In Conversation with Cody Alimondi of 3 Embers

Today we’re going to sit down with Cody Almondi. He is the owner of 3 Embers. He does a little bit of everything, but we’re really going to do a deep dive into what Cody does as a business psychologist, what he does with 3 Embers, and his approach to business.

For those of us who aren’t as familiar with what you do, your background is in recruiting, correct?

Yeah, I spent the better half of a decade working for two recruiting firms.

One of them I was with for about seven years, and the other one I was with for about four years.

So, in layman’s, you kind of help people find jobs, right?

Yeah. I mean, the simplest way organizations would hire the firm to fill contracts or contract-to-hire types of positions.

On the rare occasion, I did permanent placement, but it was more of that realm. And I really specialized in building, like, big teams of contractors or sometimes consultants.

Before I left my last firm, a big project was like a 30-person project, and they were redesigning a mobile application. And so that takes a variety of different skill sets, and they’re kind of on a separate project than, like, the day-to-day operations that have to keep rocking.

That was a lot of fun because I was responsible for finding the talent, onboarding them, getting the teams built, and all that. They’re almost like a subcomponent of the organization. So that was really where my specialty lay.

Why did you decide to start your own business?

So, it’s interesting because I think some people have this deep desire to be an entrepreneur, and that just never was a deep desire of mine or something. I think I always wanted to work with people, not for people. Then I got to a point in my career where I wanted to do something a little bit differently.

I did actually have a firm that allowed me to test my theory or the thing I wanted to do differently internally. But at that time, I lacked the chops, and I lacked the skills and the abilities to really do it. That didn’t work out. So then I went to grad school, and I filled a void. And then after grad school, I got to a point where I felt like I should probably figure this out on my own. I feel like it was like one of those things where if I want to create this the way I envision it, that I have to take the leap of faith.

So it was more not by design, but by where my passion and interests lied. I felt like I had to pave my own path in the beginning, and then maybe down the line, I work under a company or with a company, or I get purchased, whatever the case may be.

But in the beginning, it just didn’t make any other sense. So it was more out of what I wanted to do, required me to take that path versus it being like this deep desire to be an entrepreneur, because there are those people. Those people are awesome and they’re great, and I’m very jealous because that’s what they want to do. But I just didn’t fall into that category. It was more about what I wanted to do. I needed to do it my own way first, because if I don’t take a leap of faith in myself, why would another company pay for me to do it?

So, you talk about the fact that you didn’t really feel called to be an entrepreneur. It was more like there was this huge problem that you saw working in this day to day, and you had to go pursue that. You had to do it differently. Can you explain a little bit more about why you so needed to leave to go pursue that?

I knew there was a problem, but I didn’t have an answer. I felt like the problem was it was a very transactional industry, staffing and recruitment, and I didn’t really understand why. I felt like it should be more of a relationship-based industry, but the relationships were more built on getting the business. It wasn’t really as much built on understanding how an individual could fit into a role that would enhance their life.

I make the analogy of if we have fiduciary. Financial advisors have to do what’s in your best interest. Right. But we don’t have fiduciary recruiters.

And I’m not saying recruiters don’t act in a fiduciary manner. I’m sure some do. But the gist of the nature is that you get paid by closing deals. And so if you don’t close a deal, you don’t get paid. And after a while, if you don’t close enough deals, then all of a sudden, you don’t have a job.

So it doesn’t really motivate recruiters to naturally be fiduciary. I think even if they want to and they start off with that intent, I don’t think it’s easy for them to sustain that based on the reward system. And so I was like, this doesn’t seem right, but I get why it’s built this way.

And I was like, well. What’s a better way? I don’t have an answer for that because I think it’s weird to charge an individual money to help them find a job because they don’t have an income. It didn’t sit right with me. So it’s like if you’re not charging the individual and you’re charging the organization, but you have fiduciary responsibilities, individual, it didn’t really make sense to me. And so that was my initial problem, that it’s way too transactional. And I felt like there was no responsibility for the recruiter to do what’s in the best interest of the individual. I feel like they kind of always had to side with the organization because that’s where they were getting paid from.

I felt like this individual, the candidate, the applicant, whoever it is, was always on this island by themselves, and I didn’t want that. I don’t want them to be an island by themselves. I felt that a good job or a good work opportunity could change someone’s life for the better. It could be such an enhancement to somebody’s life and opportunity.

You think about someone who’s like, in a miserable job. I guess I have, like, an anecdote. I was working with the lady, and her resume wasn’t obvious, and I was like, you know what? Come in. Let’s meet, let’s talk. And I got to know her more, and I was like, oh, you were actually perfect for this job.

And the hiring manager was like, I don’t see on the resume, but I’m like, I pushed it down. They hired her, and that job got her to a point, and she knew it was a contract. So once that project ended, after that, it allowed her to land her dream job that was kind of like that missing step she needed.

And she wrote me, like, the sweetest email and the sweetest note, and I was like, that’s kind of when I had this AHA moment. That’s where the special sauce is.

That is where I think what’s missing in the industry, because I think there are a ton of good people in recruiting, in staffing, in talent acquisition, in HR. But I think people don’t have an opportunity to do the best they can because of the way the systems are set up, the rewards, expectations, and then I don’t know if we’ll get to this, but really, the foundation of what traditional HR is built off of just doesn’t align with where we’ve been in the last really ten years, with work and stuff of that nature.

What do you personally look for when you are outsourcing projects or hiring?

I like to break it down in the first part of just the work opportunity. Let’s take out people and let’s just break down the work opportunity to the most essential elements. Like I was hiring an editor. Well, what you find out is that there’s a lot of different types of editors, right, and there’s different levels to it.

And so then I was like, okay, well, I need an editor that does this so that’s X kind of editor. I was like, all right, like the bare essentials. Do they need a degree? Probably not, right. Do they need experience with exactly what I’m writing about? Probably not really.

But the things that they needed for my perspective is they needed to have experience in that type of editing. But if it was for sports writing or fiction or nonfiction, I didn’t think that really mattered. So I got the work opportunity in its simplest form. I created a job posting for it and I posted on EFA, which is like editors freelance association.

But my goal was for you to look at this posting. I limited to like 500 characters or something like that. I wanted to be as simple as possible. It’s either a hell yes or a hell no. That was my objective for the work opportunity. I want you to look at it and be like, that sounds miserable, or that sounds amazing because it’s like gray area that I wanted to avoid.

Once I get the work opportunity, then I get more my personal preference of the people I like to work with. Because it’s like food, everyone has taste. And it’s like I have a taste of someone who likes to play for the love of the game. And then I like paying those people a premium, right?

Usually, they don’t charge a premium because they’re like, I just want to do this. I love this. I want to do this all the time. And so my personal preference is someone who loves what they do, right? And you can figure that out in a variety of different ways.

Second is my personal preference is someone who doesn’t think that there’s one right way to do something. I like an open thinker or creative to solve problems because I think the context and situation kind of provide a little color to a situation. And I like individuals who use that versus feel like crippled by it or restricted.

I personally try to pay as premium as I can afford. I don’t try to nickel and dime. I think that the places to save money is not with people. I really don’t. I think you can overpay, but I’d much rather overpay than underpay.

I found that that comes to help you back out in tenfold. And if you get screwed over by somebody, in the long term, you’re going to benefit, right? Because you’ll learn those mistakes and you’ll figure out the signals and the signs, and then you just don’t work with that person again. But long term, you’re going to develop way better relationships. You’re going to get awesome work, and it’s going to be a lot more fun once you get that kind of antidote taken out of it.

That’s the way I do it. So I believe that hiring is never easy, but we can be simple, right? And we get simple by eliminating the things that really don’t matter.And I think we’ve talked about this for a good work opportunity there’s really three things. There’s levels of autonomy.

There is I call it like fair exchange, right, which goes with pay and expectation, all that stuff. And then self direction where it’s like I’m not micromanaging them, right? So I give them full creative autonomy in the scope of what I’m looking for. I don’t micromanage them, I let them kind of self direct the project and then fair exchangers, like I pay them as fair as I possibly can afford, right?

And I think if you work in those pillars, you’re going to find something most times that works because the opposite side of that is like nickel and diming people micromanaging and then routine or no autonomy over the work. That’s not fun for anybody. For the people I want to work with, maybe some people like the routine of work but the people I’m trying to hire is like the best talent that is suffocated in organizations.

So they went independent and I think that that’s getting larger as we speak just because of the opportunities with so many different software’s and applications and work opportunities that more freelance work is possible and it’s easy to set up an LLC and stuff of that nature.

I think that’s something that you and I have spoken extensively about as well. Just the level of talent that is available through independent contractors and freelancers and people that you might overlook because they’re not necessarily under the umbrella of a larger company with that kind of brand recognition.

But the value that you’re going to get out of those workers is in general so much better for especially small and mid-sized businesses. So I think that’s a really great point to bring up.

Yeah, I totally agree.

The last question I wanted to ask is how do you define success? What does success mean to you?

So I think success changes with my season of life. I think prior to kids success meant something different. Now with kids, success means something different. And then when my kids probably reach a certain age, it’ll probably mean something different as well.

It’s like I define work as a transfer of energy towards something. And so if I’m working with my profession of being a business psychologist or focusing on talent and personnel and work of that nature, then success in that nature is directing thoughtful energy to helping individuals find meaningful work and then helping organizations think differently about talent. So if I do that with one person or one organization, then that’s kind of success. And then that comes in different shapes and colors. And then in my personal life, success is like always putting one of my daughters to bed.

If there’s seven days a week and I do it five out of seven, because sometimes they just want mom and I get it. So always being available to put my kids to bed, that’s really important to me.

Being there, having energy with them when they’re awake, I try to take a break, like 2:30-3:00 and stop my professional work or anything of that nature. So I have good energy to be with them. If I was just spending time with them but I didn’t have good energy, when I say energy, like, can I run with them? Can I play with them? Can I throw them in the air or do whatever they want to do? Am I present because I’m not exhausted or tired or fatigued? That’s successful to me. Am I a good father by having the same energy I put towards my work to them, my professional work to my family or my family work.

Then personal success to me is taking serious my physical, spiritual and then cognitive abilities. Am I doing something that plants seeds in those arenas consistently? I just set simple rules though, right? For me, success in a week is I don’t go more than two days in a row without working out, reading or writing. To me, that’s successful. Then it’s like, okay, that’s every other day or some days. Some weeks you have better than other weeks. So I give success kind of like room to breathe in certain sense. Because certain weeks I’m going to be way more successful as a father than as a professional. Other weeks I might be more successful as a professional than as a father. But if I consistently, from a personal standpoint, can hold myself to these rules,

I just made them up, obviously for myself, then hopefully those will keep me kind of consistent across the board. But that’s just because I have young daughters right now. So it’s like once they get older, then maybe success is a little bit different. And I don’t know what that is because they’re not older yet.

And then as my business matures, success will be like, can my wife retire? And we don’t need two incomes. That’ll probably work its way into my professional success sooner than later. It’s got to be something that provides for my family and gives my wife the freedom or my family and my wife the freedom that owning your own business really should do. Because if you’re going to get all the stress of owning your own business, well, then you should have all of the benefits of it as well.

It’s a focus. Just not one that if I have a quarter that’s down from a financial perspective, but I produce really good stuff and I’m getting closer to what I envision, I’m not going to deem that as an unsuccessful quarter, but next year, absolutely.

I think that’s all really great. I mean, obviously everybody has their own idea of what success is, but I think that the idea that it can be ever changing and evolving is really important, especially as an entrepreneur. I think sometimes we get stuck in these rigid rules of like, oh, I want to hit this amount of money, I want to have this amount of clients. But to give yourself, like you’re saying that breathing room, I think that’s a really great way to look at it.

Well, thank you so much. I totally agree. I think putting that pressure on hitting certain metrics or numbers, I’ve noticed that with social media that hitting a certain number of followers or likes or posts, I just think that’s like unnecessary stress. I just don’t think that’s where stress should be focused now. Once you get to a certain point, maybe that is where stress should be focused, but in the beginning or constantly, I just don’t know if that makes the most sense for everybody.

Real quick, let’s shout you out before we wrap this up. If people want to learn more about what you do, where can we go find more?

3emberstalent.com is the website, that is the best place to see what I’m up to!

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