Gen Z Talent Wars and the Middle Market

Hosted By Matt DeCoursey

Full Scale

See All Episodes With Matt DeCoursey

Dustin Baker

Today's Guest: Dustin Baker

CEO & Founder - Shatterbox

Tulsa, Oklahoma

Ep. #1146 - Gen Z, Talent Wars, and the Middle Market

In this episode of Startup Hustle, host Matt DeCoursey interviews Dustin Baker, CEO and founder of Shatterbox, an e-learning apprenticeship and talent placement company. Learn how to attract and retain Gen Z in today’s talent wars. Also, hear them share their thoughts on mentorship, work culture, and reinventing apprenticeship.

Covered In This Episode

Dustin and Matt discuss the challenges of finding talent in the Gen Z era, the growing trend of remote work, and the importance of creating a compelling narrative and work environment to attract and retain employees. They touch on the issue of the labor shortage and the need for businesses to adapt and offer unique solutions to attract talent. They also discuss the importance of critical thinking and initiative in the workplace. 

  • Gen Z is entering the workforce, and businesses are struggling to attract and retain talent.
  • One way to attract Gen Z talent is to offer remote work options.
  • Another way to attract Gen Z talent is to create a fun and cool work environment.
  • Gen Z employees want to be valued and have a say in how they do their work.
  • Businesses offering these things will attract and retain Gen Z talent more successfully.

Dustin shares an example of mentoring a student who caught an error in a loan application that others might have missed, demonstrating the value of connecting dots and thinking critically. They emphasize the need for employees to have a vested interest in their work and the significance of matching people with roles they are passionate about. The conversation also touches on the importance of storytelling and creating an authentic narrative for the company. They highlight the challenges of talent acquisition and the need to create a workplace culture that people value.

Get Started with Full Scale

Dustin’s advice to businesses is to create a work environment that is fun, engaging, and meaningful. Overall, the conversation highlights the importance of valuing employees, providing meaningful work, and creating a positive work culture.

Are you ready to work with Gen Z? Join the conversation in this Startup Hustle episode now.

Best Entrepreneur Podcast Available on Spotify, Apple and Google Podcasts


  • Dustin Baker’s backstory (1:34)
  • Negative unemployment (2:44)
  • Tulsa’s remote economy (4:18)
  • Attracting the right talent (7:28)
  • Listening to the echo and secrets to retaining talents (9:22)
  • The challenges of hiring people in a competitive industry (15:18)
  • Using behavioral analytics to attract talent (18:44)
  • Shatterbox’s  52-week Apprenticeship Program (22:34)
  • Mentoring and providing tools for the next generation of talent (26:48)
  • How to qualify someone (30:39)
  • Passion is a big driver of a high retention rate (33:02)
  • Be authentic to your story (37:07)
  • Talent Wars (38:04)
  • Reinventing apprenticeship (40:35)
  • The importance of continually evolving the process and not being afraid to push the envelope (43:39)

Key Quotes

As a founder or a CEO, whoever it is, if you ever get to the point where you believe that any of those people work for you, you’re looking at it incorrectly. I work for the employees at Full Scale, right? And without them, I’m just a dude looking for something to do, and they know that. So creating a culture that listens to our employees and then, you know, and then like there’s a level of appreciation. Now you get that basic foundation, and then you can turn to your existing employees and turn them into a recruitment tool that is beyond leverageable.

– Matt DeCoursey

We do use behavioral analytics at Shattrbox. We’re attracting kids straight out of college to grads, four and five years out of college, that haven’t found that career they’ve loved yet. You know, they’re bouncing around, they took the job making the most money, they’re trying to pay off student debt, they don’t love what they’re doing. We’ve got a great story to tell, but we haven’t told it very well as an industry. And I think there’s a lot of industries like that where hey, you can make an impact while you’re doing your work. You can, you know, when you close an SBA loan, you’re creating jobs in a local community. Its economic impact, and it’s lucrative, you know, and you’ve got the freedom to work from wherever. So as we tell that story, yeah, it’s really compelling. And so now we’re building these pipelines of talented young people, but they don’t have any SBA experience.

– Dustin Baker

A big driver of that high retention rate for us is a high and heavy emphasis on getting people into long-term roles where they’re doing things that they’re passionate about. Because if you do something, if you’re doing something that you’re passionate about, it makes it so much easier to get up and do it on the days when you’re not hyper-motivated to do it.

– Matt DeCoursey

I think if I can encourage folks to do one thing, it would be to think really intentionally about your story, your narrative, how you tell it, making sure that it’s consistent with what you’re delivering when you bring people in. And, you know, most of us, to be honest, we’re all busy doing the work that we’re understaffed to do. And so we don’t spend as much time kind of working on the business thinking about those things as we do working in the business. And, you know, we could, we could all probably afford to knock some of the rust off the story and make sure that we’re being authentic to kind of what we want to do and how we’re telling that story.

– Dustin Baker

Sponsor Highlight

Do you need software engineers, testers, or leaders for your team? Full Scale can provide skilled personnel and the platform necessary to aid you in establishing and overseeing a team of professionals that exclusively serve your organization. Simply visit and respond to a few inquiries. Our platform will pair you with our extensively evaluated and highly qualified software engineers, testers, and leaders.

Check out our Startup Hustle partners if you need help with your startup. These organizations support the startup community and offer varied services for different businesses.

Rough Transcript

Following is an auto-generated text transcript of this episode. Apologies for any errors!

Matt DeCoursey  00:00

And we’re back. Back for another episode of Startup Hustle, Matt DeCoursey here to have another conversation I’m hoping helps your business grow. Here we go Gen Z talent wars and the middle market. And there’s a lot of stuff that we’re going to unpack on today’s episode. Startup Hustle before I let you know who I’m going to have today’s conversation with. This episode is sponsored by full Hiring software developers is difficult and Full Scale can help you build a software team quickly and affordably and has a platform to help you manage that team go to to learn more. If you’re not aware, that’s my company. We love talking to Startup Hustle listeners. So come on by the site takes like two minutes fill out a couple questions and the platform will match you up with people that can hopefully help you build your dreams and make them come true. With me today. I’ve got Dustin Baker, Dustin is the founder and CEO of Shatterbox. That’s an E Learning apprenticeship and talent placement company out of Tulsa, Oklahoma shadowboxes. Also on Startup Hustle’s list of top Tulsa startups you can learn more about what they do by going to There’s a link in the show notes for that somewhere down and around where that Full Scale link is. Why don’t you scroll on down right now and collect both of them. So you can get a little context. You haven’t listened. You know a little bit more about me learn a little bit more about chatterbox. But let’s get right into this. Dustin, welcome to Startup Hustle.


Dustin Baker  01:23

Thanks, Matt. And I’m really glad to be here. Appreciate you having me.


Matt DeCoursey  01:26

Yeah, let’s let’s, let’s begin today’s conversation and journey with a little bit more about your backstory.


Dustin Baker  01:34

So about a week after I started shaving, I went to work for the trade association for for the US Small Business Administration’s flagship loan program and kind of was my side door into that industry been there for 20 years plus doing all kinds of things around SBA lending and kind of landed in the staffing space. So I’ve kind of run a recruitment, executive search firm in the SBA space exclusively for the last 14 years. And we’re kind of the largest firm that does that in that sector. And through the pandemic that just kind of began to spin other doors of opportunity open, I think like for a lot of people. And so now we’re doing that. But we’re kind of taking that in a different direction with chatterbox and trying to solve this massive labor shortage in our industry that think a lot of industries are dealing with, and putting some kind of new tools out there that our industry has never seen to do that think that can translate into a lot of the other industries dealing with similar problems. So that’s kind of what chatterbox is all about, and how I kind of landed here doing this.


Matt DeCoursey  02:44

Yeah, I mean, we’re we’re in adjacent but not competitive. Businesses, meaning like, the struggle is real, you know, and that’s part of why we started Full Scale was to try to help businesses have a faster path to the people that were needle movers, you know, and that’s tough to do. And and for those of you that aren’t aware there, you know, you get if you read the Wall Street Journal, it’ll indicate that somehow our economy is slowing the jobs report does not indicate that there are significantly more jobs available in America across all jobs than there are people that are looking for jobs, which means we have a negative unemployment rate on many levels. Now, stats, America, we have an unemployment rate of 3%. No, we don’t. I mean, we really don’t, and a lot of ways, because here’s the thing, that 3% of people that are looking for jobs, those jobs might be full, but we got a whole lot of other ones that we can’t fill. So what are you going to do to do that? And like with a no, I’m kind of, you know, I’m not off on a rant here. Because I think this is important, because as an entrepreneur, you owe it to yourself and your business to go, you look at opportunity, success and the right people aren’t always going to come find you. You gotta go find them. And in our case, like, so, you know, we deal with technical talent. So developers, testers and software leaders, do you want to talk about negative unemployment, right, 100% of US cities have a negative unemployment rate for developers and then your hometown of Tulsa, will actually pay people as a 10 grand to come move there.


Dustin Baker  04:18

Yeah, so the Tulsa remote program is interesting. That’s kind of how I got to Tulsa. As a business owner or remote worker, you can basically get paid a relocation fee to come live here. And then they also put you in this sort of incubated environment with a couple 1000 other people who’ve moved here, they create kind of free co working subsidized office situations. And that’s just one piece of what they’re doing from kind of a micro economic development standpoint here.


Matt DeCoursey  04:48

They’ve they’ve just, those are reactionary measures to an impossible job market because Because let’s be real, I’m in Kansas City, you’re in Tulsa. I love my hometown, but it’s not set. See on the outside, neither is Tulsa people. I got my new computer science degree, I’m packing it up. And I’m moving to Tulsa to get rich now in New York or San Francisco or somewhere else that like most people have heard of.


Dustin Baker  05:14

Well, and I think too, like it’s it’s always about narrative and story. And so if we’re talking about how to attract talent, you better have a compelling story, you better know what your distinctives are. And so Tulsa has figured that out, right, and that is, you’re not going to get rich. If you live in New York or San Francisco, no matter how much you make, you’re going to spend a hell of a lot of time sitting in your car, trying to park your car, just you can bring your groceries in your apartment, right. And so you can move to Tulsa. And now with this new remote economy, you can make very similar money and you can deploy it, you actually may only have 10, restaurants, you want to go eat out, but you actually have time to go sit down and have that meal and snack actually, in a house, you can buy a house in proximity to downtown, there’s nowhere that I have to go from where I’m sitting that I can’t get to in 15 minutes, anytime of the day in Tulsa,


Matt DeCoursey  06:08

Kansas City and Tulsa, in my opinion, our founder heaven was if you can structure things right now you’re gonna be have to be a little more creative. You know, you look at like, what you guys do a chatterbox or what we do at Full Scale. Like, I’m a global citizen, Dustin, like I you know, like my company by nature is remote. And there’s a big debate with that right now. So this is, you know, we went from the everyone being pushed to remote everyone wanting remote. And now there’s this country no, come back to the office battle. For us. We just said, you know, we’re remote. And we made that a pillar. Because when we announced that we would not bring any staff back to the office and most of my employees are in the Philippines. Do we got three that word hit the street, there and we got three times we get a lot of applicants are ready with a huge spike because that word got out, because, and we knew that would happen. But that was part of you talking about shaping that narrative, right? Like and that’s why we want to come work for you. That matters. Now we have Gen Z in the title of this episode, all right, Gen Z, get your shit together is what I want to say like you can’t come in, you can’t come in to everything with a sense of self entitlement and expectation. Like, that’s not always a great thing. But at the same time, we need you and our workforce. So there’s there’s this transformational thing going on


Dustin Baker  07:28

right now, you know, when I think that there’s a real sort of mixed opinion about Gen Z, I’ll tell you the first two w two employees that we’ve hired a chatterbox are 22 and 26 years old, and they’re both bad asses, and E them who can work from wherever in the world, they want support. They’re grownups, and they get their stuff done at a high level, rapidly. And so


Matt DeCoursey  07:51

are you gonna start there? Right, yeah.


Dustin Baker  07:55

And so I think that’s that the bottom line is you do have to hire grownups. And that’s about selection. It’s about making sure that you know, who you’re bringing in. And so, but I will say this, like from like a remote work standpoint. So I’m a work in staffing and SBA, which is banking, right. And banking is traditionally stuffy and and you gotta you go into your brick and mortar office, and I have it close placed a non remote employee. And for years in my business on pre pandemic, I wasn’t placing non remote employees. So I think that’s a distinctive that maybe is less distinctive now. Right? And so you, you have to if you’re if you’re going to attract folks to meet the needs of your business, whatever that business is, you’ve got to figure out what’s compelling about your story over against the other folks, because there’s, there’s increased, so we talk about Gen Z. And so let’s let’s go into that a little bit.


Matt DeCoursey  08:48

For everybody. Dawson. I mean, like that. Now, that’s a compelling story for some people. But like, I mean, in the end human nature, you want to work in a place that’s fun and cool.


Dustin Baker  08:58

And where you’re valued, and where you get to do things.


Matt DeCoursey  09:01

fun and cool. Yeah, if you don’t feel valued, or it’s a lame place to work, then funds out.


Dustin Baker  09:08

Yeah, well, and where you’ve got some control over your desk, and how you do the work as long as the results, you know, meritocracy. It’s all those things that people talk about. But do they really deliver it? You know, and people figure out real quick if it’s just, and then they’re on


Matt DeCoursey  09:22

and there’s Yeah, and that is true, you know, for us, like there’s a few things that are, you know, our model coming into a lot of this and my company grew pretty quick. You know, we’re over 300 employees. And our fifth birthday is in June of 2023. So growing fast now, without in the Philippines, we had a lot of people that were trying to recruit top talent. And so when we hired our first 15 people, we sat them down and ahead and ended up conversation with all of them. What are the things that you loved about the places you’ve worked in the past? And what are the things that you have hated? And you know, and so if you’re a regular listener, you know where I’m going with this. You listen for the Echo. Sorry, that’s like one of my things I say a lot. But entrepreneurs do that you hear the echo. So in those conversations, that I mean, there were three or three to five things that were really echoey. Like they weren’t, they didn’t feel that they were valued. That’s the first thing. They didn’t feel that they were paid fairly, the equipment that they used was garbage. And then they weren’t challenged. And so with that, we shaped our whole model around that we’re going to have top pay, we’re going to have top benefits, we’re going to have top equipment that goes without even being discussed. And then we try to be really picky about what our clients and projects are. Because we want you to feel engaged, you shouldn’t be developer with 15 years of experience doing entry level stuff that would bore the hell out of me. So yeah, so it’s some of it’s that shaping it up and matching it. And like we’re not a freelance marketplace. For that reason, we take a lot of pride, and I’m sure you do as well, and finding that right match. Because there’s some bank that you’re like, I would never place anyone there. And then there’s probably another one. I’m hoping I can get you in here.


Dustin Baker  11:03

Yeah, yeah, well, and if you do have the luxury of working on accounts, whether that’s a project or client, or trying to hire somebody for where you believe in the story that makes a lot of difference to and so we’ve been able to be selective with regard to that for for a long time. But it’s funny, you know, when you what you didn’t say, came up in the Echo is money. Now you said you do. They were underpaid, underpaid, and that’s the other two, but it’s just as often to me that I’m, I’m not getting the intellectual or the emotional compensation, that I’m really looking for that that and I’ve placed 500 People probably in my space in the last 14 years. And that’s, that’s why people call generally, unless you’re just wildly underpaid. Those are the those are the reasons that people finally decide, like I’ve got to make gotta make a change. So


Matt DeCoursey  11:59

if people feel like they’re moving toward forward towards their goals, I wrote about this, in my book balance, make people feel like they’re moving, moving forward. Like with their, with their skills, or their goals, or they’re doing things that they’re passionate about, money isn’t the primary concern. But if you can deliver both of that, that, okay, so in 2022, which was very known as the year of the resignation, we had a 93% employee retention rate. And I tell people that they don’t, they don’t believe me, dude. And it’s true, though. But with that, so you talked about the pay. And the other thing, too, like, you look at something like equipment, for me, a software developer is as a ninja, or a samurai, and you don’t give a samurai a butter knife and tell him to go out and, and take you know, and go out and fight the good fight. And, and those are little annoying things, we’ve snapped a few things onto that, because I’m a big believer and CSR, corporate social responsibility. So we’ve also like kind of wrapped community involvement and engagement up with team building. So like, we might do a team building thing, but we’ll let them choose like, and our employees want this more than they just want to go like ziplining, you know, so like, they’ll get together and they’ll like, have a party, like a little, a little barbecue or something, they’ll clean up by an entire beach, and then have a barbecue on it and clean that up. And you know, like some of that is and they get, they’re getting that personal involvement. And they’re also, just like, you look at the Philippines, a lot of people have come into countries like that and kind of abuse them. So working for a company that, that gives back to the community and just direct and treats it properly. And with respect, like we get a ton of people like I think that has a big thing to do. You get the sense of pride and where you work. You’re not You’re not It’s not like Sorry, Exxon sue me if you want, but I’ll never work for you. Because I feel like your product is destroying everything around it. Now, you know, so it’s hard to you know, so there’s there’s some scheduling with that dude, with developers, they care more about the technology they’re working with, in that they’re challenged, and they do about pay?


Dustin Baker  14:06

Yeah. And then if you’re fairly paid retention is going to be you know, 93% and the year of the great resignation. So yeah,


Matt DeCoursey  14:14

we adjust that we review that stuff every six months. And, you know, Full Scale you get, you get a raise every six months, even if it’s just like and not once a year, you know, like, and we spread that out. And we also just review some of that and like, you know, obviously we have people that generate revenue, we want to make sure that that’s rewarded. And I mean, it’s amazing how, how far an attaboy or Abba girl can go, you know, just like, Hey, you did a good job. Thank you.


Dustin Baker  14:46

Yeah, yeah. Well, so what are the things that you guys are what are you guys doing in terms of trying to, or how have you done it if you’ve hired 300 People in five years in a mark? Good. That’s that there just as some pattern and a problem, right? You’ve you’ve offshored some of that, again, gone and hired in the Philippines.


Matt DeCoursey  15:10

Shortly I have six employees in the US. 309 in the Philippines. Yeah, yeah. Well, that’s one way. How do we do that?


Dustin Baker  15:18

Yeah, I’m just in this environment, like what’s worked for you because the labor shortage here and it sounds like that’s what what’s worked for you, because you’ve got people baby boomers are finally retiring and mass, right? You’ve got immigration policy, that’s not real good for employment here in the US, you’ve got a whole bunch of people that have resigned and decided to start their own businesses. Now they need employees, too, right? So you’ve got all of these factors rolling. And these are like, these are macro issues, right? The micro issue is interest rates and a couple of bank failures and whatever, like that’ll blow off and the macro issues are still there. So like, for shadowbox, that’s the problem that we see that a lot of these companies are going to have to solve for. And so I’m interested to hear a little bit more of your story about how you guys have pulled that off in tech, which is, maybe there’s some hiring opportunities now. But in general, there have not been super


Matt DeCoursey  16:15

competitive. Yeah, yeah. Well, well, first off, I mentioned going to opportunities, so and a lot of a lot of foreign countries. 25 years ago, 30 years ago, had the foresight that we didn’t necessarily have in the US, which was to start training people in maths for a world related to computer science, like the reality of, of education, and I some people Yeah, but the quality, hey, all I know is there’s a hell of a lot of programmers in the Philippines a lot more there. There’s probably as many programmers in the Philippines, which has a quarter of the population of the US is there isn’t the entire US. Yeah, I think some of that you got to position yourself where that opportunity is. And then as I mentioned, the very first people that came in and tell us what you like, tell us what you did. And it’s a very simple model, you do more of what they like now, as a founder, or a CEO, whoever it is, if you never get to the point where you believe that any of those people work for you. You’re looking at it and correct I work for the employees at Full Scale, right and without them I’m just a dude looking for something to do and they know that so creating a culture that that lessons to our employees and and then you know, and then like there’s a level of appreciation now you get that basic foundation and then you can turn to your existing employees and turn them into a recruitment tool that is beyond leverageable. Because here’s the thing is like so I compete with big box companies that have big opera Accenture, national cash register Lexmark he ACERA IBM, there’s the thing those are on the surface, great companies to work for. But they’re also like Globo Corp, you know, like you’re a cog in a machine, your employee Oh, 482 at Full Scale your your Dustin, you know, and whatever. And


Dustin Baker  18:05

John, Val John have,


Matt DeCoursey  18:07

right. And so some of that, as you know, then you create that, and then they bring people in. And then honestly, dude, we actually made this sounds weird, because you’re trying to hire more people. We made it hard to get a job. We’re very, very picky, like only one in 42 applicants gets gets a job offer, because we have to meet. I would love that if that’s just where that falls because we the challenging part about hiring people is there’s not probably not an assessment tool for figuring out how much someone knows about SBA lending and gives you a percent or maybe create one.


Dustin Baker  18:44

No, you become the assessment tool if you do what I do and the issue and are safe. And we do a compensation study, I just published my seventh version of it. And we 25 of the top 100 lenders in the country participated. So 15% of market share represented. So I know from HR people and Comp Committee people at these banks, I know exactly what people in our industry make at every level of experience. I know what their incentive is all the percentiles. And so when I take that proprietary information to market it makes it a whole lot easier to write sighs You know, compensation. What I’ve what we found is in the last four years, operational people are now about 30% More expensive across the board than they were four years ago. And that’s because, you know, we had a two and a half year spotlight on the, during the pandemic on the SBA program demand is, you know, at an all time high, and there’s a finite number of people with that really specialized skill set. And so they’re making more and more and more for less and less and less experience. And that was the breaking point where we realized we’ve got to create a new generation of talent or not only are we not going to meet programmed demand, our industry is going to begin to sort of atrophy and waste away you know, like and there’s a finite number of people to choose from. And so so to your point of one and 42, getting a job, we do use behavioral analytics and chatterbox, we’re attracting kids straight out of college to grads, four and five years out of college that haven’t haven’t found that career they’ve loved yet, you know, they’re bouncing around, they took the job making the most money, they’re trying to pay off student debt, they don’t love what they’re doing. We’ve got a great story to tell, but we haven’t told it very well as an industry. And I think there’s a lot of industries like that where hey, you can make an impact while you’re doing your work. You can, you know, when you close an SBA loan, you’re creating jobs in a local community. It’s economic impact, and it’s lucrative, you know, and you’ve got the freedom to work from wherever. So as we tell that story, yeah, it’s really compelling. And so now we’re building these pipelines of talented young people, but they don’t have any SBA experience. So they’re


Matt DeCoursey  20:50

committed to doing that, too. And that takes years. I mean, you’re talking about building a minor league farm system, you know, like that, you know, and that has to start early, we create, we had to create, we created a whole division or a whole department of University Relations, we use we, what we realized kind of accidentally was, I mentioned one in 42. Well, that’s people across a wide variety of experience sets. Now, we use the exact same assessment process for for someone applying for an internship as we do for someone with 20 years of experience, which, honestly, man is kind of mean. Because there’s only about one and 80 of the of the true entry level people make it through. But the base establishing these, these benchmarks and knowing what we’re looking for that those that want and 80, we want that we call them our Whiz Kids, and they are there. And so you know, we tried to identify that and, and here’s the thing is what we realized, and then why it took a couple years to build this as those those for those kinds of applicants, they often get introduced and fall in love with the company in the same way, like during an internship program. And if you don’t have that someone else is scooping up the best talent and never even heard about you never had a shot at it. So we had to create that we also created some fast track training programs and some scholarship things. And this is a long play. But and we’re finally now at the end of that pipeline. We’re about six months ago, a lot of these folks coming in, oh man they are they are really all star kind of talent, because they’re, like I said that one, and at that person is like a sponge. So we put them around experience people and it’s just like, wow,


Dustin Baker  22:34

well, and you give them resources to kind of accelerate their path toward proficiency. And that’s what’s it’s a heavy lift. And what we found is that every bank in our industry that wants to grow their loan program, they all know they need to do this, but none of them have kind of the few of them have the wherewithal to actually build it themselves. And so what we’ve done is build that we’re build this 52 week apprenticeship program, that’s, that’s really accelerating people’s path toward being good at the business. But then you select really talented young people into the program. Now all of a sudden, as a brand new graduate, I’ve got $18,000 of tuition investment from the company that’s hired me, well, that’s meaningful, that builds retention. But also, I’m not waiting for somebody to come off the line of underwriting loans to teach me something because they’re so busy, they can’t take them off the line, I’ve got a tool to be learning that. And something you can build that internally or you can leverage that that somebody else has built. But what we found is that there just aren’t apprenticeship programs like this for specialized industry, outside of companies like yours that have built it yourself and right, the best day to plant a tree is 60 years ago, the next best day is today. And so that’s like, we’re just looking for that forest of new people in this industry. And then in the future, you know, public relations and middle market franchising, and the industries that deal with this problem are the industries that are going to thrive in the next 20 years. And so we’re trying to create tools to do that. Well, it’s


Matt DeCoursey  24:06

all about figuring out what the problem that the other person needs to solve this and I can unpack this really quickly. So the end the the students need an internship to graduate, okay. They need access to internships now with that the schools that and in the Philippines, so in Cebu City, which is the second biggest city in the Philippines, that’s where our headquarters is. There’s 8000 computer science students if I get the top 3% Man I almost double the size of my company. Yeah. But with that there’s other people competing for that. There’s other stuff so we went and asked the schools you said what’s the biggest problem you need to solve miss it? Oh, my God was heartbreaking. I had a lady say because you know, math. Computer science is impossible. If you don’t have a computer, and we have students, we don’t have equipment, they have a budget problem. So with that, I look went back and looked at my company. Here we are. I mentioned five years old Hold, we have a dude, I have literally a shelf of laptops that had been decommissioned because I got a bunch of people that are at four years. And that’s the life of it. And so what we started doing was for all the schools that got someone that if they get someone into and they complete the internship program, we give them a free laptop. Now, as it solves their problem, and it’s also a fair kind of thing, and man, that word got out and oh god, we have the most popular internship program. And it’s in the central Philippines. And with that, though, we can take that program across the whole country but here’s the thing is like, you look at being able to solve the problems and do the school sit even believe us at first, we’re like, you didn’t give us a laptop. I’m like, yeah, and they still didn’t believe me. So I was in the Philippines. I literally went to the mall and the first five schools that were there, I just out of budget, everything I bought 15 laptops, I gave three to each school. I’m like, here’s just a welcome gift. This is a you know, I am we are serious. And they were just like, over the moon with it. But once they saw that, and you demonstrated the year, you’re not just in it for you. Yeah, yeah. And that’s an important thing. And so that’s the thing is you bring them in and then and then with the internships, it’s not internship is a very different experience. A lot of different companies, I worked at one company where you’re an intern, you’re lucky if you could even find enough shit to do every day. Because you’re getting coffee and making copies you don’t learn anything. We teach them actual real skills that obviously know how to code. But but here’s the thing is having a skill but not know how to solve a problem with it isn’t a very valuable skill. So we look at more tangible things. And like, here’s the reality is you are going to be a remote developer. Let’s get you ready for that.


Dustin Baker  26:48

Yeah, it’s interesting. One of our we’re in our beta right now. It’s a seven week program. And there’s a kid, he’s going to be a senior at the University of Kentucky, and I’m mentoring him through the beta. Right. And we’re on week three, I talked to him yesterday. And he’s like, Yeah, you know, I hear all the banter and all the acronyms of these people in the office, and they’re talking about stuff, right. And I’m scoring these loans and our minimum score to prove alone, a small loan is 175. Right, and this loan score to 174. And so but I realized that, you know, what I learned this week in the in the material is that there’s a couple of different programs for veterans, right? And this woman’s up, she’s a injured veteran. And so I sent an email to the credit officer, and he said, Oh, you’re right. And we saved this one, put it in a different program. And so now you’re giving him he’s working on something real, an actual loan application that came in kind of low level scoring, you know, thing that he’s doing, but then the information that you’ve given him, on the other hand, allows him to connect some dots, and that’s a win for him, he’s going to get that intern is going to get a commission on that loan, when it closes, because it doesn’t close. If he doesn’t catch that. So and then


Matt DeCoursey  27:59

the critical thinking, though, that’s critical thinking. And that’s the that’s a big thing for us that we try to, because especially when you’re young, especially, and you know, now let’s look at the Philippines and the culture there is actually a lot quieter, a lot more introverted. So like, you know, we tell everyone, immediately, we’re like, Okay, first off, you’re good at what you do, because you were able to even get a job here. Our clients want your input, they want your credit, your critical thinking, don’t get a plan, look at it, and think, Man, this is going to fall over after I build it. But they asked me to build it. So I should, that’s not doing a good job, like you mentioned, like, sit like it was okay, so most people aren’t good at critical thinking nine out of 10, people would have turned that 174 out of 175, they would next yesterday, so I just bought a farm. And I’m trying I have like $100,000 deck job and that goes with it. And I called the I call I was calling around and it’s a little bit out of Casey and I had a place that I mean immediately just called they’re like you’re not in our service area. I’m like your service area runs with up to a mile away from where I’m at. And the guys are not in the service area. I’m like, Alright, didn’t ask anything. I guarantee you that the owner of that company would be pissed if he knew that I deal one mile away that by the way, it’s probably worth like five or six average size contracts. You know what I’m saying? But that’s that lack of critical thinking can really be deadly for a business and especially in tech too, because like, uh, you know, there’s a lot to consider. Same thing with lungs. I feel like it’s very interesting thing there could be a different story there you know,


Dustin Baker  29:43

well, and digging and granted you know, $250,000 loan, there’s not a ton of profitability in it, but but you don’t know that you’re not going to get the second third and fourth loan that business is going to do and I think the issue too is like, you know, if I’m the owner of that company, and I have not chose Then the kind of people that have initiative or compensated them in such a way that it gives the guy the incentive to give a damn, whether you’re in the service area or not. So there’s a lot of things that can be going on there.


Matt DeCoursey  30:11

Jimmy, given any employee or anyone in general, like I’m, this is a, I have a lot of, I have a lot of a lot of commentary on this, but, you know, give it give people a vested interest. And that’s right, and, you know, and the whole thing and in, you’re gonna find, you have a lot more success because of it. Now.


Matt DeCoursey  30:39

Okay, so, now, there’s obviously a pretty wide range of, of, you know, there’s a ton of different stuff that, you know, you look at, like, I don’t even know how to begin to get into, like, how do you qualify someone to actually be able to say, Hey, this is someone I might want to place with a client.


Dustin Baker  31:03

You know, it’s, it’s a little easier in a specialized industry that you’ve worked in for a long time, you can, you can sort of triangulate really quick, where did that lead come from? You know, do I trust the person that it came from? And then I think, you know, when you’re talking to somebody about developing and coding, like, you know, real quick and can smoke out whether they’re giving you real information, or they’re just kind of talking and doing word salad at a high level about something


Matt DeCoursey  31:30

like we can give a task. It’s a lot. It has a very, it’s, there’s a yes or no component to that.


Dustin Baker  31:35

Yeah. And so you kind of know that, you know, if you know that space really well, it’s a different question when you’re hiring somebody with no experience for the industry that you’re hiring them to. And so we use behavioral analytics on the front end, you know, like you talked about earlier, we’ve dropped kind of that plumb line benchmark for certain roles that people might fill. And then we’re matchmaking based on that, I think there’s things in people’s background that we’re looking for, that would indicate a level of competitiveness, save for a sales job. And again, initiative, what kind of additional things that they’ve been involved in, throughout school? And then, you know, we don’t we don’t really look at resumes as much as we have kind of a five question esoteric questionnaire, and they’re gonna have to give us a response to some kind of weird questions, you know, about themselves, things that they’re proud of. And it’s just interesting, what flies off the page there, you just kind of see it almost always, when we read through those questionnaires, and then get into that first screening interview, the folks you’re excited about, based on what you saw, they are the folks that you’re excited about when you get off that call, too. So, you know, I think it’s gonna be different in every industry and in every kind of company. But some of the things you’ve talked about are really interesting, and that it’s just asking questions, listening really well, kind of understanding what works and then thinking through your own process in an unintentional way. So


Matt DeCoursey  33:02

well, there’s an you know, there’s a talk about one of the bad things when we’re just interviewing someone. Now keep in mind, like with doesn’t says, like, shatter box. And the same thing with Full Scale. A lot of people think, okay, like, finding placing job placement, and this kind of, it’s a two way street, you got to have, you got to have a service provider that’s excited about providing the service as well as a client that’s excited about receiving. Yeah, and if you get an either side of that gets wonky, it’s not gonna last long. And so we asked people, like, there’s a few things like, what do you like doing the most? In this profession? What do you like doing the least? And then what are you passionate about, and if you can say, the main thing, and a big driver of that high retention rate, for us is a high and heavy emphasis on getting people into long term roles where they’re doing things that they’re passionate about. Because if you do something, if you’re doing something that you’re passionate about, it makes it so much easier to get up and do it on the days where you’re not hyper motivated to do it. And you know, like, there’s really a lot to be said about that. Because, you know, once once again, when you’re doing it doesn’t feel as much like work.


Dustin Baker  34:18

Ya know, I couldn’t agree with that more. I think that it’s it’s tricky because there’s also there’s always actually the job that has to be done. And so you know, everybody can’t do stuff they’re passionate about all the time but you can be aware of what kind of scratches an itch for someone and put them on that task, you know, as much as possible. And I think to give people some freedom and choosing the work that they get to work on, we’ve got an employee who’s really passionate about reaching out to kind of underserved communities and it’s worked in philanthropy and kind of music industry a lot. And so, you know, one things we do is just provide a lot of free Room to kind of roam and be doing those things, even though it doesn’t have to do with the job like, look, you’re good enough, effective enough doing the work I give you, if you need some time to go put on a benefit concert in Nashville, which this person did a couple of months ago. Take those four days and go do that, you know, because that’s going to feed your soul. I want your soul fed. Because you’re just going to be more effective at everything. I need you. And


Matt DeCoursey  35:23

that’s the key, though. Yeah, that’s the key. And, you know, I mentioned to asking people like, what do you like doing the most? What do you like doing the least we also like looking at those notes too, because we don’t want to put you in a role. Yeah, we’re a big part of it. Now, here’s the thing. Wait, let’s go back to the very beginning of this episode. Talking about caring adults. As an adult, you accept the fact that sometimes not everything that you need to do in life is what you want to do or what you would like to do. But if you can minimize your exposure to some of that you will end up a happier person. Now think that’s a pretty fair statement, right? Yeah. You know, what else is a fair statement just that Dustin is reminding everyone that today’s episode Startup Hustle is powered by full And if you need help, hiring software engineers, testers and leaders Full Scale can help. We have the people in the platform to help you build and manage a team of experts. If you get a All you need to do is answer a few questions and let our platform match you up with fully vetted, highly experienced, software engineers, testers and leaders at Full Scale we specialize in building long term teams that work only for you go to full While you’re down in the shownotes looking for that link, go to shatter as well learn more about what Dustin’s doing. And once again, congrats on being on a top one of Startup Hustle top Tulsa startups is kind of a tongue twister, top Tulsa startups in 2023. Without it’s time for the founders freestyle and time for us to prepare our outro. So with that, Dustin, what would you what are we talking about today that really stood out? What do we forget to talk about? Is there anyone that you need to give a couple accolades to? I mean, what are you what are you thinking?


Dustin Baker  37:07

Yeah, you know, I just always come back to story. And I think, you know, there’s a there’s a big challenge if you’re trying to run a company grow company in this employment environment, especially if you don’t have the ability to go take your your operations offshore, or do something like you’ve done to look for talent in another place. And so man, I think if I can encourage folks to do one thing, it would be to think really intentionally about your story, your narrative, how you tell it, making sure that it’s consistent with what you’re delivering, when you bring people in. And, you know, most of us to be honest, we’re all busy doing the work that we’re understaffed to do. And so we don’t spend as much time kind of working on the business thinking about those things as we do working in the business. And, you know, we could, we could all probably afford to knock some of the rust off the story and make sure that we’re that we’re being authentic to kind of what we want to do and how we’re telling that story.


Matt DeCoursey  38:04

I think that you talked about talent wars, it know that it is a war, I think that a lot of people get that part wrong. It’s not about how many ping pong tables you have, it’s not about, I mean, it’s not about a lot of shit, it’s about it’s about providing an opportunity that people value and creating a culture in a workplace that people want to be around. Now without I will tell you, you have a 100% chance of not pleasing 100% of people once you’re at launch, your company gets bigger and a few people that’s out the window. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t overwhelmingly you know create a place that people take pride in working and you know, we spent a lot of time and effort at Full Scale doing a lot of things that kind of like Okay, right now we’re getting we do a contest every year we have, we didn’t do it during the pandemic but prior to that we had all these Full Scale banners just like a white like a vinyl banner with the green Full Scale letters. We do a contest where we let people pick take those out and imagine how beautiful the Philippines is right? They have mountains, they have jungles, they have coral reefs, beaches, and we do a contest where we want to see who is going to take the best picture with Full Scale banner and we had a group of employees that we have a mountaineering club and they dragged that banner to the top of the mountain and have it and there was like five of them up there and it’s just a beaut it was the debt it’s that didn’t the desktop of my computer forever but you get there you know, so with that we’re gonna have a contest around that and kind of create some internal fun and things like that. And you know, there’s a lot of really interesting ways that you can create interesting vibey stuff at your business and still get some some fun promo and collateral around it. I think another thing too is if you can’t as I mentioned as an entrepreneur, okay, why did I create I created this this farm system for For youthful talent in the Philippines, because it’s a long, long term is a much better and more affordable solution than just going out find a lot of people like, what does my company look like if I add 10 people a month to it, who are the smartest people out of a huge sample space of youthful talent, you got to balance that out. And you got to find people at all levels of it. Because as you mentioned, boomers are retiring. Well, there’s a 21 year old kid that’s looking for a job somewhere. So tomorrow’s tomorrow’s all stars, and getting them in line are important too.


Dustin Baker  40:35

I would add to that to the the other thing is, if you’re bringing only people in who are heavily experienced, you’re bringing the most expensive people in and they’re looking for an increase a whole lot harder for you to do that for them. If you bring somebody in that super bright spongy is going to just absorb really rapidly. And you’re bringing the men at a level that there’s a lot of room for them to grow. And by the time you’re paying them, you know, kind of market which a little bit you know exactly what you’re getting, because they’ve been with you that whole process. And so I think that’s critical that whatever it looks like to bring new, fresh faced young, motivated people into your company, you have to do that, or you’re going to really struggle to be successful. And so I mean, that’s the problem we’ve all got to solve. I mean, that’s why I think chatterbox is novel now, I don’t think it will be like, we’ve got to reinvent the apprenticeship in this economy and where we go, I think we’re in trouble.


Matt DeCoursey  41:33

Yeah, we definitely reinvented the apprenticeship our apprenticeship for us in the Philippines is unlike any other program out and we did that on purpose. And it like I said, You got to create these programs, not just for the sake of having them, create them wanting to create value. And because because here’s the thing is if you’re if you’re at these kinds of things, or whatever, if they’re hollow, they’re bullshit that words gonna get out to like, the best people aren’t afraid of the challenge. And in fact, the like, like, like the Whiz Kids that we hire, they hold their own, but they are on a different level, like because they take it really seriously, you don’t get that good. It’s one thing like, like, talent and genius are two very different things. Talent is being able to hit the target that everyone sees a genius hits the target, no one even knew is there. Yeah. And you know, and it’s and with that, like, also creating the culture like, okay, let’s be realistic, software developers are known for being a little odd. They’re a little weird, like, embrace it, like we have, like, when we used to do in person, interviews still, like, if we would joke, like, if that person shows up with a lightsaber, hire him right there. Like, you know, because like, it’s kind of, it’s like a nerdy culture, you know, like, and, you know, we never


Dustin Baker  42:52

got their, their cape on,


Matt DeCoursey  42:54

where, where if they, if their desk is big enough for their Legos, like hire them. Always need like, three days off, and you’re like, it’s not a holiday, they’re like, and it is for me, but it’ll be something weird. It’ll be like, three days to reflect the practices at Hogwarts academy or something hired to create a culture around that, you know, and like, there’s a lot of things that you can do that are that are still like, that are mechanical and boring that businesses need to do, but you can find a way to have a little more fun.


Dustin Baker  43:26

By the way, I think many, many of your future applicants are going to be coming in to into those zoom screening calls with different props than has been customary for you now that you’ve given up…for a while


Matt DeCoursey  43:40

Yeah, yeah, there’s a you know, I think some of that, too, is also you know, continually evolve your process as well. Like, you know, the, I think that and this will be the last thing I want to say on the way out, but if you are at a company or running a company, and you hear people saying things like this is always the way we’ve done it? That is like —if you starting, run, stop right there and just pick just do anything different. Because that is what dying companies say.


Dustin Baker  44:13

Yeah, I was gonna say that’s, that’s what you say when when you’re in some part of the death spiral process. Right? Those are the kinds of…


Matt DeCoursey  44:20

Yeah, we mentioned, we’re very Ricardo used to work in the in the music industry, but part of that was a specialization in pianos and keyboards, which are dead in a lot of ways but you know, and then I’d always work at some of these stores around the you get these old guys and it’d be like, Oh, if it was– I just wish things the way they were 10 years ago. I’m like, guy, it’s not a good way to live. So yeah, you know, push that envelope, don’t be afraid to– you know, I made a post on Facebook the other day and I said, you know, any big task is guaranteed to not have a perfect result when you get there, right? So with that, don’t be afraid to make mistakes along the way. journey because it’s gonna happen. You know, there’s no such thing as perfection just doesn’t really happen.


Dustin Baker  45:06

Because you don’t learn if you don’t screw up, you know?


Matt DeCoursey  45:09

Yeah, yeah, go for it. I’m gonna have fun with it. Dustin, thank you so much for joining me I’m gonna catch up with you down the road and congratulations to everyone at Shatterbox on making it on the list. You guys rock.


Dustin Baker  45:19

And I appreciate it and I’m grateful to get the time with you today, Matt, and we’ll catch up with you soon.