Jason Barber started out in business the hard way, selling door-to-door; teaching him to be resilient to rejection. At the age of 19 he put his sales skills into practice, working for a leading automotive group in Michigan, USA, and became the number one sales rep in two months. He was quickly promoted to run the sales and financial operations for the entire group by the age of 23. From there he moved on to recruit for a medical staffing company, helping them grow from $2M to $75M in revenue. Jason is now the CEO of LionStack, a computer software company that leverages technology instead of human capital to execute on workflow automation. In this interview Jason talks about his inspiration for working in IT, the role AI plays in talent acquisition and the challenge of hiring 150 medical professionals in 90 days…
Please could you give us a brief summary of your career journey that led you to become the CEO of LionStack…
I started selling used cars when I was 19 in Michigan. I quickly became the top sales guy and was running two dealerships by the time I was 21. From 2009-2016 I was recruiting for the health sector, then I decided to become a self-employed contractor. I met Alex Rogachevsky on Quora, who invented a simpler way to program enterprise software, and then decided to start LionStack.
What’s the most important part of your role as CEO?
Patience and building a business for the long haul. Too many start-ups are entering a space to raise some capital to scale up and then get acquired. It sounds good in theory, however, why not just build a business to last that you can be proud of.
Tech recruiter, blogger, salesman, CEO… that’s a lot of roles and skills, which are your favourites?
Recruiting will always be a passion of mine. Finding talent is very rewarding and something I’m very good at. I don’t blog much, unless you count my 2000+ answers on Quora, and being CEO is very difficult work.
What inspired you to work in IT?
I’ve always been fascinated with IT ever since I was a kid messing around in the computer lab. Every non-IT job I’ve had, I was always asked to be the pseudo IT guy or liaison in my office. Traditional IT isn’t an inspiration of mine but cutting edge SaaS IT is – especially when you can create simple web apps that improve business automation.
Which project – business or pleasure – are you most proud of completing and why?
I once had to spec out every function of a surgery scheduling application and document the entire process. It was rigorous work for sure but after completing the documentation, I felt like I could accomplish anything!
What do you feel will be the top trending tech topic of 2024?
I think the big three will still be in play between AI, blockchain and autonomous transportation. The tech world is going crazy for blockchain right now because of the uncertainty with crypto-currencies. However, you also have a lot of big tech leaders out there claiming AI to be a game-changer in the next in the next 5-10 years, so we’ll see…
What are your thoughts on artificial intelligence and how it will affect people’s careers going forward?
Machine learning algorithms still can’t beat an experienced recruiter’s three-second-skim over the candidate’s current and most recent jobs, along with the companies they’ve worked for, and then have the context to know who to call and who not to call. ML / AI requires a gigantic server; a scientist to continuously tweak their algorithm and a customer support team to train the staff on the AI software!
Do you think being in the comfort zone at work is a good or bad thing?
Probably a bit of both: good in that you’ve found your rhythm to work and bad because it’s easy to become complacent.
What is your one piece of advice to a job seeker who is having trouble securing an interview, let alone a new job?
Go to a company’s LinkedIn page and website and find out who all the VPs are. Call and email each VP with a short summary of the problems you can solve for them; whether it be in sales, marketing, project management or engineering. Reach out to 100 of them and you may have a couple of job offers to choose from.
What’s your proudest working accomplishment?
I once had a deadline of hiring 150 people for a medical staffing project in 90 days. I sourced, recruited and hired 98 people in three weeks. I was interviewing 16-18 people a day. It was recruiting nirvana!
Finally, is there anything else you’d like to mention?