Hello, welcome to the Career Success podcast on Jason Connelly. If you are regular this that it’s great to have you back but if you knew welcome to the show in this series. Every week we speak to the biggest names in business all across the globe. We talk about their career stories, the lessons learned, how they overcome challenges, and what success habits they practice. Practical advice to help you in your career if you have a passion for business then this is the podcast for you.
In this episode I’m delighted to be joined by Zach Ballinger from Atlanta, Atlanta, Zach is a motivational speaker, podcast host, career consultant, and author of the Hot Seat. How to meet the challenge of and you era in job interviewing as well as all of that. Zach is also a TEDx speaker and he’s helped people find career direction. Zach teaches numerous career development topics from the stage. He brings a passion that is contagious and energy that’s undeniable and innovative. Ideas that work in today’s knew Complex World featured regularly at the University of Tennessee. Zach has. Also being featured by the Huffington Post, NBC, CBS Tri City Times, Morgan County News, Jane Jackson careers and several other key outlets. Zach, thanks for joining me Jason. Thank you so much for having me on your show. It’s a real pleasure. I’ve been excited to talk to you all day today, Zach. So we’ll delve straight in tell us about you and your career and kind of what’s got you to where you are today, ’cause you are all things career. Yeah, so a little bit about me is I’m a career consultant. I have my own podcast. It’s called this at Ballinger Show and the main vision of this at Ballinger Show is to shine a light on careers in North America. You know, Jason, I wrote my first book, The Hot seat, how to meet the challenge of a new error in job interview, and I began going around to colleges, non-profit organization, corporate organisations, speaking about job interviewing. But the common theme among people were really job interviewing questions.
The questions were more around Zach. I’m miserable. My job. I don’t like what I’m doing. I hate the nine to five. I hate working for my current company. How do I get out of it? And so this led me to really start this podcast is that Ballinger show is write a new book. How to be a zombie, how to find a career you love and so that is my career in essence is helping individuals find their purpose in their passion out in the workforce. Sounds like we have very similar shows just across the palms of the Atlanta exactly. It’s beautiful to meet a fellow podcaster, but also someone who has to save. Passion conveys yeah, you know, I, I think it is cool that we share that because you know, I just believe life is so short and I’ve seen so many instances in my life. You know the one thing I talk about is I volunteered at Saint Jude, which is a children’s cancer hospital in Memphis, TN. And walking through that really changes your life because it’s a life experience that a lot of kids didn’t get to live their full potential. And so we have one life. We have a limited about a time on Earth and it’s finite. You’re spending 1/3 of your life working in a job, and it drives me crazy when somebody’s plan is hey, I don’t like my job, but if I wait 20 years, then I can retire and I just I try to get people out of that mind-set that it’s OK not to like your job now. But what are we going to do to move the ball forward? ’cause when I was reading about you, Zach and I was reading on Amazon about the offer, he gave a really kind of telling insight where it said that you quickly grew miserable in your job and you began. Quest to find a career, but you then had your resume revamped. You were interviewing with loads of companies, but you never got past that interview phase. Tell us about that. You know that’s a good question. So when I got out of college, I wanted to do sales and you know, I finally got into it, but it took me about 250 job interviews with over 50 companies. 250. Yes Sir, now what perseverance to keep going? That’s an incredible story. Or Jason, you could look at it. I was really bad at job interviewing. Softball Zach I think they did have that tenacity to keep going. Tell us about this. It’s an interesting story. Yeah, so in the stage there’s an industry called pharmaceutical sales. It’s typically a pretty challenging industry to get into, so I got into college and I tried for a year to get into it. So I, you know, as I counted, it was about 250 job interviews with over 50 companies. An I said from that point Jason that I never wanted to go through that experience again in my whole life. I wanted to be the expert on job interview and so I set out on a quest to write a book and but you know, in sales I kind of grew tired of it and I didn’t like it anymore and it began to reflect in my personal life. And I was that. Why did you stop liking it? You know, Jason, I think what happens and I’ve talked to a lot of professionals overtime, our strengths and our weaknesses change as we get. Older and so the average millennial changes jobs in the United States every three years, and people think that’s a bad thing, but sometimes it’s a good thing because we’re realizing what our potential is. Yet realize. You know we might grow old and something, or we may not be that great. It you know, and so can I be honest with you. The reason I got into pharmaceutical sales once it because of a passion. It was because of the dollar signs. And so there’s nothing wrong with that. Zach oh sure. And it was great for awhile, but you know. And then what happens is why can’t you do both? Jason, that’s what I challenge people to do. Why can’t you earn a lot of money and love what you do? You don’t just have to earn a lot of money and hate your job. Let’s do both. Let’s love it and earn a lot of sounds like a great philosophy to have. I don’t. I do relate to you as well because and tell me if you know I’m stabbing in the dark here.
But I joined the recruitment industry, which ultimately is sales. It’s you know, sales of people which. You know there’s no more difficult commodity to try and sell, and I found to my when I started, my motivation was money, but mainly because I’d never had any and what I started to find was when I started to make my money in sales I I started to find that you know, actually, what really mattered to me. Now I’ve got to that stage was actually my success, was very much defined by happiness and fulfilment and being treated in the right way and feeling like, you know I was valued and. Loads of these other values I just didn’t feel that I had at the time, and it sounds like it. It did sound to me that you kind of referenced there a similar threads. Yeah, you know it wasn’t enjoyable anymore. And then on top of that I was diagnosed with mcnears disease when I was 12 years old and it actually began to get worse. And at one point Jason I woke up and I couldn’t hear anything. I was here in two freight trains, run it down the side of my ears. Long story short, I went to many doctors, been on many pills there bees. I’m actually half deaf right at this moment, but when I went to the doctor basically he told me to go sign up on disability and then I wouldn’t be able to work anymore and I did couldn’t accept that. So I went to many more doctors. Got second and third opinions and finally the last Doctor said is that how much stress you up in your life? Then I said, well, that’s a stupid question. Everybody’s got stress in their life, don’t they? I mean, and he’s like, but is it a fact that you’ve got high blood pressure? You’ve got anxiety, you’ve got depression now you’re having, now, it’s inflaming your ears and what’s happening is whatever is happening in your personal life, which I think is stress. It’s causing harm to your health, and so that was a wake up moment for me.
That Oh my gosh, what’s causing me distress? It was my job. So at that point I decided to go on this journey of passion and purpose and find exactly what I wanted to do with my life. Yeah, and this a similar thing happened to me exactly with the same backdrop, but I suffered from psychosis by pushing myself too much and I’m sure I’m on your podcast. I don’t know what stories you have necessarily had, but on mine the amount of people that I’ve talked to, who you would call successful but again. You know, I everyone look success differently has a different definition of exactly what they think it is, but the amount of people who get themselves to that place where they’re really unwell, and the impact stress can have. Physically, I still think is very much under estimated by people, and even now, and I think still a lot of companies are still yet to me. I think the conversations now flowing a bit more, but I think a lot of companies are still yet to wake up about this, but for you to, you know, be in that situation as well because. It must have been tough. Well, I think Jason you hit the nail on the head and in the United States and I’m not sure how it is an the UK, but like there’s a stigma, you know, as a male figure in the United States, you’re supposed to be tough and rough and you can’t have depression or anxiety or fear or any of these issues going on. And so you know, I think we really have to change the way we look at mental health in our in our country. Because, you know, if we don’t talk about it and me and you are not having this important conversation. People feel isolated, they’re like, well, I can’t talk about that. I can’t tell people I’m depressed or my gosh that I’m nervous and I I have panic attacks or whatever it might be right. And so you have to be tough. And that perception of what you have to be, we really need to shine a light more on, I believe shining the light, what we’re talking about that it’s OK to admit you’re having a trouble. It’s OK to say your stress. It’s OK that you’re going through that. Most people go through that, but let’s just not stay in that mode for our whole life. Yeah, I completely agree with you. I think we I think we’re very similar in a lot of ways. the US, the UK and I’ve been fortunate enough to spend a lot of time in the US, but I I think companies are waking up to it, but I think to myself, you know, would an employee of a company ring up an employer and say I’m not coming in today because I’m suffering from depression? Would they do that? Probably not, because if you one, I don’t think we’re at that one at that level of social acceptance yet. And two, I think someone would dress it up in a different way and. Having gone through psychosis myself and being you know I couldn’t be a bigger advocate of mental health. You know, in in every sense and that’s something I really tried to promote my company. I you know, I, I think people need to wake up to that now, but you know the pressures we all have and I think the world we live in with social media and positive endorsements and people kind of craving. All these all these different tools you know or design to kind of play on the human psyche. And I I think we live in a in a world where people are under immense pressure. You know, even when you leave the office now you know you’ve got the office with you. It’s just in your pocket. It resembles the format of an iPhone and I think if anything, companies need to really wake up to this. Because 20 years ago, you know, I, I think it. Yes, OK, the conversation was probably less intense social media, but I think depression is even more that people that you know all the different things that go on. I I’m not a big fan of social media analysis, LinkedIn, but I think this conversation is taking a really interesting turn. Zack but. I think it’s relevant and I think people need to talk about it more and that’s why I think it’s. I think it’s really great that we were having this conversation. I 100% agree. You know the Facebook Instagram life can be hard if you can’t separate that from reality. In other words, I tell people this when I go lecture. Is the Facebook people don’t post their rough cars. They don’t post an ugly house. They don’t post, you know, an unhappy child. You’re going to be the prettiest pictures you have the best looking angles. The newest fanciest cars and if you get caught up in that mind-set, it can have a toxic lead over not only on your life but also in your career world as well. We still say I think people feel so much pressure not just in their careers now because I think that everyone is we live in this society which you know yes people are posting about the nice cars, the bags and all these fancy things in the Holidays and whatever everyone I think there’s reason. Especially in the UK, why more and more and more and more people are feeling that pressure to go to University rather than to go down the vocational routes and trade routes because people feel that pressure from a very it might. This is just my mind-set. Yours might differ, but the way I kind of look at it is people are under so much pressure now to be successful and to look a certain way. We live in a very filtered SoC and all of this stuff is absolutely fuelling. You know mental health problems, but you know where did I think companies need to wake up to it. But I think in some ways I almost think maybe come some companies are ignorant to it because they don’t want to increase their sickness by endorsing it. Or maybe that’s just a really cynical side of me. You know, you hit on something that the blue collar worker is really undervalued in America. And you know I meet those kids. So when I lecture at high schools, you know a lot of times the parents want you to be a doctor or lawyer or a dentist. And so I met these kids that have an enormous pressure on them from the home life. But when you drill down to it, you start working with them, but they love working on a car. Well, cars can’t run without somebody working on the last time I remember, and so you know, maybe that person’s passion in life is being a mechanic and fixing things. And so you’re exactly right. We’ve kind of taken the pressure away from the, you know, on these white collar jobs and really taking our eye off the ball of water, people good at what are their strengths? What are their abilities? Let’s harvest those. Let’s work on those strengths and abilities and take him to the market. Place to take him into a prayer that they actually enjoy doing. Yeah, and I totally agree, and I think this leads really beautifully on to the hot seat your book. Now you can’t miss it, it’s. It’s got a cover that’s definitely going to grab attention, but it’s all about how to meet the challenge of a new era in job interviewing. So tell us first of all about what is the new era of job interviewing? How do you perceive? That changed when did the new area start? Or is the new era coming? Or is it constantly about to tell us about the era of jumping viewing? Where are we at Zach? Tell us it’s a great question. I wrote the book back in 2015 and it still applies today. Let’s look at job interview and how it’s changed. ’cause of the pandemic where most people job interview now virtual? And so, especially in the US, you’ve been doing this for years. We’ve only just recently, well, you know, someone said to me three years ago, what was zoom? I would have said it’s an ability to get zoom up on the page where when someone is not able to read the text. So it’s but you have been embracing this for years in the US. Well, we started to, you know, in 2015 it was kind of still a newer thing if you will, but you know it, but it’s gradually taking over the as a phone interview here in the United States. I mean, it’s pretty much the you know, hey, you need to. Put your camera on look your best, so that’s one way we’ve changed things as how are you going to interact digitally and another the way the error of job interviews changed on the old days? Think about your grandma and grandpa. They would go to a factory. You’d fill out application. What’s your age? Can you drive OK your higher? Do you make this? You work here for 35 years. You write, retire with a pension. You go off sun setting fishing, hiking, and live your dream, not how it happens nowadays, so. Nowadays there’s competition. You talked about a lot, the pressure of going to college. There’s college degree people graduate every year from different states, different cities, different counties. In the United States, lot more college degrees. Guess what? A lot more competition, a lot more people with experience. So now you’ve got, you know I can post one position that you got applicants, bam at the click of a link. And so you’re you’ve got this immense competition. And so how are you going to get your resume to the top of the pile? Well, that’s the first stage. This is kind of stage one. How do you stand out from the crowd? Yeah, that’s where your network comes in and so we talk about that in the hot seat is how to build your network. And before you know, a lot of people. The problem is they’re not kidding. Job interviews and the reason they’re not getting him. They’re sitting home when applying for jobs. jobs. 15 jobs today and they’ve done this for a year and they think that’s how you get a job. It’s just not in the United States. Only 15% of jobs or are filled. They apply online without a contact 15% so it’s incredible that that statistic that’s. That kind of is quite staggering. Yeah, so you know. So if we know 85% of them are from a network contact then we have to be doing that and so that’s where you mentioned, like Den. That’s it. It’s a great vehicle to do that and so you know that’s where the really the book applies to today. If somebody is trying to get at least a job interview or how to ace their job interview with the company. Yeah, it’s working. It’s really interesting to hear your perspective because I would say that I am an expert Zach when it comes to all things recruitment, all things. Hiring all things, interviewing. And I could talk to you about this for many hours so someone is ’cause I’ve got my own beliefs and perceptions, but this isn’t about me. Zach, this is about you. Someone is a young person, they’ve gone off. They’ve done this. How do they? In your mind and obviously unpacking part of the book, how do you start to create this network? Because from a standing start you know a lot of people are going to think about how do I do this? How do I start meeting people? Yeah, and so that’s why I wrote my new book during the pandemic. Don’t be a zombie. How to find your career your love? Because I give you 25 action items to do today. And So what we do is we walk you through. If you’re a student. If you’re a professional, if you’re a millennial, even if you’re retired. And we start building that. But let’s say you ask specifically about it. A younger person like it maybe in high school or college with you to build your network well. Number one look around you. Everyone’s of potential network. So for example when I was trying to get into pharmaceutical sales, my mom’s neighbours Son worked in Pharmaceuticals and so guess what? I set up some time to talk to him about his career. Learn more about the industry found touch points so I didn’t just have one call with Ben and say, OK. Well, thanks for your help. You know, see you in the next life, I said, hey Ben, do you mind under three months that I follow back up with you? I may have some more questions about the processor company and I took an interest in his development. It wasn’t just all about me, me, me, me, it was. Hey Ben, what are you looking to do? What some of your goals? What have you done and you know, Jason, I was talking the other day to a college student. I was helping them for free, you know. And he reached out to me. I gave him some of my time. We were talking about his job interview coming up and how to network. And at the end of it, he doesn’t know me from Adam. Remember, and he’s a college student. He says now, is there anything I can do for you and think about what that does to the relationship he says? Is there anything? And I said, actually, yeah, there is. I’m I have this new podcast. I’d love to you for you to get the word out about this at Ballinger show. So he posted on all of his social media light meet links showed me it asked me for my home address and sent me a handwritten thank, you know, you know what it is you hit on a valuable point there, and I think the lesson I take from that kind of anecdote in that story. Is one of people offering value and this is something that I say to people a lot when they go for job interviews. It’s about the value that people can add it to. Thinking a value mind-set. You know? What can you do other than just going to an interview and saying that you’re going to be great for the job? What value can you add to the job? What value can you add to the company and this young individual who you know made such a kind gesture to you? Yeah, a lot of people don’t think to do that. It doesn’t always seem commonplace for people. Oh, you might. You know you might get someone who you know looks up to you and maybe things, but maybe they can’t offer anything if everyone has a skill set of a talent or a value or something about them and it’s, you know, I, I think it’s you know, I think you make a really valid point there. Yeah, just by asking that question, Jason is your pure intent and so maybe I don’t have anything for the student. Maybe I say, actually, you know what, I’m OK right now, but who knows, things may change. What if I write another book? What if I have another show? What if I’m speaking in town? Whatever it may be, you’re just at like you said, companies don’t hire you to just set around debris there. They want you to bring like what you said value. So what can you do for their organization to improve profit and its success of the organization? And so if you do little things like that when you’re networking, think how it stands out. Now I’ve had Jason some people reach out to me and said, hey, can you get me a job at IBM? Now I don’t know this person from Adam, and sometimes that’s what people equate networking to. That’s not the right way to start the relationship. No, it’s all about depositing and withdrawing, and that’s when I get messages like that as well. And, well, it’s. It’s not cute human courtesy. Is it coast rating? I wanted to ask you a questions that because when I was reading through the contents of the book, it did make me smile because it’s not. I wouldn’t say this is a book that sugar-coats things, it’s quite direct to the point. And I like that Zach, I like that when I was reading through some of the chaps, there’s some of the phases, even the tables of content. I’ll just name a few here and they did make me smile. ’cause my approach that is. Whether being you know direct up front and to the point. But we’ve got, you know, one of the segments here, Page 61, take a chill pill, bring proof, a bad reference, prepared good questions, not stupid ones. Drunk pictures on Facebook, though. I guess that’s a segment that’s been added in the last decade. Existed previously, but he eats it when I read it. It made me smile because I think you’ve kind of constructed this together in a way that you know. I think it really gets the message across the people, but my kind of question to you. I guess it is 2 questions really. One is how is this all from your own research or is this all from your own experiences? And Secondly, what made you kind of when I read through the contents? As I said, it did make me smile, but how did you kind of come up with these different? Very punchy into the point segments. Yeah, so you know, I think we all have to have a little bit of humour in life, and so I tried to bring a little bit of humour. Career development is often see does perception is a boring thing, and so you know, I do speak bluntly of a Southern accent. And so you know I am different in that way. And so, like some of the things I think we have to have not take ourselves so serious. You know, when I meet candidates, it’s just like let’s relax a little bit. Calm down, you know. Everything should be OK. We know you’re serious, so you gotta bring a little humour to it. When you when you do it too as well so you can get people’s interest in that group development is can be very exciting if you make it exciting and your number two question you know. I actually started talking to hiring managers. You know, that’s how the book was really formed. I started interviewing previous hire managers. I interviewed other hire managers, that new hire managers, so I. Use that networking that I’m talking about so I said hey, I know you know Nicole, she was a manager and she recommended me talk to you ’cause you’ve got 25 years of management experience. You mind if I ask you some questions, what do you look for in a candidate? What’s your top five questions you asked for? What’s top five things that candidates do wrong? And so I begin putting these common themes in play. And then I also of course corporate my own research of stories. The lot of those stories are humiliating stories. But guess what? Jason there, my humiliating stories. Yes, so also like again, bringing some fun to it right? And so you know I can talk about how I messed up. I could talk about when I went in and had a big booger on my face and interview. You know, when I, you know I talk about that kind of stuff and so you know, if you’re incorporating my expertise but as well as taking hiring managers expertise and incorporating that book, and that’s where the research comes from, right? And I think you kind of beautifully articulated it. With your new book, this is all kind of aimed at who wins it out where. Where do people find it? So the best way you could have brought it is on Amazon under. Don’t be a zombie. How to find a career love or you can go to my website zachbalanceor.com and my links are right there to my social media pages where you can find the book and it is pretty easy to find, especially ’cause zombie theme seems to be pretty popular in the states because of all the series and the movies. So it’s not that hard to find. And I kind of asking. I know that you know this is probably such a generic question, Zach, and there’s probably a million different ways to answer this, and I don’t want to take away from multi tab. The book is. It’s obviously a difficult time at the moment, and yes, we’re kind of coming out of the worst of this awful time. It’s been the pandemic and it’s not been easy for people, but you know, I, I want to focus this on young people because I think young people right now really need a helping hand, especially with. You know, I’ve read reports at this and I’ve seen it first hand this. There’s not as many graduate opportunities out there, but kind of. We’ve talked about network and we’ve kind of covered that off to some extent, but what other advice would you perhaps give to a young person today to ensure they are job market ready and they’re able? ’cause obviously graduate roles I know, for instance, when someone applies for graduate legal role, there could be hundreds, literally hundreds of applications. What would you say to people to make? Sure that they’re able to really stand out and get to that all important interview. Yeah, there’s so many different things, but let’s just focus in on young college students. Since we bring that up. So I’ll give you a couple of real quick number one. Get into those career service centres on campus. Engage them early as a freshman if you’re out there listening to this, I say that over and over, and I’m like a broken record with it. But the thing about it is Jason. Those people are trained in career coaching and they know what they’re doing. They resume, right? And think about it. If employers are coming to a college campus and they have job opportunities that they want to hire, students, were what building do they go to on campus? The Career Service centre and eat. So if college students start engaging in that process early, start finding an excuse to go there every four months. Five months. Start networking with them. Guess what those in that network’s going to do. They’re going to say you know what Jason’s a really good guy he’s been working with me since he’s been a freshman. We’ve updated his resume, he’s really motivated. He’s excited about engineering. And so I think he would be a great asset. I would recommend him first out to any other candidate you know that you may see on campus. Bam, right? There’s one way you can do it another way for students get out in your community to start volunteering. Like you said before, Jason were starting to come out of the pandemic. What I found when I volunteer my community in Atlanta, Atlanta, GA. There’s a lot of need out there. People need help. We’ve been through a tough time and guess who is out there helping people generally. It’s professionals, it’s white collar people. It’s blue collar people. You start networking with those you show your pure intent that you care about people you care bout non-profit organisations. Guess what they’re going to do in return. You can use that as a part of your networking and so I’ve seen so many people propel their success just by going out in the community, helping it out where there’s a need. Networking with those professionals, and then hanging on them to take them to the next opportunity, which is the job interview. I think that’s really good advice. I think it’s about utilising app. Absolutely everything you’ve got around you, and I think you’re you know your book it, it’s great. I think it really, really kind of covers off every single angle. And you know, I wish you all the best of people again. If people do want to find it, it’s called the hot seat. It’s on Amazon. It’s even available on prime.
You could have it the next day in your palm is ready to help you for that all important job interview, but. Zach, thank you so much for joining me on this show. And again, if people want to go to where can they go to find out about you and connect with you? Yeah, go to zachballengerzackballenger.com and all my links. Social media links. Are there come and hang out with me? We do a lot of post saying all free content. We would love to have you, Jason. This opportunity is been wonderful. I could literally talk about it for 8 hours because I’m so passionate about the subject, but I know we both have a finite time on Earth or so. We can’t spend, you know. 50 hours talking about job. Zack, oh, you’re very welcome. I could spend an absolute long time talking to you too, especially when it’s a topic with both so passionate about. But that was Zack Ballinger from Atlanta, Atlanta, GA. I’m Jason Connolly. This is the Career Success podcast until next time goodbye.