We talked to Michael Solomon of 10x Management on how the tech talent agency is linking talented engineers with ground-breaking companies.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Michael Solomon: Thanks for asking. We are very fortunate as life is mostly ok. My wife has been furloughed from both of her social work jobs, but we are holding our own none the less.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded 10x Management.
Michael Solomon: 10x Management was born from a simple premise: “Find the best contract tech talent and match them with the world’s most amazing companies.” That was the concept in 2011 when we adapted the talent agency from the music, entertainment, and sports industries by partnering up with a brilliant software engineer to create the world’s first tech talent agency. When news first broke about 10x, we were overwhelmed with literally thousands of applications from talented engineers and designers from around the world. It was then we knew we were on to something. Today 10x helps match the best contract tech talent with ground-breaking companies, with new talent and companies joining our community every day.
As an expansion, we have now launched 10x Ascend, where we help top tech talent negotiate (but not find) their full-time compensation packages.
How does 10x Management innovate?
Michael Solomon: We have always had the entrepreneurial spirit, and for me, that means seeing needs and opportunities wherever I look. It is with these eyes that we find our way to new opportunities. By way of a specific example, when we rent our freelance tech talent to companies, a few times per year, they fall in love and want to get married, which means that freelancer leaves our firm to join the company. Because the tech talent trusts us, they have asked us to help negotiate their deals. It was because of this practice that we saw the opportunity to offer this as a standalone service for anyone (as opposed to just our freelancer clients).
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Michael Solomon: The transition to remote was incredibly easy for us. While most of our team was housed in one office in NY, all of our infrastructures were cloud-based, and people worked remotely periodically. Long story short, those mechanics were easy. Other than needing to forward the office mail, we were ready to go on day one. The bigger challenge is taking care of our team and seeing that this is a profoundly stressful and isolating time. We have set up multiple additional non-work related touchpoints where we can come together as a team and make sure we are watching out for each other’s wellbeing (social, emotional, physical).
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Michael Solomon: Fortunately, we have not had to make the Faustian choices, so many others have had to. The one choice we would have loved to have considered, which would have been an interesting discussion, would have been to eliminate or substantially reduce our office space. Because we are in the middle of a long team lease, this was not really an option but will prove to be a discussion in a few years.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety, how do you project yourself and 10x Management in the future?
Michael Solomon: I am a meditator, which definitely helps, as does being highly organized. I am pretty hearty and stable at this point, so I am more worried about the team than I am myself.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Michael Solomon: Competitors in our world pop up in alarming numbers, but for the most part, they have missed our “secret sauce.” On the other hand, since we just released a book (Game Changer: How To Be 10x In The Talent Economy (HarperCollins 2020), which shares a lot of our “secret sauce,” we may find new competitors who are getting it more right soon enough. That is not an issue. We are in a huge market, and there should be room for many players.
Your final thoughts?
Michael Solomon: This is one of the hardest times of our lives, and we need to focus on taking care of each other. Work problems will be deeply compounded if our most important asset (our team) is falling apart.
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