. But it was probably so it was from a Friday to Monday, Monday, I had a conversation with him. And I said, Look, these are the these are the limitations that I have. And, you know, sharing them once again, in ugly honesty. That's what I could do what I couldn't do for them. And then blame it on them, telling them not only the Are these my limitations, these are my expectations. And and they were, you know, in agreement that that wasn't going to work, which is fine, which is also unfortunate, in many ways. But you know, not all decisions are easy. And a lot of them are fear filled. But they you can't run from that responsibility to make that decision. So they made their decision, which was we, we can't move forward. So maybe I was robbed of the opportunity to make the decision when I laid out for them. What I could and couldn't do and what they had to come up with to move forward. But yeah, it was a it was difficult for me not to lie to you. I could have just lied to them and said, Yeah, I'll do the work. I'm going to be working from home. This organization is in Europe, they're not going to know, I could just lie to them and say I'm going to work full time and then not do it and see how long that lasts. But I couldn't do I couldn't bring myself to doing that either. That was actually more difficult. That would have been more a more difficult decision to go with.

Matt Sodnicar 54:27
Yeah, and you would have been exposed eventually. Right? There's Yeah, you only hide so much for so long.

Michael Cox 54:34
Yep, exactly. Definitely.

Matt Sodnicar 54:37
But I think that would have just from the looking through the straw on your world at that point that would have added to the stress I think so much would have alleviated the financial stress, certainly, but at what cost because now you're choosing between that and you're choosing between I mean, your wife or your kids, or, or you could be sitting on a zoom call, and I've experienced this when the dog barks, or the doorbell rings, or you're in the middle of a conversation, and then there's something, a distraction and not that your family is a distraction, but there's something that is, pulls you away. Right? And then all of a sudden, it's like, we're literally sitting on a video call, why is my pulse going up the system? And yeah, just experience that for even one day, much less six months? Oh, my goodness. I know.

Michael Cox 55:44
Yeah, yeah. So I guess maybe to fast forward. wife gets through chemotherapy. And there, there is a lot of stuff that if you haven't lived through, or been in close proximity to cancer, there's a lot that we don't know. And we don't realize we ring the bell, she rings the bell, and you think, Okay, we're done with this. But you ring the bell at your last chemotherapy. So you still have to recover from that, depending on what you're on and what they're pumping through your body, it's going to take a long time, just to get past that last treatment. For her it was about a month to where she would start feeling a little bit better. And then they would hit you with the next dose. So they just kept it constant. But that last one, her chemotherapy, she gets through it that's one month and then you're thinking okay, well Belle was wrong but we're not done with it one month goes by okay, we're not really done with it because it takes forever to fully recover from chemotherapy. So it's we've had to learn to be not so frustrated not so pissed off about how long it's taking to recover I'm guessing it's probably going to take at least a year in maybe a year and a half to to get her to the point where she feels the way she did before. So it's gonna it's gonna take a long time and so there are all these micro adjustments that need to be made to keep things close to an acceptable level of what you're now going to call normal. Mm hmm So yeah, it's it's quite a journey just the whole cancer thing let alone you put on top of that a total lack of income and and all of the things that you know that come with that this would have been a whole lot easier for me to have done when I was single and had no kiddos would be the fun in that though.

Matt Sodnicar 58:13
Do you think you would have been equipped though?

Michael Cox 58:15
Oh gosh, no. No, it's not to say that people that are younger can't do it.

It's just going to look very different and I'm relying upon the callus that life has built up on me to do all of this you know I find that the there are no real highs or real lows in my life you know, home most emotional moment my daughter was born my son was born my other daughter was born and I'm just kind of like a this is a good day you know, chill. Because they're there everything is is just I don't know it's like gently rolling hills in there every now and again you have something really major happen in your life whether it'd be really high or really low. And I think you just need to live through it with this a kind of like a okay, we're going through this and I need to be stable if not for myself, certainly for others through this entire thing

Matt Sodnicar 59:38
well in the in the fact that I take pride in the things I've been through that have affected my outlook and my personality, temporarily. And it could be sometimes say up to a year but somebody asked me this week if what would Something that my friends would describe me as, and I would say resilient. And I can tell we've spent several hours together and I can tell that it, it hasn't dimmed your light your energy. It came back, I'm sure it went down, and I'm sure it was. There were moments where you weren't Michael, but you didn't stay there.

Michael Cox 1:00:28
Yeah. You know, the I'm getting close to platitude zone here need to be careful. I can't stand the internet platitudes that have nice backgrounds. But circumstances don't define. This should not define you. My wife isn't going to introduce herself as Hi cancer survivor. So those things don't define who you are. And if that's the case, if you're not mad at the guy, that is this thing, then they shouldn't shake you either. When when something explodes in your life. But at least myself, I I don't think I could be as resilient now as you know, without those, you know, 4849 years past having lived through some shit.

Matt Sodnicar 1:01:39
Yeah, those that, say the what?

Michael Cox 1:01:44
You're basically your circumstances define you

Matt Sodnicar 1:01:47
right? Professional podcaster. Hear? Words, words are hard. It doesn't define you shouldn't shake you.

Michael Cox 1:01:57
Yeah, there you go. That's okay. Put that on an Instagram post.

Matt Sodnicar 1:02:03
Let's think back to the Simpsons where Bart was getting his his pocket knife and they had the thing is like, don't do what Donnie don't does. It's a nice. I could have been clear. Yeah. Exactly. Nice job. Yeah, it was awesome. We're leaving that in.

Michael Cox 1:02:24
There you go. Yeah, that's good. That's gonna be the clip. The Yeah, cuz if this had shook me, I mean, let's say, failure. For 910 months, I would have run back. If that had shook me severely enough, I would have run back to the safe corporate, corporate job. Corps, I was successful, I was good at what I did. And I had a steady paycheck. And I had the benefits for everybody and car, give them a car, they give me computers and a home office and cell phone and all that good stuff. It shook me if cancer had shook us deeply enough. Does does that change my status as father and husband? So I'm gonna let the cleaning lady in.

All right. So it's those things that make us more resilient. It's just life. That's practicing life. Without that practice, I mean, maybe the simplest things would knock us down pretty quick.

Matt Sodnicar 1:04:06
So true.

Michael Cox 1:04:08
And there may be something that'll knock me on my ass. I'm hoping I'm hoping that I won't experience that just yet without having had practice to prepare for it right.

Matt Sodnicar 1:04:22
Yeah, just just make me capable. That's all. That's all I want to be.

Michael Cox 1:04:28
Yeah, man. Stand up in that.

Matt Sodnicar 1:04:32
Well, Michael, this has been wonderful. Exactly what I expected. It was so rewarding, man. Thank you.

Michael Cox 1:04:39
I've enjoyed the conversation. And I think we should do this on a regular basis.

Matt Sodnicar 1:04:44
I would totally down with

Michael Cox 1:04:45
the eye. Often when sharing these sorts of things that you take a moment now like just over an hour's worth of time to look back and think wow, yeah, we did go through that. Because, you know, cancer comes and goes and your thing, you're just left there and like the world window, and when when, when the whirlwind settles down, and you're just kind of left there like, wow, that was a exhausting. Okay, well, I gotta get the kids to practice anyway. But when you take a moment to, to look back and realize, wow, we've been through some real crazy stuff, you know, you're able to take account. So I appreciate the time to do so.

Matt Sodnicar 1:05:37
That's it's been wonderful adding you to the friend universe that I have. That's just just a joy. Yeah, definitely.

Michael Cox 1:05:45
I appreciate that next time, you're over here, I'm over there, it'll be, you know, the categorization of friend these days when we've got so much going on is probably as simple as just as simple as somebody that I can sit across the table from and have a meal and a great conversation. And then maybe upgrade that someday to you know, if something goes down with this individual, I'd really like to, I'd really enjoy the the opportunity to help out in any way I can. Because that would be a blessing to me, not just to that individual, you know, I know so maybe it's just very selfish. I'd like to, to be there for you, kind of thing. Well, what

Matt Sodnicar 1:06:36
a great thing to be selfish about for sure. Yeah, definitely. post links to all of your contact info, but where can people track down the company track you down?

Michael Cox 1:06:46
Wow. So zag works is the company it's with an ex, but if you spell it right, I've got that website as well. Nobody goes there, though. And that's okay. That's more like proof that the organization exists. Really, it would probably be just go to LinkedIn, you can find me there Michael G. Cox. Or even easier, go to the sales And that'll take you to my LinkedIn profile. And they'll do what's in it for you, if you'd like to connect is if there's ever anything I can do questions I can answer with regard to a job search. You know, one of two things is going to happen I'm going to either I mean they're going to help or tell you that I can't because of some limitation of knowledge and I'll try and get you to the right person. So welcome the opportunity to do

Matt Sodnicar 1:07:42
that. A powerful ally for sure.

Michael Cox 1:07:46
Yeah, hopefully.

Matt Sodnicar 1:07:50
Well, Michael, thank you so much for recording I really appreciate it

Michael Cox 1:07:54
yeah, I've had a blast and look forward to doing it again soon.

Matt Sodnicar 1:07:57
Thanks. And as promised here is math man by Claire Beeler you can find the whole track on Spotify in the show notes enjoy

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Unknown Speaker 1:09:03
home for you now but when he gets Thursday succeed Oh Bertie is now the when you go to lie you Oh and it's so bad. Oh burns all the birds about fire now be down days I have frigid winters. I hope you all will be do everything with a sense of fly though but I'll follow the fire

Unknown Speaker 1:09:42
it was never the books we use go but I wouldn't mind. The good intros you're much but about 1000 bucks wouldn't even be surprised if you ever left he said they're never even they're just raw. He said thank you. Bye Let's face but I guess I can never was bad I you know if the when you kiss Thursday socks either oh she birdie is now the when you thought you Oh and it's so bad Oh burns all the birds about fire now be down days i afraid your winters I hope you all do everything with a sense of pride though but I'll follow the fire well kids search today succeed she's 39 and so Ben burns out the goods now stays Fred you no with a sense of hope it all falls by your grip the word so bad bad burn a bad fridge

Matt Sodnicar 1:12:52
episodes of this podcast are produced and written by me Matt Sodnicar The intro was engineered by good friend Cole Weinman. And our original score theme song retro funk was composed by previous guests and good friend Randy we also have two requests. If you liked this show, please share it with a friend who you think might like it. And also take the time to show them how to listen to a podcast either on Apple transistor or Spotify. And I know you know somebody out there that would make a fantastic guest. And if you do, please shoot me an email to podcast at the warm Thanks for listening

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