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Acknowledging Multiple Pathways to Success with Byron Slosar

In this podcast, Hive’s CEO & Founder, Byron Slosar, shares his personal journey and career insights, shedding light on the importance of building an inclusive workforce that supports diverse backgrounds.

“You don’t have to know everything to be the best at something and I say that applies to my job as a CEO, but also to my job as a first-time dad.”

Listen to the episode here. Scroll to read the full transcript.

Podcast Transcript:

Simone Morris:

Welcome to the Power of Owning Your Career podcast. I’m your host, Simone Morris, and I have a passion for empowering others to take responsibility for their careers. Yes, I’ve written several books on owning your career and am loving hosting this podcast. This podcast is for you if you’re willing to make a shift to the driver’s seat in your career. We feature leaders who inspire, empower, and motivate you for consistent career action. For results, please continue to join us every Sunday when a new episode is released. Let’s get into this week’s show.

 

Simone Morris:

Welcome to the Power of Owning Your Career podcast. Today I’m excited to have with us on the show Byron Sloser, who is the founder of Hello Hive, a career development and recruiting platform that connects students and entry-level candidates with companies that prioritize DEI. Oh audience, I love this. You know I do DEI work for a living. So I’m excited to talk to Byron today, but his work has a goal really to build a more inclusive entry-level workforce that will grow into senior roles. Byron Slosar, Brian, Byron, forgive me, I’m going to get better as we talk. Previously spent 15 years in career development and recruiting working with thousands of students over his career. Byron, welcome to the show. 

 

Byron Slosar:

Thank you for having me. I’m excited to visit with you a little bit today. 

 

Simone Morris:

Me too. You’re talking my language when you talk about inclusion. I’m passionate about inclusive leadership. So tell me how you got interested in the space of really creating more inclusive opportunities for students and organizations.

 

Byron Slosar:

I think it’s the word of the day might be very unintentional until recently, but I spent about 15 years in a traditional career role that was completely entered by accident. And so everything that we do at the company and just in my life, I would like to be a person 1st. And so maybe 2 seconds on my background will help kind of understand how I’ve ended up here. But I am, you know, part of the LGBT community that is my identity.  What powers me into my role, into the workforce is that I am a, you know, gay Southern Jew that went to Catholic school my entire life. They grew up in Baton Rouge, LA, and have five siblings, and I’m #4 out of 6 in my family. And that’s the worst positioning ever. 

 

Simone Morris:

You’re #4?

 

Byron Slosar:

Four out of 6. Lower middle, lower middle. I mean, that’s not exciting, right? But I say that in the context of when I look at kind of what I do for a living, my career and career started because I just, I think reverse professionalized a personal interest of wanting to have kids. The only thing that I’ve ever known in my lifetime is that I wanted to have kids. I didn’t know that I could, right? I came out of 27. I met my husband in 2009 when marriage wasn’t even legal. And so I kind of reverse engineered this thing where I got to work with thousands of college kids and having no experience when I jumped into space, I think has made it pretty relevant to how we can humanize, I think traditionally pretty stale and archaic recruitment process and make it more about people meeting each other and getting to know each other as human beings. And that’s kind of how we’ve ended up here. And so, you know, a lifetime of learning helped me understand much later in life, at 42, what I wanted to be when I grew up.

 

Simone Morris:

Let’s rewind a little bit more. What did you want to be initially when you were growing up? 

 

Byron Slosar:

A dad. 

 

Simone Morris:

Okay.

 

Byron Slosar:

So  I’m a sociology major running a tech company. There was not a lot of my college experience wasn’t wonderful because I just wasn’t comfortable with who I was. But also, I just had no lens on what careers were.  And so I focused on really what I knew. And I knew that I had an awesome family and amazing father and that’s what I wanted to do.   And that really has been a huge focus of mine, even in my current seat. And also, you know, a huge pain point that I’m sure we’ll talk about a little bit, but that’s what I grew up wanting to be.

 

Simone Morris:

I love that, you know. 

 

Byron Slosar:

So now I’ve got a six year old and you know, I did the thing. But I was ironically someone now in charge of what, 30,000 plus student and recent grads careers.  I wasn’t interested in careers and I didn’t really didn’t know what they were.   

 

Simone Morris:

I want to take that in because, you know, sometimes there’s psychological safety or concerns about stating your truth. And you know, like, no, but what else did you want to do? You know? And so I want to just let that resonate. You wanted to be a dad and how powerful that is. So talk about navigating that. You talked about, did you say 15 years that you did, you know, work? Maybe talk about what that experience was like for you. And navigating that with that in your mind, you wanted to be a dad. What was your experience navigating work for the 1st 15 years like?

 

Byron Slosar:

I mean, it was a job, not a career. You know, It became a career when I realized we can do things differently and that the way people were doing the thing if they only continue doing the thing the way that they’ve always done. It was really disadvantaging a lot of people across all different backgrounds and experiences.   But you know, as I looked at this, my husband’s a very successful real estate broker. Prior to COVID, if you would have said, you know, where are you going to be in five years? I was going to be at home raising my son.   But I saw a moment in time that was interesting. And so now we’re in a very different place. But it’s been a lot of, a lot of change. And I’ve learned that like I just, I answer questions very simply now. So I mean that it was not hard for me to answer. That’s what I wanted to be because I think one of my few organic qualities as a CEO is I’m massively self-aware. And the first almost 30 years of my life were spent way too much about caring what people thought about me. That now I just, I’d rather you know everything within 5 minutes and continue a conversation with me or dip out. I don’t want to waste time anymore. I don’t want people to not know who I am.  

 

Simone Morris:

I love that. Embracing your identity, So talk about how embracing your identity has served you in your career.

 

Byron Slosar:

I mean, I just learned how to do that, you know? And so I think for a long time when we think about, like, what prevented me from even knowing what careers were, I didn’t have the mindset in college to think about anything other than what the hell am I going to do with my life? Because I’m in Louisiana and I know that I’m gay, but I can’t tell anybody that, right? I didn’t have the space to open that conversation. By the time I, I got stuck in New York the weekend that Hurricane Katrina hit, I was 27 years old. I was still in the closet. Only getting stuck in a city that I had never really experienced and seeing that there was a world outside of where I had been. Did I know that there was a life outside of Louisiana? So I think, yeah, it was from a career lens knowing who I am has helped me build this company. Not knowing who I was helps me understand why we built this company.

 

Simone Morris:

Powerful. Powerful. So let’s jump right to it. What do you say is the what are the key ingredients to successfully owning your career? 

 

Byron Slosar:

I don’t know that I fully owned my career just yet. But I think what I’m really good at is acknowledging that there are many different pathways to achieve success. This success can be defined very differently. But as an entrepreneur, I didn’t go to Business School, I never studied finance. My way here was very different and a little bit abnormal. And so my perspective on it is, is a little bit different as well.  When I look at just the success we’re creating, the ability for me to own something, you know, my career, my work-life balance, whatever it is, I’m still learning a lot. And so I’m not the guy who wanted to do this their entire life, who has now found success and who is sitting, you know, very confidently in the seat. I’m probably the opposite. I am a first-time CEO and founder. I’m doing my best, but I’m also very aware that like, I’m probably not the best person to sit in this seat, but I’m good for now and it’s a lot to take in. So I think when I look at owning my career, it’s also figuring out this work-life balance thing that is not a real thing where I figured it out. But I think that I’m going to own my career when I can figure that piece out of how can I be as present at work as I am at home or vice versa. And it’s not like living, breathing anxiety of my life every day.  

 

Simone Morris:

I completely understand. I have an 8-year-old, so I completely understand navigating the space as a CEO and I’ve heard the term not work-life balance, but work-life integration. You know, that seems to be more applicable to me.

So yeah, this show is about being in the driver’s seat for your career, intentionality towards your career outcomes, and not sitting in the passenger seat and allowing other people to navigate your career. With those definitions in mind, can you share an experience of being in the passenger seat as well as being in the driver’s seat for your career?

 

Byron Slosar:

Yeah. I mean, I think in the driver’s seat, I drive pretty well with intuition, right? So there are certain things that I am very good at. And I’ll make an analogy to my son. My son, like we were talking to his teachers, we were working on him having the confidence in the classroom that he has on the playground, right? And so, like he and I both. And while we also share a name, his name’s Byron. The things that I’m really good at, I can drive without thinking.

 That also makes me a very uncomfortable passenger sometimes when I should be. I can process information very quickly. My experience in space allows me to make very informed decisions that aren’t always data-driven and drives my head of marketing crazy. But it makes me a very difficult discerner, right? It makes me very impatient when I have to, like over explain things or prove them when I just know they’re right. But it’s a healthy balance of like I would say a lot of my success is actually being not a passive passenger but an active observer to the point where I know that it’s the right decision to make or the right direction to drive. And sometimes you can’t always be behind the wheel to watch the side of the road, if that makes sense. 

 

Simone Morris:

Yeah. I’ve had people tell me they’re you know, outside pushing the car. So we’ve had a variety of answers from guests. So, thinking about what we’ve been talking about and your career, and body of work, what’s the title that would encapsulate your lessons, your learnings? Something that speaks to maybe some advice on your career?   

 

Byron Slosar:

Ask me the question again. 

 

Simone Morris:

Yeah, I threw a lot in there. Said another way, if you were to write a book and you gave the book title based on your career body of work, what would the title be?

 

Byron Slosar:

That is a phenomenal question. You don’t have to know everything to be the best at something and I say that is applicable to my job as a CEO but also to my job as a first-time dad. You can overknow something which makes it I think a little less impactful and how you do it.

 

Simone Morris:

Well, you don’t know till you know. Especially with the parenting, there is a whole lot to learn. So no matter what people tell you, it’s not the same until you get into the role. That was my experience. 

 

Byron Slosar:

I’ll take that advice from you. I’ve decided as a dad, I will no longer take advice from people who don’t have kids. 

 

Simone Morris:

Even the people that have kids have a lot of advice that yeah, you, you chart your own course. That’s what I would say as a parent. You discover, explore, and find your way. 

 

Byron Slosar:

Mm hmm. You have to. It’s like, you know, it’s necessary. I spent so much time prior to having Byron thinking I was so busy and so important. He is the only thing that matters.

 

Simone Morris:

It’s very humbling. Yeah. I do love being a mom. Yes. So let’s talk about risk and and some of the risks that you’ve taken in your career. Share some of your insights from, you know, calculating risk or how you see risk, how important it is for navigating your career. 

 

Byron Slosar:

Yeah, I think that acknowledging risk is important. It’s going to exist every day of your life. And if you try to avoid it and not just accept it as a living, breathing thing, that is often going to create anxiety and chaos and turmoil. But you know, I live in New York. Walking across the street is risky, right? I mean, so I think like, it’s just like there are lots of things like, you know, I talked before the show started. I am highly, you know, ADHD and OCD. That’s something that’s just part of my life, right? And it is my job to figure out how to make it a positive and powerful thing rather than be scared. And so I think like with risk and anxiety, I kind of approached it that way too. Right now everything that I do is risky. You know, I’m in a hyper-growth stage startup, right? I can make the wrong decision tomorrow about where we’re spending or not hiring the right person, but it’s just going to be a constant, ever-flowing thing that if I’m aware of it, I can deal with it but not push it aside.

 

Simone Morris:

How do you learn to deal with your uniqueness? You disclose several things during the interview and there are some listeners who struggle with whether it’s being out sexual orientation or, you know, navigating the workplace, given identity, how to see it, how to frame it as a positive and to successfully show up and be parts of the conversation or successfully advocate for yourself. How do you learn to appreciate your differences and be able to use that as a lever in navigating your career?  

 

Byron Slosar:

I mean it took me a long time. I think when I look at whether it’s who I am as a person or you know, all of our students thinking about self-identity rather than check boxes, thinking about sharing who we are rather than disclosing who we are, right? I think first about like why is it relevant and why is it important and then it’s easier for me. I think getting back to kind of what I said earlier, I’m such a massively insecure person and that’s never going to change ever.  But I’ve made a decision that because of that I’m going to have everyone know exactly who I am and everything about me within the 1st 3 minutes of meeting me because like a bad GPA, I can’t convince, you know some of our clients that GPA doesn’t matter, right? But what I do is I make sure that if there’s a GPA requirement, candidates that don’t have that GPA can never apply because I don’t want them wasting time.  

 

Simone Morris:

Why is there a GPA? I digress, but you know like what does that matter

 

Byron Slosar:

You know it depends, but I think it’s a thing that a lot of people pay attention to because people always have have. But when I think about kind of the way that I introduced myself at the beginning of this, like, I want to make sure that people see the value of my experience beyond my identity.  And that just makes me feel a little less tokenized, right? It helps me understand where my value is so that I can talk about the good stuff of why I matter to you, which for me is a massively insecure person who my love language is words of affirmation. If I can figure out why I’m relevant to you and why you appreciate me, that makes me feel really good. 

 

Simone Morris:

Powerful. Yeah, I got caught up with that. You know it’s kind of like having a degree to to be an administrative assistant. You know some of the requirements out there and then I hear GPA and I know people it’s out there at 4.0 or whatever it is. But does that really apply when you start to do the work? I don’t know. 

 

Byron Slosar:

No. For me, I mean I’m not, you know, this isn’t like self-deprecating. I’m traditionally not a very smart person academically. What did that do for me in college? I had to work so hard to have a good GPA that I missed out on everything. But we’re in a world where I think we are seeing a massive shift. And not just like GPA requirements, but also whether or not formal education is something that is going to be required to be successful in a position. Right. And so I think we are seeing lots of growth in those kinds of predefined areas. But I think, you know, it’s a good kind of comparison to how I look at you knowing everything else about me too.  

 

Simone Morris:

A question for you, what resources have you found to be helpful in leveling up your skill set in your career?   

 

Byron Slosar:

My husband. 

 

Simone Morris:

Yeah. Same.   

 

Byron Slosar:

I don’t like to read. When I have free time I like to watch really bad TV. And I’ve had to learn so much in this seat over the past five years that I, honestly, it might be the worst answer ever and you know you’ll wonder why you’re interviewing me. But I don’t want to learn anything new anymore right. I’m exhausted. So when I need that perspective, I go to him, right? He is in a very different industry but he has such good advice and he knows me as a person and he helps me. Like there have been difficult times. There have been dark times in building any company but that’s all I need. And I think that’s like you can overdo something. I was finding myself exhausted but I had wonderful mentors, still do. But there’s so many of them. And like, I just like, you know, with my ADHD was like, what do I need? Who can I ask? And it was just preventing me from actually doing the thing, which is being present at work. So now I just pivot to him and he usually has a good answer for me. And most of the time, you know, he’s making some decisions that I should have made a long time ago. And then he reminds me that he was right the first time. 

 

Simone Morris:

As you know, now I’m thinking your episode could be titled Find Your Person.  

 

Byron Slosar:

Well, for me it’s two. It’s Matt and Byron. 

 

Simone Morris:

So, find your two. Find the two people. Okay. Find your two. Awesome. Okay. So, do you have any additional advice that you would share with our listeners in terms of being successful in navigating and owning your career?  

 

Byron Slosar:

Yeah, I mean, I think that you know, that was a great question about the book earlier, but you don’t need to know everything. You just need to know that it exists as a thing.  I am so fulfilled now and it’s in a role that I never knew even existed six years ago. And so we get so focused, I know that you’re a coach on like what’s the five-year plan? What’s the 10-year plan? But you look at like just how the world is changing every year and a half right now and why the hell would I build a 5-year plan when the world’s going to change 13 times backward in that five years? And so for me, what I tell my kid, my college kids, my early career job seekers, right, it’s about Step 2, not Step 7, right? When I was young, there was a thing called a choose your own adventure book, which is how I live my life. You read through and you get to an inflection point. And at that inflection point, it says, if you want to see this character do this, go to page 17. If you want to see this character, go do this. Go to page 34 and you get to make that decision. But it’s a very linear decision at that point in time. The book always ends up the same, right? So with life, we’re all gonna end up in the same place. And so we can still get there by making some very unique and different decisions. But I think it’s just a matter of taking it one step at a time.  

 

Simone Morris:

I love that. Byron, it has been great to have you on the show. Can you tell our listeners how they can reach you? If they’d like to do so.

 

Byron Slosar:

Sure. My e-mail is byron@hello5.com. LinkedIn is Byron Slosar. My Instagram is shockingly @byron_is_pop because that’s my dad’s name. 

 

Simone Morris:

Oh, I love that, Byron. Thanks so much for being a guest on The Power of Owning Your Career Podcast. 

 

Byron Slosar:

Thank you for having me, it’s so nice to see you. 

 

Simone Morris:

I sincerely hope that you enjoyed this week’s empowering career story on the podcast. If you did, I’m going to ask you to do me a favor. Wherever you listen to the podcast, be sure that you are subscribing and that you rate and review the podcast. It’s so important as we continue to spread the word of career empowerment.

In addition, you can head over to the LinkedIn platform and join the power of owning your career discussion group. There you can have access to the guests who have been on the podcast as well as others listening to the podcast, as well as myself, where we can continue the conversation. I hope to see you on that platform. You can also e-mail me at pooyc@simonemorris.com if you have a suggestion for a guest or a message that you want me to hear. Personally, thanks so much and make it an inspiring, empowering week in your career.

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Acknowledging Multiple Pathways to Success with Byron Slosar

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