How being fired by Gary Vee turned Adam Posner into a recruiting rockstar

After working in the advertisement and marketing industry for 15 years, Adam Posner was suddenly fired from his role at VaynerMedia. But rather than bathing in self-pity, he decided to turn his ‘catastrophic failure’ into a life-lesson: taking accountability. Just a few years later, he is one of the most influential and motivational figures in the world of recruitment.

Jasper Spanjaart on September 25, 2020 Average reading time: 5 min
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How being fired by Gary Vee turned Adam Posner into a recruiting rockstar

Posner founded NHP Talent Group in 2017. With NHP he connects premier digital marketing firms with premier talent. Then, in 2019, he started his own podcast: The PozCast, in which he interviews experts from all walks of life about career journeys and personal growth. In just a few years, Posner grew into one of the leading voices within the world of recruitment. But it wasn’t until he was fired by none other than Gary Vaynerchuk, that he was able to accomplish such feats. 

Taking accountability

“My firing unlocked something inside of me”, Posner told Brian Cristiano during a morning session at RecFest. “It comes back to the word tenacity. Tenacity is where I have to go when I really need to dig down. It’s when I have to call my wife and tell her I’m fired. Tenacity is what keeps me going. It gets me to the point of pushing forward.” Posner’s shock firing came at a time when he had just bought a house and started to settle down. All in all: he was comfortable. 

“You have to take accountability. When you make a mistake, or whether you fired, you have to take accountability.”

“It may sound like one of those terrible cliche motivational posters, but it’s all about how you react”, Posner said. “We’re all human. We’re all fallible. We all make mistakes – but it truly is about how you react. I had a catastrophic failure in life. Don’t get me wrong: wasn’t nice to get fired. It sucked.” In life or in business, one thing seems certain about bold moves: they never stem from a period of comfort. “You have to take accountability. When you make a mistake, or whether you fired, you have to take accountability.”

Listen to the ‘why’

Leaving his six-figure salary behind, Posner pivoted towards something he felt a real passion for: recruiting and talent acquisition. Armed with a wealth of experience on the advertising side, he felt he could bring a unique perspective when working with candidates. “I got to learn under a veteran recruiter who really made me understand the candidates and the clients’ needs”, Posner told Cristiano. “But my biggest mistake wast that I didn’t listen enough.”

“I once tried to close a candidate, but I lost that deal because I simply didn’t know the reason why they wanted to switch jobs.”

Rather than listening, Posner said he was always thinking of the next thing he would say. “I quickly realised that understanding the candidate’s true motivation is the key to everything. Why are they making this move? I once tried to close a candidate, but I lost that deal because I simply didn’t know the reason why they wanted to switch jobs.”

“It’s all about asking that question: Why do you want to start this new career? Why do you want this job?”

Going back to his manager with the bad news, Posner faced a couple of direct questions: ’Did you listen? Did you ask the right questions?’. “I did not. But again: I had to own that L and turn it into a W. Now it’s the one lesson I give to every new recruiter out there: just listen. And it is difficult at times, to really listen between the lines. But it’s all about asking that question: Why do you want to start this new career? Why do you want this job?” 

‘Plan your work and work your plan’

Posner doesn’t describe himself as a ‘technical recruiter’, but focuses on his interactions with candidates to become the very best. “I use my conversations with candidates as the biggest source of learning”, he says. “It’s all about reverse engineering the process so you can learn about what and when you need to do or say certain things. But at the same time: you have to plan and a  strategy.”

“There’s no better feeling than throwing that final post-it note in the trash after completing it.”

It was advice given to him by his first boss that stuck with Posner. “Plan your work and work your plan. Now I wake up, and after being in daddy mode, I plan my work and I attack it. Keep repeating it backwards and forwards. There’s no better feeling than throwing that final post-it note in the trash after completing it. Sometimes 80% of the tasks done can be considered a good day, but you simply have to have a plan and a strategy.”

Understand your ‘why’

Make no mistake, getting fired by Gary Vaynerchuk and Vayner Media is not what made Posner one of the leading voices in recruitment. Nor did it provide any reason at all for Posner to be successful in subsequent endeavours. Getting fired, putting it bluntly, was the easy part. It’s how Posner bounced back. How he responded. “I sat down with Gary for about an hour and the biggest thing he told me was: Stop trying to fix the things you’re bad at, and double-down on the things you’re good at”, Posner said. 

“So now, every time I look at my e-mail signature, or my hoodie, I see her initials: NHP. I know why I’m doing it.”

“I know I was good at connecting, identifying opportunities and putting relationships first.” In short: he doubled-down, and found his why. “Then the hardest thing was thinking of a name. I struggled for weeks, and then my wife asked me: ‘What is the most important thing to you?’. The was a simple one: my daughter, Nina. So now, every time I look at my e-mail signature, or my hoodie, I see her initials: NHP. I know why I’m doing it. I look to them to pull me up on the worst days and on the best days, if I want to show gratitude, it’s for my family. That’s my why. 

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Jasper Spanjaart

Jasper Spanjaart

Editor-in-Chief and Writer at ToTalent.eu
Editor-in-Chief and writer for European Total Talent Acquisition platform ToTalent.eu.
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