Robbie Adeb
Founder Anything But The Middle

An author, ghostwriter, and digital marketer. I'm also a contributing writer for Inc. and Huffington Post. Transitioning from IT to Digital Marketing & Career Advancement was one of the toughest transitions of my life. I went through a life crisis trying it figure it all out. Going through a life and identity crisis while your bank account also depends on the answer is something I hope you never have to go through. I went from being an expert in "IT Consulting" with 9 years experience to becoming a "Marketing Director" and "Career Advancement Expert" within 2 years.

On today’s episode of the RecruitingDaily Podcast, William Tincup speaks with Robbie Abed about his book, and the concept, Fire Me I Beg You.

Some Conversation Highlights:

You’ve got to trust, they’ve got to trust you, you’ve got to trust them. And so, some of this is kind of, when you’re being direct with them, that’s not hurting anybody’s feelings or anything like that. That’s actually to make sure that they understand, “Hey, we’re about to go do this thing together.”

Yeah, exactly. And I’m sure you have the same experience as well, that I’ve done so many iterations of these types of things, and so many clients throughout my years. I started my career working for Accenture and Deloitte, and so I did a lot of consulting. And I still do consulting, in a much different type of fashion. But, I just got so sick about projecting it that way.

And so, I’ve gotten really good at just saying, “Here’s everything I don’t like about consulting an agency work, and here’s stuff that I really enjoy.” And so, if I can just focus on that, and if they see the ROI in words, then that’s fantastic. If they don’t see the ROI in words, I’m not going to convince you.


Tune in for the full conversation.

Listening time: 25 minutes

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Thanks for tuning in to this episode of The RecruitingDaily Podcast with William Tincup. Of course, comments are always welcome. Be sure to subscribe through your favorite platform.

Music:   This is Recruiting Daily’s Recruiting Live podcast, where we look at the strategies behind the world’s best talent acquisition teams. We talk recruiting, sourcing, and talent acquisition. Each week we take one over complicated topic and break it down so that your three-year-old can understand it. Make sense? Are you ready to take your game to the next level? You’re at the right spot. You’re now entering the mind of a hustler. Here’s your host, William Tincup.

William Tincup:   Ladies and gentlemen, this is William Tincup. You are listening to the Recruiting Daily podcast. I have been looking forward to this podcast for about a month now for a lot of reasons, which we’ll get into during this show. But, we have an author on today. Robbie’s going to be talking about his book, and the concept, Fire Me I Beg You. And so, I just can’t wait to unpack this with him. Robbie, would you do us a favor, introduce yourself? And then we’re going to jump into the book right away.

Robbie Abed:   I am Robbie Abed. I’m the author of Fire Me I Beg You. I’m an executive ghost writer, and I’m also the founder of a company called Anything But The Middle, at its nomiddle.com. Actually, I’m going to launch it next week, so William, your guests might be the first one to see this new podcast. So, I’m happy to be on board.

William Tincup:   Well, we got to talk about No Middle. Tell me a little bit about that. What do you have launching?

Robbie Abed:   Yeah, so nomiddle.com, it’s everything I’ve always wanted to say about starting an agency. And so, if you go there, you’ll see the words are pretty crisp. And the first thing that I say in the website is, if you want to be in the middle, for the love of God, please don’t hire us. It’s because I got sick and tired of working with clients that just wanted to be in the middle. So when I do my writing, I want the writing to be good.

William Tincup:   Yeah, yeah. Yeah, make the logo bigger, got it.

Robbie Abed:   Right, exactly. And so, I wanted it to be good. There’s some clients I work with, there’s just so much teamwork, and collaboration.

William Tincup:   It waters everything down.

Robbie Abed:   It waters everything down. So I was like, “You know what, if I want to be proud of the work I do, I have to eliminate a lot of my potential customers.” And so, I thought of that one day. I was like, “You know what, this is it.”

William Tincup:   Well so, you’re talking about advertising PR, Web, marketing, agency life on that side, right?

Robbie Abed:   For No Middle?

William Tincup:   Yeah.

Robbie Abed:   Yeah, yeah. So, it’s 100% LinkedIn ghostwriting.

William Tincup:   Yeah, yeah, yeah. It’s interesting, because I owned an ad agency, a marketing agency for a long time. I had three keywords that I would listen to during the prospecting when I’d talk to a prospect. The keywords that would shut down a conversation for me were fast, easy, and cheap.

Robbie Abed:   Right. Yes, yes.

William Tincup:   So my little ears, little Spidey sense, whenever someone would say, “Well yeah, this is really easy,” I’d literally stop the call and go, “Okay, so you said one of my keywords.”

Robbie Abed:   Right.

William Tincup:   “And you mean no disrespect, of course. But the mere fact that it’s in your brain, that you think what we do is easy, we’re already at a disconnect, it’s going to end badly.”

Robbie Abed:   Yes.

William Tincup:   “And so, let’s not do that. We’re friends now. Let’s stay friends.”

Robbie Abed:   Exactly.

William Tincup:   So, that was one thing. And then the other side, when I would take on a new client, when we would take on a new client… the agency still is going on, I just sold my equity of it, and they’re doing wonderful.

Robbie Abed:   Fantastic.

William Tincup:   Is I would tell people, “Listen, a great marketing idea should terrify you at first.

Robbie Abed:   Yes. Yes.

William Tincup:   The hairs on your neck should actually… When I drop this idea on you, this idea that the minute you’re going to go, “Oh, I’m not sure we should do that.” Because that’s a great marketing idea. That’s what they look like.

Robbie Abed:   Yes.

William Tincup:   But when you’re working inside of a company, it’s very hard to think like that. Because you’ve got two kids in private school, you got a 4000 square-foot house. So, who’s going to be really innovative?

Robbie Abed:   Right.

William Tincup:   Who’s going to go and take that much risk?

Robbie Abed:   Right.

William Tincup:   And I think that’s one of the things you get into with what you’re doing is, “Listen, if you want to stand out, you’re going to actually have to stand out.

Robbie Abed:   Right. Right. Yes, yes, exactly.

William Tincup:   Shocking.

Robbie Abed:   Yeah. [inaudible 00:   04:   47] was like, “You are not that special.”

William Tincup:   No, it turns out. It turns out.

Robbie Abed:   It turns out you’re actually not that special. And so, I just refused to work with companies who are just not that special.

William Tincup:   I love that. I love that.

Robbie Abed:   And so, that’s the path that I’m taking.

William Tincup:   First of all, I’m in love with that concept. I wish you 100% success on that. Because for me, in my experience at least, you’re on the right path. Because you’re telling people the truth, which is people want to act like it’s really easy, but it’s not, to tell people that they baby’s ugly.

Robbie Abed:   Right.

William Tincup:   There’s nothing easy about that, no matter what your personality. It’s still difficult to both say it, and also hear it and consume it. But when somebody has an idea, “Well, let’s write a book, or let’s do a series of articles, or let’s do an e-book, or let’s do this.” It’s like, “Okay, well let’s just add to the more noise in the ecosystem. Let’s not do that. Let’s do something that’s actually really helpful to people.” I love it, I love it. First of all, congratulations.

Robbie Abed:   Thank you.

William Tincup:   It’s just a great way to approach writing.

Robbie Abed:   Yes.

William Tincup:   It’s also just a great way to thin out the herd.

Robbie Abed:   Yes.

William Tincup:   Tire kickers, and people that don’t want to do things that are really special.

Robbie Abed:   Yeah, exactly. And when you get a chance to take a look at the site-

William Tincup:   I will.

Robbie Abed:   There’s one section at the end where I said, “If you want to get a hold of us, iMessage use at [email protected] If you have an android, we don’t want to work with you.” And the next page is thank you. You know what I mean?

William Tincup:   Sorry, not sorry.

Robbie Abed:   Yeah, yeah, sorry, not sorry. So, if you want to work with us, find a friend that has an iPhone, that can message us.

William Tincup:   Oh, that’s genius. And you know what, it’s a filter.

Robbie Abed:   Yes.

William Tincup:   If they’re not willing… Again, it’s kind of tongue-in-cheek. It’s not. But it’s kind of like, “Listen, this is going to be a relationship where we collaborate, and so we’re going to have to get on each other’s page. And if you can’t borrow somebody’s Droid, or borrow someone’s iPhone, excuse me, to send us a message, you’re not really in.”

Robbie Abed:   Exactly, yeah.

William Tincup:   You’re not really in it.

Robbie Abed:   Exactly. And to tie it in with Fire Me I Beg You, and it’s sort of the very same tone as when you’re looking for jobs and things like that, you want to be able to get to a state to say, “This is what I’m good at, this is why you should hire me.”

William Tincup:   Right.

Robbie Abed:   In very clear terms. And if we’re not a fit, we’re not a fit. And so, the best interviews I had were never interviews.

William Tincup:   Right.

Robbie Abed:   They were just conversations. And so, people who haven’t had the experience of that, who don’t know it’s just a conversation, they don’t know what it’s like. And there’s a lot of people like that. And so, I always say when you’re interviewing with HR or whatever and they have questions to ask you in front of them, and they’re following that list, you’ve already lost.

William Tincup:   Yeah.

Robbie Abed:   Because that’s who they don’t want to hire. And so, they also don’t want to ask those questions.

William Tincup:   Yeah, you’re both kind of going through the motions at that point.

Robbie Abed:   Yes, exactly. 2022 for me is all about just being as direct as possible.

William Tincup:   Oh, I love it. Let’s go backwards for just a second.

Robbie Abed:   Sure.

William Tincup:   So, obviously you ghostwrite for others. But this is a project you did for yourself.

Robbie Abed:   Mm-hmm (affirmative).

William Tincup:   So, take us into that. Obviously, writing is not easy for anyone, no matter how skilled. You took time out of your busy day, life, to then write something that is truly special. Take us into kind of Genesis. What led to this?

Robbie Abed:   Sure.

William Tincup:   And then take us through your process.

Robbie Abed:   What led to it was, it wasn’t just one client. It was a culmination of multiple clients, where there was just a lot of consensus. Everyone’s trying to get consensus on what the word should be. And one day I was just like, “Man, there’s got to be a better way. There’s got to be a better way.” And so, that was the genesis of this is, one, I understood my strength is words. That’s why people hire me.

William Tincup:   Right.

Robbie Abed:   People hire me because they like my words. So, let’s not get that twisted. And so, what I was doing was, “Okay, I want to create a new website, a new brand to think about this.” And the first thing that came to my mind was anything but the middle. Just anything.

William Tincup:   Right.

Robbie Abed:   Anything. For the love of God, anything but the middle. And so when I was creating the website, normal… As you worked in the agency world, how does every website design start, every design project start? Well, it starts by saying, “What other websites do you like?”

William Tincup:   Right.

Robbie Abed:   What other things do you like? And I was like, “Why would I do that?” That’s how you end up in the middle. I don’t want to look like them. I don’t want to sound like them. I want to sound like me. And so, that’s why I created the website. There are no pictures on the website. There are no stock photos, there are no pictures of me, there was nothing. It’s just text.

William Tincup:   Right. Because that’s what you’re and expert at.

Robbie Abed:   Exactly. And so, I made that conscious decision of, “I’m just going to focus on words.” And within the copy of the site, it handles a lot of the intricacies, nuances that people just experience by doing this so many times. So, there’s a few things about… I have things like banned words. These are words that I will charge you money if you make me use these words. Like thought leader, or digital transformation, or design thinking, or agile. These are [crosstalk 00:   10:   53] words.

William Tincup:   You know, this translates so well to the world we live in in HR and recruiting, because we have to do recruiters page, and we have a lot of communication stuff.

Robbie Abed:   Right.

William Tincup:   So behind the scenes, behind the veil, there’s tons of communication. But it’s mostly littered with jargon.

Robbie Abed:   It’s all jargon. And so, there’s a part where I say about… I’m trying to think of what it was. About our…

William Tincup:   Why you’re searching for that kind of a bid on thought leadership, that I’d love for your take on.

Robbie Abed:   Yeah, sure.

William Tincup:   When someone tells me, “We want to position ourselves as thought leaders.” I said, “Okay, well here’s the deal. In our industry, there’s only about seven or eight actual thought leaders. Most of them I thought followers. And here’s the deal, to be a thought leader, you actually, let’s just start with step one, you actually have to have a thought.”

Robbie Abed:   Unoriginal, distinct thought.

William Tincup:   An original thought, yeah. “so, let’s move to step two. Let’s say you have an original thought. Now you’ve actually got to communicate that original thought, and take criticism. Because your original thought is going to be so original, that people aren’t going to like it at first. It isn’t going to make sense at first. You’re going to be ridiculed and criticized, and are you really willing and able to handle all that?

Robbie Abed:   Yes, right.

William Tincup:   Because true thought leadership is cutting a path.

Robbie Abed:   Yes.

William Tincup:   But people think, “Oh, okay, well I’m going to write an article and I’m a thought leader.” No, that’s derivative. That article’s been written at least a thousand times.

Robbie Abed:   Yeah. Absolutely, at least.

William Tincup:   At least. In fact, there’s someone right now in Sudan writing that article as we speak.

Robbie Abed:   And they’re not even writing the article. They give it to a content writer who has no idea about anything about that, and that’s what you’re writing.

William Tincup:   Or worse, it’s a bot that’s collecting words from other articles and assembling them, and it’s going to be the exact same article.

Robbie Abed:   Yes.

William Tincup:   No. To be a thought leader, you actually have to have a thought, an original thought.

Robbie Abed:   Yes. Yes.

William Tincup:   And that shocked people when I’d come out them like that. I’m like, “Yeah, stop saying that. Just stop saying you want to be a thought leader. Just say you want to actually create some content that’s within your voice.” Okay.

Robbie Abed:   Yeah. And I’m thinking about adding another section to my website, now that you mentioned. It’s like, “We can’t make you interesting. I can’t.”

William Tincup:   Oh God, please, please.

Robbie Abed:   I can’t make you interesting.

William Tincup:   No, turns out.

Robbie Abed:   But, I can help you amplify, and simplify, and clarify your messaging, and distributed out there. But, I can’t make you interesting.

William Tincup:   No. No. You either are or you aren’t. And this is the thing about being authentic and genuine, and those might be on your banned list, but it’s like, “Okay, you actually have to be authentic.”

Robbie Abed:   Right.

William Tincup:   You can’t just fake authenticity. Good luck with that in these days and ages. You just can’t do it. You just got to be yourself. Or not.

Robbie Abed:   Right.

William Tincup:   And those are choices that you make. You’re either interesting or you’re not. If you’re not interesting, that’s okay. Nobody died here. It’s okay if you’re not interesting, that’s okay. But let’s not try to put a wrapper around it that basically sells you as something interesting, and then the audience finds out-

Robbie Abed:   You’re really not, right. And even if you did try to make them interesting, it’s going to run across, “Well, they don’t feel comfortable talking about that.”

William Tincup:   Right.

Robbie Abed:   And it’s like, “Okay, then we’re back to square one.” So, what I’ve done is that, and you’ve sort of helped me clarify my own thoughts, is that I’m basically so direct with them. I was saying, that expectations are the root of all evil. And so, what are your expectations? We’re very clear on that. And there’s even a part of the website where, I have a section called logos. Which, every agency website has [crosstalk 00:   15:   02] the work that we’ve done, right?

William Tincup:   Oh, yeah.

Robbie Abed:   So what I did, I said, “This website is our work. If you want a list of logos to make you feel better, go to any agency website and look at all the logos of clients they sort of did work for 10 years ago.” That’s the truth.

William Tincup:   And they got permission to show the logo of.

Robbie Abed:   Right, right, right. Yeah. And a lot of them have 10 years old client testimonials, and it’s like, “Okay, if you like my writing, if you like this website, you’ll love working together.”

William Tincup:   That’s right.

Robbie Abed:   I’m done trying to project everything, and sound so excited about this.

William Tincup:   Well, it’s also kind of getting to the style and collaboration, the heart of collaboration, when you work with somebody on something so intimate.

Robbie Abed:   Yes.

William Tincup:   You’ve got to trust, they’ve got to trust you, you’ve got to trust them. And so, some of this is kind of, when you’re being direct with them, that’s not hurting anybody’s feelings or anything like that. That’s actually to make sure that they understand, “Hey, we’re about to go do this thing together.” 

Which is not quite a marriage, but it’s a collaboration that’s going to be really intimate. And there’s going to be times where I’m going to rub you the wrong way, and there’s going to be times where you rub me the wrong way. And that’s okay. That’s totally a part of the process. And it’s totally appropriate as well. And again, if you’re not down for that, then don’t sign up for that.

Robbie Abed:   Yeah, exactly. And I’m sure you have the same experience as well, that I’ve done so many iterations of these types of things, and so many clients throughout my years. I started my career working for Accenture and Deloitte, and so I did a lot of consulting. And I still do consulting, in a much different type of fashion. But, I just got so sick about projecting it that way. 

And so, I’ve gotten really good at just saying, “Here’s everything I don’t like about consulting an agency work, and here’s stuff that I really enjoy.” And so, if I can just focus on that, and if they see the ROI in words, then that’s fantastic. If they don’t see the ROI in words, I’m not going to convince you.

William Tincup:   Right.

Robbie Abed:   I’m not going to try to convince you why you should do that. That’s not my job.

William Tincup:   Do you find, and do you use different levers with different people, so when you’re exploring a topic or exploring a concept with them, two things… one, is it best that y’all create that together, or is it better that they have got an idea roughed out in their mind? And they kind of basically don’t have the time or energy, or the aptitude and skill set to then put into place? But, they got the idea. If I were to put those on a spectrum, which one would you rather interact with?

Robbie Abed:   Well, it’s a good question. Here’s what normally happens with some of the best [inaudible 00:   18:   03], is that they have an idea.

William Tincup:   A kernel, yeah.

Robbie Abed:   A kernel. But there’s so much information they can’t simplify it. So what I do is I take all that information from their head and this and say, “You know what, this is it.”

William Tincup:   Right.

Robbie Abed:   This is the image [inaudible 00:   18:   27]. For example, I’ll give you an idea. I have a performance coach. She’s an executive performance coach who works with the founders of multimillion dollar companies, and massive companies, things like that. I was helping her create… She wanted to level up. So, I helped her create a foundation for a book. 

But, what I was able to do for her is take all her ideas, her concepts, her originality and say, “This is it. This is the concept, this is the idea.” And they love it. That’s when we work the best. But if they come in there with nothing, no real strong angle, then I can’t help.

William Tincup:   That’s right. Yeah, I’ve found the same thing. It’s pulling blood out of a turnip.

Robbie Abed:   Yes.

William Tincup:   And again, if they’ve got something, even if it’s rough, I can play with it, I can tinker with it.

Robbie Abed:   Just give me something, yes.

William Tincup:   Yeah. Let me ask you a question. I’m sure you get this all the time, around voice, and even maybe the use of different types of mechanisms, like sarcasm, or wit, or humor, whatever the bit is. Have you found that matching the personality or matching to the topic that you want to get out there? Once you figured that out… I love the way you’re doing kind of anthropology. Once they gave you an idea, then now you get it down to something simple. You’re like, “Okay, now this is it. This is what…”

Robbie Abed:   Mm-hmm (affirmative).

William Tincup:   Then do you do another layer of, “Okay, now, to make this really, really compelling for the audience, we really need to come out this in this way? We need to actually really be super sarcastic.”

Robbie Abed:   Yes.

William Tincup:   “Let’s make fun of this. We’re going to actually spend 180 pages making fun of this, and giving people advice.” And again, that’s a horrible example.

Robbie Abed:   Yeah.

William Tincup:   But you know I mean? Do you look at their personality? Do you look at the-

Robbie Abed:   Yes.

William Tincup:   And what needs to be projected?

Robbie Abed:   Yeah. So, my specialty’s working commoditized industries.

William Tincup:   Right.

Robbie Abed:   Where services are no different and in demand across the board. And so, how do you make something different? How do you make a company different that sells cloud architecture services, that looks like everybody else? How do you do that? What I always end up doing… The first thing I did was I tried to reposition it, and it doesn’t work.

William Tincup:   Right.

Robbie Abed:   So I was like, “Okay, there’s no words to describe-”

William Tincup:   Yep. Let’s all get out a thesaurus.

Robbie Abed:   Yes, exactly, there’s no real words to re-describe digital transformation.

William Tincup:   No, turns out.

Robbie Abed:   There’s just no way. I’ve tried every single word combination known to mankind, it doesn’t work. And so, what I do is we go back to the people, the personalities of the people that represent the company. And so I look at the founder, is the founder and entrepreneur? Is the founder and art collector? Is the founder a creative person? So I try, once I simplify the idea, then I say, “Okay, how do we bring this to market?”

And so, I had a client where, he built blinds.com. So, blinds.com was the world’s largest online blinds website. Sold to Home Depot.

William Tincup:   Wow.

Robbie Abed:   They destroyed everyone in the industry, as far as when it comes to selling blinds online.

William Tincup:   Right.

Robbie Abed:   He wrote a book, and then I connected with him to help him market the book. And he’s a marketing person. He’s a little bit of an old-school marketing person, but he was up to any crazy idea I came up with. That’s why I loved him.

William Tincup:   I automatically love him.

Robbie Abed:   Yeah, yeah. So, we had some things like, we got his book on a billboard in Times Square.

William Tincup:   Oh, Dang.

Robbie Abed:   I got him, are you familiar with Cameo?

William Tincup:   Oh, yeah, of course.

Robbie Abed:   Yeah, so we did a Cameo. We paid one of the main persons from a series called The Succession. There’s this old guy named Roy Jones, who is constantly telling people to fuck off.

William Tincup:   Right, right.

Robbie Abed:   And so, we hired him to talk crap about his book.

William Tincup:   Oh, I love it. That’s genius.

Robbie Abed:   And he was all about it. He was all about it. Things like that.

William Tincup:   Well, that’s truly doing something that’s going to be noticed.

Robbie Abed:   Yeah.

William Tincup:   You’re taking risk with each of those. You take risk, and those risks, that’s where the genius is. It’s in the risk, it’s in that person going, “You know what, yeah, let’s put some money, time, and energy behind that.” Okay, so first of all, we only have just a few seconds left.

Robbie Abed:   Yeah.

William Tincup:   Because you and I could talk forever. When people want to hire you, or someone like you, how do they… And I know the audience will ask me this question. They might not ask you, but they would ask me. How much does this cost? And I know it’s going to be the consulting answer of, “It depends.” I get that. But, how do they frame it up in their mind to think about just the pathway of what it should cost?

Robbie Abed:   That’s a good… Because on my website, the question is it always depends. So, on my website I’d say the cost on it. Let me see if I can find it.

William Tincup:   Oh, that’s genius. Here it is. 200 words equals, there you go, there’s a number.

Robbie Abed:   Yeah. So, the title of the page is called Everyone. It says, “We aren’t for everyone. Our projects start at 150,000. It’s only expensive if it doesn’t work.”

William Tincup:   It’s perfect. First of all, I love that. Again, getting back to the subject of, “If this scares you…” Or first of all, “If this price is too high, then don’t call us.”

Robbie Abed:   Don’t call us.

William Tincup:   “No, no, it’s cool, it’s cool. We can still be friends. It’s cool. But if you’re going to call us, now there’s not a negotiation. You already know. You’ve got an idea.”

Robbie Abed:   Yes.

William Tincup:   I love that. Oh my God, I love that.

Robbie Abed:   Yeah, it’s so funny that you asked that. Because I hate the typical consulting response.

William Tincup:   Oh, yeah.

Robbie Abed:   So I just want to bring it up front, “This is it.”

William Tincup:   Yeah. And you know what, and if you have trouble with it, cool, no worries. We can still be friends. Robbie, this was wonderful. Thank you so much.

Robbie Abed:   Thank you so much.

William Tincup:   Seriously, thank you for your time, and your intellect, and just I appreciate you coming on the show.

Robbie Abed:   All right, thanks, Will. I appreciate it.

William Tincup:   Alrighty, and thanks for everyone listening to the Recruiting Daily podcast. Until next time.

Music:   You’ve been listening to the Recruiting Live podcast, by Recruiting Daily. Check out the latest industry podcasts, webinars, articles, and news at RecruitingDaily.com.

The RecruitingDaily Podcast

Authors
William Tincup

William is the President & Editor-at-Large of RecruitingDaily. At the intersection of HR and technology, he’s a writer, speaker, advisor, consultant, investor, storyteller & teacher. He's been writing about HR and Recruiting related issues for longer than he cares to disclose. William serves on the Board of Advisors / Board of Directors for 20+ HR technology startups. William is a graduate of the University of Alabama at Birmingham with a BA in Art History. He also earned an MA in American Indian Studies from the University of Arizona and an MBA from Case Western Reserve University.


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