When he graduated from college, Edward Gorbis thought his school wasn't prestigious enough to land a job at a top tech startup. He credits his immigrant parents' work ethic as the reason that he had the traits that employers liked, and his personal network led to his role at WeWork. Today's conversation talks about research roles in different industries, how to communicate your skills to employers, and unexpected career moves.
Editor's Note: We provide a transcript of each episode to make it easy to search and read. Since robots are not ready to take over the world yet, the artificial intelligence isn't perfect. There may be some typos in the automated transcript.
Edward Gorbis: [00:00:00] I think oftentimes we look at other people and compare ourselves and value what our peers think. And for me, I had a lot of friends from my lens who went to a "better school". So I oftentimes truthfully compare myself to others and never thought my pedigree was good enough. I think I might've sent a couple of hundred, if not a thousand applications in to what felt like a black box at the time.
Vincent Phamvan: [00:00:31] From Vyten Career Coaching. It's How I Got Here. A show about business leaders, their resilience, and the stories behind their career moves.
Vincent Phamvan: [00:00:40] I'm Vincent Phamvan and I've interviewed thousands of job candidates over the years in both recruiting and as a former corporate executive. Now I'm on a mission to help you take the next step in your career.
A corporate job opening attracts an average of 250 resumes and just one person is going to get hired. It wasn't all that long ago that I was nervous and frustrated by my job search, but it doesn't have to be this way. You can navigate your career with confidence, spend everyday learning, and drive to better yourself.
You can be excited about the future.
And on today's show, we're meeting up with one of my good friends who I've known for over 10 years now, Edward Gorbis, he's the senior director of key accounts and channel partnerships at WeWork. The company WeWork was started by Adam Neumann and Miguel McKelvey. Newman came to New York City in 2001 fresh off his service with the Israeli military with no background in real estate.
They started a real estate business called Green Desk, which offered sustainable coworking spaces with recycled furniture, fair trade coffee, and green office supplies. Customers who they called "members" could rent a desk or a private office month-to-month. They made money charging more for the spaces than their lease payments.
For smaller companies, it took away the hassle of having to worry about furnishing offices, conference rooms, high-speed internet, utilities, printing, putting food in the kitchen, all the things that weren't related to those businesses, those members, actual businesses. What isn't as well known is that WeWork also partners with large enterprises, and that's where Edward's team comes in.
Edward grew up in the Bay Area. His parents' house was 20 minutes south of San Francisco. Growing up near the San Francisco airport, he thought his career would be in aerospace engineering, which is what he went to school for. Although as the son of two immigrants, he didn't spend all of his time in the U.S.
Edward Gorbis: [00:02:43] They shaped me in probably every way possible. And like you and I have discussed in the past, coming from immigrant families is definitely a unique upbringing, but I really owe my parents everything. I was born in Ukraine really at the tail end of the Soviet Union. My parents made this bold decision to initially immigrate to Israel for a few years, and then we immigrated again to the U.S. when I was about five years old.
It's a bit unfathomable to me, and they're like the classic, "we had $200 in our wallet, a few suitcases, little knowledge of English, and a young child" immigrant story. But they still had the fortitude and the discipline to drive and to help me to achieve all my successes. I really can't imagine struggling the way they did.
For me, I never had to worry about standing in line for food like they did in Ukraine, and my parents afforded me an opportunity to build a future for myself.
Vincent Phamvan: [00:03:45] We're living in really strange times right now. Sometimes this pandemic feels like we're living in a movie or a dream where I'm just waiting to wake up.
I asked Edward where he's looking forward to traveling to after the stay at home orders are lifted.
Edward Gorbis: [00:04:01] For me, it's pretty easy though, Tel Aviv: the most vibrant and beautiful city in the world, and at least in my opinion, that is. I actually lived in Israel when I was much younger and I've been back a few times, so.
Israel feels a little bit of like home to me. And if I was to go back and the first thing I'd grab as a shawarma, it's by far my favorite food and has everything you need packaged in one place.
Vincent Phamvan: [00:04:27] And in the job market. A lot of what we're facing right now, what the class of 2020 is facing right now, feels a little bit like deja vu.
I graduated college in 2009, months after the 2008 financial crisis, companies were canceling internships, resending job offers, much like they are today. One giant company after another went bust or was bailed out by the government at the last minute. Edward, a similar experience a few years later.
Edward Gorbis: [00:04:59] The difference between somebody entering the job market today versus when we were, roughly 10 years ago, is that there's a lot more information and valuable data out there to make more informed decisions. And we may or may not have had them, but it's one thing that I would urge anybody entering the workforce today to be mindful of and utilize with what's in front of you and make the best decisions for you based on the information that you have.
Vincent Phamvan: [00:05:26] What's one thing that you wish you would've known though early on in your career?
Edward Gorbis: [00:05:31] I guess I really wish I had somebody to tell me how to pick an industry or pick a career trajectory that's aligned with the current market conditions. I graduated back in 201 and the economy was just picking back up.
And living in the Bay Area, I didn't grasp that the tech jobs were a hot ticket item, nor understand the financial boom that was about to start and understanding of the market conditions would have really helped me understand what the market values.
It's something that I would encourage even young individuals today to be mindful of what's happening in front of us, rather than align with the most common careers that often immigrant parents kind of push us into, which is, you mentioned, a lawyer, an engineer, or a doctor.
Which are absolutely noble careers, but it's important to understand that what are all the job opportunities and where my career will end up 10 years from now if I look at the broader perspective of today's world.
Vincent Phamvan: [00:06:40] You know, when I was going through college, I went to UCLA communications study major and I thought I was going to be a TV news reporter. That's why I went to school. I had a mentor in high school and the outlook of that career, now, if I look back on the decisions that I've made.
Yeah, and I just looked up as you were talking, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics has a tool that's free it's called the Occupational Outlook Handbook, and it's got nearly every single job in there, but one of the things that it also has is the job outlook for the next 10 years, for the next decade.
So I just quickly in there typed in broadcast news, a reporter. So the job outlook for journalists, which is the job that I thought I wanted to go into, even all the way through college, 2018 to 2028 there's a 10% decline. And those are the things that I didn't look at in college, and I didn't know to even look for that stuff.
But man, it makes a heck of a difference if you're out job hunting and there's 10% less of that job available as you're going out trying to apply for that job.
Edward Gorbis: [00:07:50] Exactly. And that to me is leverage that fundamentally did not exist back then for us. The reality is there's really no straight line to succeeding in a job search and especially or early in your career.
I think I might've sent a couple of hundred, if not a thousand applications into what felt like a black box at the time. And as for networking only gonna and encourage people to think about how and where they network.
It's important to be intentional with the people we spend time with and networking consistently can easily be a time suck, or it can become a powerful tool to alleviate some of the blockers in anyone's job search.
Vincent Phamvan: [00:08:29] I totally agree with that, and I think traditionally you're taught that networking happens at networking events, that you have to go to these things, get, you know, wear the right professional gear meet the right people. And I think what's been incredible throughout my life. As I look back is some of my strongest relationships were really the relationships that were just right there in front of me.
Whether it was somebody that I had met through a student organization on campus, whether it was a friend of a friend or, you know, there's even times now where there's folks that I went to college with and we just kind of occasionally keep in touch on Instagram.
But if there's ever any time that we have to help each other out or get each other's backs, you know, that's a really easy connection to rekindle.
Edward Gorbis: [00:09:19] Certainly. And as you mentioned, Instagram, there's, there's so many different mediums today for people to stay connected. You never know who you might meet. Funnily enough, 10, 12 years ago when you and I connected.
How your paths might cross in the future. So, it's always important to certainly put on a good impression when you're first meeting somebody, but more so to maintain those relationships over time.
Vincent Phamvan: [00:09:44] Tell me about a mistake. You know, throughout your career you've interviewed others, hired others, you've searched for jobs yourself. What are the common mistakes that you've seen others make or that you've made in a job search?
Edward Gorbis: [00:09:56] As we both know, the career search and the job search is pretty daunting, and the common mistake that I see people making is simply giving up.
For me, determination and persistence were always the key factors that differentiate the people who will and won't succeed. It's black and white for me.
But I think it's okay to change their strategy in a job search, but giving up is not a strategy, and I think it's important to be crystal clear with your goal and we stay persistent towards it as you look for a career job.
Vincent Phamvan: [00:10:32] And that resonates a lot with me. I have a friend, his name is Aaron Orndorff, and he was the previous editor in chief at Shopify Plus. Shopify is a massive startup that powers the eCommerce infrastructure for over a million different online businesses, and he's got a motto that I absolutely love, which is, "Let's Get Rejected."
And what I love about his "Let's Get Rejected" kind of mantra is it sets the expectation that you're not going to hear back at every single company that you apply at, except the expectation that you shouldn't be disappointed if you don't hear back after sending in an application or a resume somewhere because it only takes one.
You talked about earlier in this podcast, applying for what seemed like hundreds of different roles or what could have been literally hundreds of applications, and yet here you are because it only takes one to be able to be successful in the job search.
Edward Gorbis: [00:11:38] Exactly, and it boils down to one attitude. The Shopify example is perfect. I am almost going to steal or borrow that tagline, but for me it was the same approach where I knew the majority of these applications most likely wouldn't go anywhere or lead to a conversation.
But we all need that one first job and a one first connection with somebody, and as long as we stay persistent and determined to getting that one introduction and that one job, you'll do just fine.
Vincent Phamvan: [00:12:12] And it really, if you have the expectation of "Let's Get Rejected", you really have nothing to lose when you go for that moonshot. When you go for that incredible job that you really want, you got nothing to lose. Because the worst that can happen is you sat out and it happens exactly like you expected, which is "Let's Get Rejected."
But, you know, they have the saying that "You miss 100% of the shots that you don't take." And so, you know, had he not have reached out to Shopify or had you not reached out to WeWork, neither of you would have the opportunity to work with these really fast-growing tech companies.
Tell me about the behind the scenes of your job search.
I think oftentimes people see what it looks like on the surface after you update your new job on your LinkedIn profile, but really what went on behind the scenes that led to that last step.
Edward Gorbis: [00:13:16] Yeah. I paused there because that moment in time when I was looking for a job prior to entering WeWork with certainly not seen.
Those are often the moments that are overlooked in time when you scan somebody's LinkedIn or somebody's resume, you know. Like during that period of time, I'll share a story where you, I really had to essentially dig into my treasure chest of relationships. Um, I connected with somebody who I am still friends with to this day.
Uh, he and I had met at a SAAS company that was based out of Boston back in 2016, you know, I continue to maintain our relationship. We've talked time and time again, and when he was out in San Francisco, we'd connect.
He now lives in New York. I spent some time out there back in the middle of 2018 and, funny enough, I was actually at a blockchain conference.
I was fascinated with blockchain and cryptocurrency was going through a spiral at the time, and we decided to connect over drinks and really rekindle our conversations around business and when he's working on what I'm interested in, we just started talking again that moment he started telling me about his new job he had just started out WeWork.
He's a Product Manager and still with the company to this day, and he was telling me, "okay, man, you should come work for WeWork". I said, eh, there's not much to do there for me. It's just the coworking business. Not really interested in transitioning out of tech.
That moment, he, despite not being a true salesperson, gave me the "high, low pitch", which is, look, SoftBank just poured in $4 billion worth of funding into the company to build out the enterprise team and help it scale globally. And that just sparked a thought in my mind cause how many companies in the world received that much funding.
And WeWork at that time, essentially became the "Tiffany's of hypergrowth". Right? And I was quickly intrigued by all of his thoughts around what the company can do and has been doing and all these teams that are being built out.
He introduced me to a few people at the company. Three months later I joined the company.
And from there I just kept growing and building more relationships, which has helped me evolve my career even within, WeWork. But again, to me, it just boils down to maintaining a lot of those quality relationships and knowing that they may lead to something great from a job perspective or they just might lead to a great friendship.
Vincent Phamvan: [00:15:55] And what I love about that story is it's different than how most job seekers early in their career think that people get jobs. Because the way that people think that people get jobs is: you have an interest in working for we work, you go to their website, you find their career section, you find a job you're interested in, and then you submit your resume, and that just isn't the case.
A stat that I find fascinating all the time is that 60% of jobs are found through networking. Not by looking online at those job listing sites, 60% of jobs are found through networking and oftentimes in what's called the "Hidden Job Market". Jobs that sometimes aren't even advertised or posted online.
Edward Gorbis: [00:16:39] Networking is an ongoing event. It's important for individuals to realize we're constantly meeting people. We are constantly making impressions on others. And the identity that we build, whether it's externally or internally within the company, ultimately determines your opportunities that are provided to you.
[00:17:00] Once a company evolves or changes or you, you choose to make your next move.
Vincent Phamvan: [00:17:06] What do you think is a common myth about getting a job at a company like WeWork?
Edward Gorbis: [00:17:12] A lot of myths and I think it's a little bit unique when we talked about, WeWork, but in general a common myth is that you need this incredible pedigree on paper to get you in the door.
All you need is a strong work ethic, discipline, and be a critical thinker. The pedigree part is often the byproduct of those three traits, at least from my lens, I'd say WeWork is very much a startup that's going through teenage years and transitioning now to, let's call it adulthood, and we often search for determined individuals who demonstrate those very traits.
So the myth is, look, we need this beautiful pedigree to get you in the door. That might be part of it, but if he had the work ethic and the discipline, it'll get you that pedigree naturally.
Vincent Phamvan: [00:18:02] Did you think that you had that pedigree earlier in your career?
Edward Gorbis: [00:18:06] I did not. I think oftentimes we look at other people and compare ourselves and value what our peers think.
And for me, I had a lot of friends, including even yourself, who from my lens or went to a "better school". So I oftentimes, truthfully compare myself to others and never thought my pedigree was good enough.
But what I've learned is when I ask people why they ultimately chose me over other candidates, or potentially better pedigrees, and, trying to be humble. Say it was just my work ethic. I will look at a task and I will figure out the best way to go from A to Z.
Vincent Phamvan: [00:18:56] It's funny to hear you say that and what I mean by that, because this is a conversation that you and I haven't had, is that I felt the same way. Even as you were looking at the people around us, and I was also looking at the people around us, and I think so many times it's so easy to fall into that trap.
It's that social media trap, right? Which is further exacerbated by LinkedIn and professional networks where it just becomes easy to compare yourself on the surface to other people. Yeah.
Something you might not know is I didn't get into UCLA the first time that I applied because in high school I just didn't work as hard and I had horrible grades and had no chance of even getting into a university like that.
You know, I was a second-round pick that ended up going to a junior college and transferring in. But you know what's funny is when you look at a resume, that's the type of stuff that just doesn't show up.
And so it's hard to actually know who a person is, but it's also, I think what's important to recognize is that every single successful person, likely, actually feels the same way: not qualified. They're just an ordinary person and they're just trying to make it.
Edward Gorbis: [00:20:16] Exactly, and I'm curious what your thoughts are, but as we get older, hopefully. Oh, let's figure out what we are and who we are in the world and what impact we're having and you become a little bit more comfortable in your skin.
Do you feel like you've reached that point, and if I may just ask, do you find comfort in what you've accomplished?
Vincent Phamvan: [00:20:42] I think I'm growing every single day and I think my definition of accomplished has shifted. Because, yeah, there's that classic question of "Where do you want to be in five years from now?" or "Where do you see yourself in five years from now?"
I think earlier in my career that would have been described as a title, or a promotion, or a company, or, you know, that like mythical six-figure salary, right? That aspirational six-figure salary that you think about it in college, where now I think I prioritize success.
More in my level of happiness, which all of the research shows that there's just not a strong correlation or a correlation doesn't even exist between your household income and your level of happiness. And I think events like Anthony Bourdain's unfortunate passing have had an impact on me too, because he was traveling the world, eating the most incredible food in every country that he went to, and for all intents and purposes, he should have had the perfect life.
If he couldn't find happiness. I think that is proof that happiness doesn't come by chasing money and fame.
Edward Gorbis: [00:22:05] Absolutely a sad and unfortunate event, but it's more about the lesson that comes out of it for me.
And for those who do know me, I, I love electronic dance music or better known as EDM. And like watching the passing of Avicii a few years ago was also really disheartening and shocking because this was an individual who was beloved by so many people all over the world. He had a massive impact through his music.
And he touched the lives of so many people and he took his own life and seemingly at everything. And I think I wanted to understand why.
Fortunately, Netflix made a documentary on his life story. And there's a lot of good insight on how he thought, what he thought about what his struggles were.
And it just boils down to money doesn't buy happiness, fame doesn't buy happiness, it's finding pride in your craft or your work, and that's what made him happy the most, which was just making music. Just figure out what you just like to do and do that as much as you can without the fame, without the money.
Those two things might be a byproduct, but I think between Anthony Bourdain or Avicii. They certainly are two good reminders that it's important to figure out what makes you happy and like what brings you consistent joy in life.
Vincent Phamvan: [00:23:32] And I think taking that as a lesson and combining that with trying not to compare yourself to others because the reality of it is when you're looking at others on Instagram, everybody's putting out their best self.
What they're not showing, unfortunately, are the struggles and the hard times behind that and where they are working on trying to become a better person. And everybody's got those. And especially in a job search where it can be easy to feel overwhelmed, it can be easy to feel like it's going to last forever.
Networking can feel awkward, but that's almost how every single person who approaches a job search feels, but it's just not often discussed.
Vincent Phamvan: Now, going back to WeWork, what's one thing that's unique or that you didn't expect about working in tech in general or at a company like WeWork?
Edward Gorbis: [00:24:30] For me, it's been the notion of community, which is arguably the secret sauce at WeWork. Many companies preach culture and what culture means to them. To me, community is the output of a great culture.
So every day we get to see what it feels like for community of people across varying industries, verticals, backgrounds, company sizes, demographics, social status, all of that, and come together at a WeWork all over the world and I think it's just humbling to witness. And I believe this is what really has made WeWork unique.
Vincent Phamvan: [00:25:06] And there's something to be said about the work environment that you're in and whether that's something that drains you or inspires you to go build or grow the next venture that makes a difference in the world.
Now you've been at WeWork for a bit. If you were talking to somebody, if you had met somebody either at a networking event or, you know, even just out and about and they found out that you were working at WeWork and they were interested in either a career there or a career in sales. What advice would you give to somebody looking to go either into WeWork or into sales?
Edward Gorbis: [00:25:42] It's a funny question because again, my career itself has not been linear. So what brought me to, WeWork brought me into sales might be different for many other people, and I've swung from engineering all the way to sales now. And having said that, if you're interested in the real estate industry, which is the core of WeWork now, like I'd urge a strong finance or obviously a business background.
But as it comes to sales, there's many pathways to get there, and ultimately boils down to, are you interested in continuing relationships? And there's plenty of people who categorize themselves as an introvert or an extrovert. I don't think those are actually relevant.
There's people who just value getting to know people. And I think that's what makes people in sales incredibly powerful. You certainly need the technical skill sets, the acumen to have these important conversations to complete a sale. But if you care about relationships, you care about connecting with people that's ultimately what will help you get into sales.
Vincent Phamvan: [00:26:52] And I think when you look at other jobs, like a dentist, you can imagine what the day in the life of a dentist is like. For sales, that's a little bit different.
What does an average day, or an average week, if there is one, look like?
Edward Gorbis: [00:27:07] For me, it just boils down to understanding what problem does a client have and what solution can I provide them based on what my company is building. It boils down to those fundamental building blocks.
How you shape your day and week can vary. It boils down to understanding what are the short term needs for your client versus the long term.
Vincent Phamvan: [00:27:31] And as we wrap up our time on this episode. Two last questions for you. What are the best resources that have helped you along the way in your career, and where can our listeners connect with you online?
Edward Gorbis: [00:27:44] Sure. For me, it's, it's been about reading a lot more. Uh, I think I neglected reading books right after college shows, exhausted from studying, but in the last few years, and really bury myself in different business books. [00:28:00] So there's three, I'd actually recommend, the first one's called Multipliers by Liz Wiseman.
The second one's called Reboot by Jerry Colonna. And one of my favorite ones, especially for individuals interested in sales, is Never Split the Difference by Chris Voss. So again, reading. Is an imperative part of learning and one that I continuously recommend for others and for those interesting in connecting.
I always would say LinkedIn is a good place to connect with me and I do my best to respond to people as long as people craft a relatively thoughtful message. I've even hired a few folks who have cold messaged me on LinkedIn, and relationships are everything to me, so I'm always open to building new ones.
Vincent Phamvan: [00:28:51] Hey, awesome. Thanks so much. Multipliers, Reboot and Never Split the Difference. I'll throw a link to those books in the show notes for this episode. Never Split the Difference is a really great book. I would echo that one. By a gentleman named Chris Voss, who was an FBI hostage negotiator and some of the skills that he teaches.
They're actually really great in a job search negotiation when it gets time to negotiating your compensation package.
Edward, thanks so much for joining us today. It's been great having you on the show.
Vincent Phamvan: [00:29:24] Thank you so much for listening to the show this week. If this podcast was helpful to you, the best thing that you can do to support is please consider rating and reviewing this show on Apple Podcasts. This helps us help more people just like you move towards the life that they desire. Visit our Podcasts on Apple Podcasts.
Then score to the bottom. Tap the rate with five stars and just leave a sentence or two about what you loved most about this episode. You can subscribe wherever you listen to your podcasts, or you can write at firstname.lastname@example.org. I'm Vincent Phamvan and you've been listening to How I Got Here. This podcast is brought to you by Vyten Career Coaching.
Multipliers by Liz Wiseman - Bookshop (Supporting Small Business), Amazon
Reboot by Jerry Colonna - Bookshop (Supporting Small Business), Amazon
Never Split the Difference by Chris Voss & Tahl Raz - Bookshop (Supporting Small Business), Amazon
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