Peer Guidance

Jackson McDonough Founder of Upwardly – Telling It Like It Is


and welcome to another Talent like is my name is Jade Alberts a partner at netsource Capital and founder of peer


guidance telling it like it is is here to share stories tell stories if you have any questions it is live ask away


if you’re watching this after the fact on um you know on on repeat put your question in there uh Jackson and I will


we’ll answer them I would like to thank our sponsor today the Canadian blockchain Consortium our Canadian


blockchain Summit is October 19th and 20th here in Calgary tickets are available the website will be up here


shortly in the comments section but you know what let’s not talk about that let’s get after uh let’s get after this


conversation with uh the founder of upwardly Jackson how are you today Jade I’m great it’s uh super exciting to


be on the show you know a year and a half ago when we we launched here in Calgary going on LinkedIn seeing social


media this was a show that I loved seeing great conversations happening with really cool people a lot of them


I’d reach out to after uh they were on your show so it’s great to be here today and thanks for having me well like you


said it’s it’s long overdue it should have it should have happened almost to the day after we met to be quite honest


you’re a busy guy you’re a busy guy but you know I’m happy to be here today to talk about upwardly you know we’re in a


really exciting uh time of our our young business career and um just super excited to get into it


today well you know what let’s talk about that right I mean you you you


I I love your story right when we met for coffee I think we penciled in an hour and it was like an hour and a half


if not longer and and I mean you moved away you went to you went to Austin you you had your career and you’re like you


know what I’m gonna come back home so why don’t you you share your story uh you know about your in a little bit about your career and then why you


wanted to come back to Calgary and and how that started with upwardly


yeah absolutely uh you know I’m a born and raised calgarian my family’s here uh


my other co-founder is actually my mother Jill McDonough uh so we have a really great relationship there and when


I was graduating University it was uh back in 2018 looking at Calgary we


hadn’t quite hit that Tech excitement in the city you know there was a little bit of a cloud over it to me and it felt


like if I didn’t take a job with you know some kind of connect or you had to know somebody to get in somewhere uh and


and people just weren’t as excited energy had taken a little bit of a hit obviously and uh I wanted to go


somewhere that that really embodied that energy and that excitement that Calgary was when my parents were graduating


University and so I researched a few different cities and I saw that Austin Texas was you know really doing some


Progressive things in the tech space people were flocking to that City it was a Melting Pot of people from all over


the place with different ideas and different perspectives and a lot of those people were new grads and young


people so I went there started my career in Tech with a really great company I


had an awesome career with them we went public on the New York Stock Exchange but what became clear to me was you know


the power of hiring for potential versus pedigree was was amazing for for that


City and that ecosystem and all the while I was getting articles sent to me by Jill


talking about you know the flight of young Talent here in Alberta for the first time we are graduating more folks


and and not hiring them at a high level and actually seeing more of them leave


than stay here in the province to work and something had to be done about that


so Jill and I put our heads together and we wanted to figure out what can we do to talk about the abundance of


incredible high potential Talent that’s here in Calgary that’s got those Tech


skills that’s got those really great X factors that they can bring into a business and communicate that with


businesses so that they see the value in hiring tomorrow’s leaders today and so we came up with the business plan of


upwardly over about a year uh launched it back in June of uh 2021 and uh here


we are today and it’s just been an amazing journey and I’m excited to talk more about it and and


I love the journey that you’ve taken right not not just because of uh you


know of of the industry that you’re in I mean we’ve all probably used recruiting agencies in the fact in the in the past


and I’m just going to say it most of them suck right they suck they just I stopped using them 15 20 years ago right


I just don’t didn’t feel comfortable with them and then and then when we sat down and you you explained your vision


to me and what you wanted to do and it’s more of a it’s not a transaction of the you know what I’ve got these people and


I got to find a job for these people so I got to place these people and it’s like you know what we’re gonna find that person that works for you that find that


person that that fits into your role into your vision into your company culture rather than this is what I got


and this is what uh you know you should take so you know talk a little bit more about uh what makes you different and


why you’ve been able to make such a difference in Calgary well Jade you’re 100 right you know


often when I’m speaking with I’m never right just to let you know come on you are you are on that and it’s it’s funny


because it is an industry that has has been the way it is for a long time and


when people ask questions about why it’s not different well it’s just the way it’s always been you know I would argue


that some of the questions that I’ve seen some of our competitors ask in interviews uh that my grandparents might


have been getting the same questions asked to them for their interviews back in the day so Talent has changed the way we work has


changed if we look at what covet did and how it accelerated technology into the workplace and and also gave everybody a


real long time and I mean we know a real long time to reflect and think about what do I value about what I do every


day where do I want to work how do I want this to change and people in in


Talent acquisition weren’t as quick to address those questions and understand a


better fit with a company and it starts with our clients as a partnership we


view ourselves as an extension of their hiring team not a transactional move a resume across across our desk fill a


role kind of company what you see with some of these standard bigger larger recruitment firms we wanted to go in and


understand the culture the type of people that work there and Excel and then go out every day because every


single day we’re talking with candidates that are searching for roles might be working already our new grads and


University we’re bringing them into our own Talent database and understanding what kind of


opportunities are you looking for and so when we meet with our clients we already have that go ahead lead because our


database can tell us you know this three people are a great fit for this organization I want to tell a quick


story about you know a candidate that I think really embodies the story of upwardly and why we’ve been able to have


the success that we’ve had in in our short time frame so far uh we had a candidate a client of ours a great


Calgary tech company here and they were looking for business development reps a


great entry-level role for somebody looking to get into Tech or software sales and build on a lot of those


authentic skills that you know typically you’d see the Next Generation bring to the table yeah and you know there that


we go through the job description with the client and of course they’ve got experience and degree required and we


always check off those boxes but we also want to understand the culture and the way people work and typically we’ll come


back to them with three candidates for a role uh two that you know 100 check off


every box on the job description and a third because we really really just love this person and know that this person


might not have a degree and in this case the candidate did not have a degree but he had moved over here from the East


Coast at 18 could never afford to go to school started working at a car dealership an absolute grinder and we


realized you know if we put this person in this role he’s going to give 180


percent more than somebody who’s gotten a degree and is ready to go into the role because he just wants that chance


and so we put him forward and he’s done an amazing job with the company he’s at


now it’s almost been a year that he’s been there but it’s finding those unique talent profiles where you know this


might not be the way it was always done but I promise you this person is going to bring so much more value than what


somebody uh normally would I’m going to give you two claps on that


all right I mean I I just I mean I think that’s a great story as I I talk about it I’m a university Dropout I mean


luckily enough things worked out for me uh but and and I talked to my wife about this who does a lot of the hiring for


the company that she works for right and I was like you know I’m not dissing degrees I’m just like you know what


sometimes think outside the box just because someone has a degree doesn’t mean that they’re going to be the perfect person for this job it shouldn’t


be based on just four years of your life some of the most incredible people I know don’t have degrees and I love that


you know you’re putting two people together that put that box check the check all the boxes in that that one I


don’t know call them a wild card I don’t care what what your term is internally but I love that and I think that’s a great story and I think that’s literally


what makes Alberta great it really is and it’s a larger conversation than just degree or no


degree you look at just traditional recruiting and and job search there’s buckets that we have to put people in


but often there’s nobody doing the work to identify other ancillary skills or


experiences or X factors that people bring to the table that actually fill those buckets and so much more and


that’s what our role is in the space is to do the work so a company doesn’t have to spend that time those resources every


single day going through resumes posting interviewing just to find out this person doesn’t work out it’s what we do


every day and we want our companies and our clients to continue what they do every day and we’ll do what we do and


it’s a great it’s been so fun for us the whole way I love that I I do because when I wanted to figure out how how


LinkedIn worked and you know trying to get a and I wasn’t looking for a job after we exited our company but I also


knew I didn’t have a degree so I applied for just over 70 jobs and I could have filled some of them for


as a basic sales rep at Hudson Bay to you know to CEO of a company which I knew I would be able to run but I knew I


didn’t have some of the qualifications and all of them came back Bam Bam Bam Bam you’re out you’re out you’re out you’re out you’re out right and not even


not even thinking about uh you know holy good this guy’s done something he’s he’s run companies he’s exited companies you


know things along those lines right I was just out automatically so I just love that that you guys do that and and


I think that’s again one of the things that absolutely separates you and makes you different in this in this ecosystem


yeah it’s it’s honestly it’s our honor to to be advocating for that talent and


finding it every day and telling those stories that’s our role as a recruitment agency is to do that work and to find


out those stories and to connect companies with them uh because that’s our whole business and so it’s a really


unique role to play when done right and uh it’s it’s definitely worked out for


us so far no I would say so and I and I know we touched based on this before and


and again I love what you do on LinkedIn and I’m a big networker my God I posted this


morning I’m out there all the time getting out there talking about things I mean I love what you do I love that you


give back to the community and to me personally the one of the reasons why I reach out to you when somebody has or or


we or we need something or I know of a company we’re working with that needs something is because I can see that


passion behind what you’re doing and what you’re bringing and getting involved in the community setting up those coffee dates and saying hey you


know what how can I help you but you know don’t worry about what you can do for me like what do you need is there anything I can help you with and I think


that goes a long way of of showing your character and how awkwardly works


yeah you know we were talking about this earlier Jaden it’s a unique value proposition that Calgary brings and


we’ve started working in the U.S now and I think it’ll be a real strength for us because we’re going to continue to do


our business this way but I remember when we were launching you know I had different connections I’d grown up here


my whole life and so we I reached out to a ton you know parents friends my


friends coaches teachers uh people that I’d worked with in the past and I filled


my calendar up for about a month with coffees and my only ask was yeah I’m going to talk about what I’m doing with


upwardly it wasn’t a sales pitch it wasn’t a hey I’d like you to try us out it was talking about the conversation


similar to what we’re having and ending it with one final ask and that was who are two people in your network that


would benefit from this conversation and can we set up a coffee with them and I had coffees for for it felt like ever


they were just ongoing and it’s such a great thing about Calgary is no matter who you reach out to if you do it the


right way and you’re authentic about it everybody will have a coffee with you and we’ll share with you and we’ll help


you in in the ways that they can and I think it’s a very beautiful and unique


thing that we have in this city and it’s something that you know I’d look to to take that that character trade of


calgarians into any business Endeavor going forward and specifically upwardly


yeah again I mean I I almost consider myself a coffee King to be quite honest with you and it’s one


of the reasons why I started Founders coffee back you know five-ish years ago and and again I can’t stress how


collaborative our ecosystem I seem to talk about it you know in 240 of 240 episodes but there’s one thing that will


never change and people want to deal with people people want to work with people and people always buy from people


and and and once you create that relationship and and what you’re doing and creating that connection with people


and companies but the people within those companies that’s how that’s how companies are successful people are the


heartbeat of the company and that will never change 100 the heartbeat of our city here and


you know getting to do the work that we’ve done getting to meet the diversity of of people different backgrounds


coming from different places different parts of our city there’s so many incredible stories and people here uh


it’s something that I hope you know our city and our Province continues to shout from the rooftops to bring more people


here to be a part of what we have here and uh you know people in Calgary are


are different they’re built differently they’re wired differently you could say and I absolutely love it it’s a big


reason why upwardly was started here oh and I love it and I think that kind of


rolls into our next question like our next topic of conversation where I don’t want to get I’m always a little bit


controversial sometimes when it comes on it comes to things but there’s always you know you know you and I are around


the ecosystem the tech ecosystem the startup ecosystem you obviously play in in other ecosystems as well when it


comes to oil and gas or whatever it may be but I always see these announcements that come out you know all these


companies coming here they’re going to create a thousand jobs or we have 2000 it seems like we’ve had 2 000 to 2500


open jobs in the tech industry for the last five years so I kind of want to get your perspective on this does you know


when a company comes in here do they actually say you know we’re gonna hire a thousand people do they hire a thousand


people or is that all political you know who’s monitoring this and you know should we be holding these companies


accountable if they say they’re going to do it should they be doing it a little bit right well I love it


because Jill and I talk about about this every day those announcements well great and encouraging uh and and they’re a


great sign of you know opportunity being created we’re not hearing uh you know two years


later after this announcement that this many jobs was actually created from that announcement and I think there hasn’t


been quite that accountability for me I think those are the stories that should be told Jill certainly feels the same


way and we without getting into too much detail a great reason to follow upwardly


whether you’re looking for work or looking to hire or not uh is that we’re working on a really incredible


initiative that I I can’t give too much detail yet but I’m really excited about it where we really want to acknowledge


the companies and the businesses that are creating the most jobs and the top


jobs uh here in Calgary and Alberta and celebrate them because that is where


that is where the opportunity begins and it it won’t necessarily be accountability but an announcement is


great right a thousand jobs in Calgary is amazing but let’s celebrate them when


they do it and let’s encourage them to keep making more so a very exciting initiative coming out with upwardly and


a few amazing Partners but but definitely uh follow our follow our


feeds uh if you’re interested in learning more about that in a few months well and I think that’s good and I think that’s a great initiative right because


I mean I can go out there tomorrow make an announcement and say I’m going to create 100 jobs in two years and then


you know get all the press for it and then literally it’s gone right three days it’s out of


the new cycle no one talks about it you know things along those lines so I I like that do you think there’ll be any


negative feedback for you know let’s say down the road if this company comes in says we’re creating a thousand jobs and


then two years later you come out and say you’ve created 15. well I hope I hope instead of negative


feedback and and this might be something my friends and family tells uniquely to me I like to inspire change with


positivity and I like to take a positive angle on on everything that we do and so I hope instead of negative feedback it


turns into a conversation of why didn’t we get you there what more can the city do the people here do to make sure that


you do hit that goal versus you know the negative aspect of you should have hit


it let’s work together to create these goals because when you do create that volume of job growth in our city and in


our economy it lifts all boats so all boats should have a stake in in making sure that those things happen


I I like that I think that’s a great answer right I mean because but I’d also like to see you know companies become a


little more accountable for for just rather than just throwing a a number they pulled out of the air right then


then things along those along those lines right a thousand is is a big big number right especially for for well you


will use the company extra yesterday right like they say they’re going to create a thousand jobs well we we have


allegedly 200 to 2500 or 2 000 to 2500 jobs open in the tech so technically


those should be gone like we should have one job opening in one person not working in Tech development as of within


a year well the the ultimate goal is that nobody’s not working yeah right everybody can get a job if they want but


you know I was at the Infosys uh launch the other day a beautiful space what an


absolutely incredible thing to add to our Tech ecosystem here the amount of space the collaboration the the the


ancillary benefits that are going to come off of having a presence uh a tech


development like that here and the announcement wasn’t hey uh you know we’re still hiring for the 500 jobs we


originally announced it’s we’re at 650 and so we’re actually going to project that we’re going to hire a thousand by


2024 and by getting to 650 I have faith that they’ll be able to do that and uh


you know one one thing that you hear this all the time Jade about the tech space here is a lot of people


fundamentally believe that there’s not enough talent to go around especially when it comes to that more senior or


mid-level Talent that’s really experienced in the space well we need to attract them here because those are the


ones that really teach and influence and grow those entry-level high potential


individuals that that our city is full of and so a company like info says hiring 650 full-time roles and bringing


in people that have great experience in Tech I think is a great thing for our city and and you’ll see people because


it’s Tech they’ll be there for a few years and they join another company and they lead the Next Generation the next


Workforce too and so the more the merrier for me when it comes to Opportunities and big companies coming


here and I think there’s a lot of other creative ways we can think about it too but I don’t know if we have enough time


to get into all that do it but no I I mean and I like that right and I I totally agree with you even if somebody


comes from whether it be out of town out of you know from America or whatever they’re going to get here they’re going


to love it here they’re going to commit you know you know live here with their families and and and and and get


involved in our entire in our our community and and yeah you know what that might be the next person that


starts the next unicorn or you say you know what I like this I got a better idea it’s time for me to take a chance I


see the support I get in Calgary right it’s just going to create more of that entrepreneurial mindset


a hundred percent and and whether that means you start a business or not an entrepreneurial mindset is just key


wherever you are and whatever you’re doing to be curious to challenge and to go for it uh to ultimately to pack


yourself and I think when we look at the tech ecosystem in Calgary now and how much it’s developed over the last few


years uh it’s it’s on us the the companies that have built their


presences here to continue to invest back in talent that is early level to


train them to give them the experience to offer them the opportunity to make an impact within the company so that you


know in in three years we’re not having the same Talent shortage conversation anymore we we have people that have got


the experience that have worked hard and have earned it and uh that’s really where I see our industry going today I


have conversations with plenty of tech leaders uh you know on a weekly basis and they’re all United towards that


let’s create those career Pathways let’s create opportunities uh and again it’s


just that’s what we do in Calgary we make happen we get done yeah


we do I used that phrase last night on uh actually someone compared the startup


TNT or something and I said I won’t I won’t say what it is I said no we’re not like that we get done I was like


yeah yeah maybe I shouldn’t have said it but sometimes it just spews out yeah yeah


that’s okay that’s okay I’m okay with it because it was true yep so hey so now


you know I mean again I love what you guys are doing you’re moving forward so uh so what’s next for for your for


upwardly Jackson you know I I’d be remiss to say it’s whenever you’re in a startup you


are so focused on the next thing in the next Milestone and you don’t often stop


and smell the roses but you know we have just an incredible team uh that has has


worked so hard to get us to where we are I’m so proud of the people that we’ve surrounded ourselves with that are a


part of upwardly they’re all Future Leaders they’re all absolutely Dynamic and they are going to be a big part of


why we continue to grow and uh that’s where we’re at now we’ve started uh with


a few clients in the U.S we have placed across Canada and the US so far we’re going to continue on that mandate uh you


know while Calgary is our headquarters it is not only the only place we recruit it and that’s just the reality of you


know the market and and where companies are operating what’s been great for us is working with companies headquartered


in Calgary and earning the respect building the use cases recruiting for their entire teams and then also


recruiting for their Branch down in the U.S and meeting new clients down there that way too it’s been really organic


for us that way so beyond that just adding more people to our team


continuing to build our client base and you know we we have a very amazing track


record we’ve filled a hundred percent of the roles we’ve been given and our client retention is at 100 and so if we


can keep those two things perfect which you know I I realize is is a crazy goal


uh but we’re full of crazy goals and we’re going to keep checking them off the longer we’re around well I can say


that’s 100 awesome like that that’s great I love it I mean it’s a good goal


to have uh you know to be perfect and and and keep those going and again keeping people happy right I mean


filling jobs that’s what we’re about I mean that’s you know people we got people that are hungry to work here and


and you know what it’s not like you know my mom and dad work for the same job for 38 39 years I mean and I’m probably a


rarity where where you know I had a nine year nine year almost in them kind of you know nine year before I became an


entrepreneur even during the entrepreneur type thing but I mean you know just because a person jumps from


job to job doesn’t doesn’t mean they’re not employable it’s just like you know what maybe maybe something changed in that company maybe the culture change


maybe this I want to be part of it or I’ve stepped out with somebody to start a new job or start a new uh you know


start a new startup whatever it may be you’re exactly right it’s it’s not a


unique story anymore Jade you know I think people are certainly looking and mindful of different opportunities and


different places that fit their lifestyle and what we realize now is people’s Lifestyles change through their


whole entire life and there are opportunities that are suited more to what you want to do so I would I would


end on saying you know don’t be afraid to reach out to our team here uh just to


understand you know what’s out there learn about the market we’re in it every day we’re talking about opportunities


and with companies and with cultures every day and uh you know use us as that free resource and for companies you know


if you want to take your talents to the next level and you want to hire tomorrow’s leaders we are here we we are


a proud Calgary company we want to work with other Calgary companies and you


know we’re just we’re on a mission to to make sure that the amazing abundance of talent here is actionable and impactful


within organizations here as well so reach out to us I love it that’s a great


ask and again I mean I think the one thing I mean there’s not very


many positives that have come out of covet but the one thing that um the two things that I I think it it’s made


mental Wellness uh you know come to the Forefront asking to help is you know like I’m wearing you know it’s okay not


to be okay asking for help people are are doing that but more importantly I think they’ve you know part of the


mental Wellness side of that is it’s actually I want to be happy in my job I just don’t want to drive downtown sit in


an office from nine to five and then drive back home and try and live my life I want something I want to do something


great so yeah I agree reach out if you if you’re not happy and you you think that you need a change I mean just go to


the website in the comments section and and they’ll be they’ll be you know Jackson your team will be


there to help you so there’s my ask if you’re not happy Reach Out foreign love it appreciate it but I’m not


letting you end on that I mean as much as that would be a really good way to end I mean


let’s keep it going I’m here I’m ready we could probably go for another half an hour oh but I I love I love my last


question here and I’d like you to put a little spin on it more on uh you know more on the uh


you know not the recruitment side of it maybe the happiness side or or you know person you know person you know looking


for a job you know kind of frame it around that but if you had one piece of advice for somebody that’s you know not


happy in their job looking for a new job um you know what should they do and uh you know how should they move forward


great question Jade uh for me back yourself trust yourself you know when


you’re hearing uh that inner voice or you have that intuition to make a change


the reality is we’re never gonna have all of the pieces together that are going to give us enough confidence to to


move forward with it just just go for it and uh you know figure it out along the


way but as long as you back yourself and trust yourself enough that’s where amazing learning opportunities happen


that’s when you can really develop your own skills your own experience and you


know I know for me as long as in whatever I do I’m backing myself it’s it’s helped a lot for my own mental


health uh for my own happiness and uh you know I I’m always going to be that


way so that would be my one piece of advice is never never stop backing yourself I love that I mean I think that’s a


great piece of advice right believing in yourself trusting yourself right you you you’ve got to keep yourself happy you’ve


got to keep yourself mentally well uh I mean there’s a lot of other aspects of that but you know what a lot of it


starts starts with what you’re doing in your career 100 That’s it man that was uh what a


great conversation and long overdue we should have had this as I said a year and a half ago


you know what I’m happy we had it it’s it’s such a great show you have Jade uh you know there’s been what over 250 of


them now maybe more and uh it’s I’m just honored to be a part of it and thank you for having me on and and being able to


talk about outwardly no no thank you for coming on sharing your knowledge I always appreciate it when people agree


to come on and and I you know continue on being awesome and doing what you’re doing and helping people and helping companies you know Collide those worlds


and making so many lives better so I really do appreciate that Jackson thank you so much thank you Jade all right


well and I hope everybody enjoys the rest of their plus 27 sunny day it might be a pool office day today I think but


uh we’ll kind of we’ll see how it goes