March 20, 2023

The Hirewell Hot Corner: March Madness / Recruiting for Top 5 and Cinderella Schools and Companies


Episode Highlights

March Madness Cinderella Stories


March Madness Seeding/Big vs. Small Companies


Recruiting for Larger vs. Smaller Companies (Corporate vs. Agency Recruiting)


Cameron Khani Spotlight


Hivewatch Overview/Growth Goals


Two-Minute Drill: Bracket Predictions


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In this week’s episode, Dan and Louie welcome the Head of Talent Acquisition at HiveWatch, Cameron Khani to the show. The crew discusses the upcoming madness that is The Men’s and Women’s NCAA Basketball Tournaments and how every year top teams end up losing to what we refer to them as “Cinderella Stories”. We segway that into recruiting by showing similarities between big companies and small companies to top basketball programs and small basketball programs and how hiring and recruiting for those companies/ programs can be challenging. We use the rest of our time to dive deeper into Cameron’s background and HiveWatch and the vision he sees long term for the company.

Episode Transcript

Welcome back to the Hirewell Hot Corner where sports and recruitment meet. I am your host, Dan Spittel, joined as always by my co-host Louis Morici. This week we are so pleased to be joined by our first non-Hirewell guest. Cameron, welcome to the show. So glad to be here. Thanks for having me, Dan and Louie, been following Hirewell for quite some time now. And really excited to kind of merge the worlds of recruiting and basketball together, especially college basketball being one of my loves. And so, yeah,

March Madness is upon us. So let’s talk about it. Awesome. Cameron is the head of talent acquisition at HiveWatch and also obviously an avid sports fan. So Cam, we’re thrilled to have you on the show. Let’s jump right in. Talk about March Madness, like you said. So we have the NCAA men’s and women’s tournaments starting up here in a couple days.

We just had the first set of our first four games last night. The other one’s going on tomorrow. So Louie, Cam, who’s ready for the magic of March? Guess I’ll raise my hand on that one. Don’t have a dog in the fight, UNC, not eligible or just didn’t make it. And then refuse to go to the NIT tournament.

So just going to wear this hat with a really tiny logo so it’s not too apparent, but excited. It’s always a fun time of year. Yeah. And that’s why I’m wearing my HiveWatch hat. It’s because Florida is going to be in the NIT. And there are four seeds, so excited for their game against UCF tonight.

We have been losing to UCF and football and I’m thinking that we may lose to them in basketball. So let’s focus on the actual good teams in this year’s tournament. There you go. My Robert Morris Colonials did not win the Horizon League this year, so they are not in the tournament either.

So we’re all just here for the chaos and the upsets, I guess. But, let’s talk about that a little bit because, you know, it’s always prevalent every year. I happen to have an Oral Roberts University shirt on today, purchased after their majestic run of the Sweet 16, a couple years back.

And, you know, funny story for how I bought it, but that’s for a later date. Let’s talk about those smaller schools, these lower seeds, who somehow every year there’s at least one who makes that crazy run further than getting knocked out by a big team. Yeah. It’s something that no one expects on paper. You know, they should lose in the first round, but every year there’s one team that comes in, usually has just the gritty work ethic, makes timely shots and just savages on defense. I mean, when it comes to basketball, that-

that can outplay a lot of skill, especially in a playoff do or die moment. So I think that’s what some of the makeup of those teams tend to be. So we’ll see who that is this year. Yeah. And a lot of mid-majors have actually shifted to close to being a blue blood. Think about Gonzaga, 20, 25 years ago they were the mid-major team. Now we’re talking about them as one of the top five or 10 teams every single year.

And then you think about the teams like Creighton, they’re always in the conversation as far as like a mid-major that’s going to make some noise. And then you just have these pesky teams like St Peter’s last year, that just came in and said, we belong here. And they had a great coach, Shaheen Holloway, and really kind of ran the table there against some much better competition, including Kentucky and a few other teams there.

So, for me, I think that’s the best story of college basketball. It’s the Cinderellas. You know, doing my bracket, I don’t see too many Cinderellas making it too far in this year’s tournament either. Yeah, you know, it’s unfortunate. We talk about these teams that are elevating.

Oral Roberts, they’re a 12 seed this year, which is a big jump for them. But they pulled a five seed in Duke. That’s quite a matchup they’re going to have to overcome. Personally in my bracket, I have one 12 seed winning over five this year, and that’s VCU. I got them going to the Sweet 16, but I don’t have any crazier upsets than that at this point.

Wondering if either of you have anything different. Not too much, I think. I have Montana State beating Kansas State, but then losing to Kentucky. I have Northwestern going through Boise State and UCLA. I mean, again, this is not predictable, it just happens, but none of ’em, no surprises I guess in the Elite Eight, in my brackets, I have two of them. Yeah, and I barely have any surprises. I think my biggest upset would be Memphis beating Purdue, in the Sweet 16. So, I think that’s very possible. You know, with a Penny Hardaway led team that has a bunch of talent and actually I believe they beat Houston just the other day.

To win their conference championship. So, personally I think that Memphis could be one of those teams, but still they’re an eight seed. So a solid team, not a double digit seed by any stretch. Yeah, absolutely. And we talk about all these potential non upsets. This year we might get a really chalk year, but every year a team or two always surprises us. Nobody saw St Peters coming out as a 15 seed against Kentucky in the first round. That was dead and gone. And there they are in the Elite Eight so. We can predict all we want, at the end of the day, all of our brackets will probably be busted.

But let’s relate this to recruiting. You know, whole point of the show. Obviously Cam, I know you’ve seen some episodes of what we’ve done. So, let’s talk about recruiting for these types of schools. You mentioned that Gonzagas made their way up from a mid-major to that top five-10 team.

They probably recruit like some of these massive companies to do at this point, and people are throwing themselves at Coach Few to be there. Compare it to St Peters from last year, a 15 seed wins their conference. Nobody knows any of their players’ names until they get on the stage in March. How can we relate that to recruiting?

Yeah, that’s a good question. I mean, it’s definitely the big companies versus the smaller startups. And so when you think about it, those big companies, on paper should win 10 times out of 10. But of course, that’s why you play the games. They’re not going to win the 10 times out of 10.

And then now, kind of comparing the times. All of a sudden, all of these chalk teams, all of these blue blood teams have actually faltered a little bit on the tech side. So think about all these FAANG companies or MAANG companies, however you like to phrase it, they’ve all taken a hit.

I know Meta today announced some layoffs so. With that, the talent’s going to leave those bigger companies and go to some of these smaller startups. And I think a lot of new products and companies are going to come out of some of these challenges too.

And to kind of stem from that, I mean, yeah, we’re looking at the Sales Forces, the Metas, you know, some of these bigger companies that have unfortunately had to go through layoffs. People, and this isn’t everyone, and it’s kind of just the stigma. It kind of made me feel like a number. Just because there’s so many folks there where you go to more of a startup, mid type leveled team or company,

you might get more playing time, you might get more recognition. You might have an advancement platform. So kind of stemming that, like you might go to a Kentucky or Gonzaga and sit on the bench for three years. Or you go to a coastal Carolina, you go to Oral Roberts, St Peter’s, and you end up playing year one, maybe even year two at the latest. So, you know, there’s that similarity, but when it comes to, let me flip it back to you. If you’re a candidate, how would you go about vetting someone that maybe on paper doesn’t meet a role exactly, but you actually think just after talking with them that they could be a fit, like, how do you decipher that?

Yeah, that’s a great question. It’s like, you want to bring someone on that can handle the build. So it makes me think of some of these players over the years, like think about like the Wally Szczerbiak, out of Miami of Ohio. Much smaller school or even CJ McCollum coming out of Lehigh.

You know, that’s a really small school. I don’t know which school’s smaller. But regardless, it’s the same kind of thing. You’re going to be recruiting those players by telling them, “Hey, you’re the face of this program.” You’re going to have some lumps in the beginning. You’re going to have to also help us recruits.

And it’s kind of like you’re going to be wearing a lot of different hats. Like what does it take to actually win? Does CJ McCollum need to dish out 15 assists? Probably not in that instance. But, he may have to dish out five to seven and drop 20 to 25 a game to make it work. So, I think it takes a lot of courage, to do that.

And you’re not going to have the resources or the facilities of these bigger companies. And I think that also is going to be a lot more difficult to kind of navigate and kind of work through. So, for all of those, you have the Carmelo Anthony’s of the world that were at Syracuse or some of these bigger schools that can just attract the top talent.

It’s almost obvious that these teams will not only make the tournament, but make some sort of a run. I think the easiest comparison from a corporate side is, you look at these bigger corporations and corporate recruiting versus the smaller companies who inevitably go through people like Louie and I, in the agency side from the lower, smaller startup company.

These are more impact hires. They don’t have the resources, like you said, and they’re going to be doing a lot more, most likely, even if it might be the same title. And so they really have to make sure they get it right. And a lot of the times that’s why these smaller companies will come to people in an agency setting like us cause they’re looking to really make sure they make that right hire.

While corporate recruiting. We’ve all been in corporate recruiting as well, so you know that a lot of the times these companies can put a job posting out there and just sit and wait for applications to roll in and kind of get their pick of the litter of who’s available. So, love to give the viewers a little more insight into your background and kind of what you’re doing these days for HiveWatch, while we’re at it. Yeah, absolutely. So I’m heading up a talent acquisition for HiveWatch and I’ve been on the agency side and did that for quite a few years and then moved into in-house, when I went to Verizon back in 2015. So, for me, I’ve seen both sides of the coin and both have their pros and cons, but for me it’s really all about being able to sell a brand that you’re a part of and on the in-house side, I think you’re able to kind of pull people from different companies you’ve worked at and different times in your life. Maybe someone you went to college with, maybe someone who’s friends with friend.

But I think just being that person that people can rely on and you can be pretty forthright about what’s going on, especially when it’s a startup situation. You got to be completely honest about the good, the bad and everything in between. And I think we’re doing things the right way at HiveWatch. And really looking for those people that can not only make an impact, but want to also impact their careers and kind of writing their own ticket.

Because, as you know, when you join an early stage startup, you could be in IC early on and then all of a sudden, you know, be one of those executives at the company down the road. And I’ve been at a company that actually got acquired a couple years ago as a cybersecurity company here in LA and it was the biggest SaaS exit in LA Tech history.

And I think, we could probably do even better. And that was close to a billion dollar acquisition. Of course, with everything going on in the market right now, you know, pretty challenging to get that sort of valuation. But I think everything is cyclical.

I’ve seen the market up. I’ve seen the market down. I was even working in the late 2000’s when we had that 08, 09 financial crisis. And so I think, just seeing the big picture really helps to kind of navigate these challenges just like Covid, couple years ago.

Yeah. Do you have any secret sauce or like a special tip for trying to get HiveWatch from that mid-major up to that bigger company? What’s your goal for the leap you’re about to make? Yeah, so I think it’s always about what it took to get to series A. From series A to series B is not going to be the same from series C to series D.

And so I was at a series C company that ended up getting acquired. And so this is my first time going from A to B. So it’s almost like, we’re learning as we go. But at the same time, I think the most important thing is, people that just genuinely want to support the mission.

And I think our mission is pretty awesome. It’s keeping people safe. And so our software does exactly that. It’s physical security software that kind of helps these security teams located in security operation centers become more efficient. So, they’re not chasing their tails and they can actually make sure to keep people safe and just know exactly what’s going on.

Love that. Awesome. Well, you know, it’s always easy to run over time with two people joining us, instead of the typical one for one. So we’ll jump into, Cam, what we call our two minute drill to end the day. Who’s everyone picking to win the tournament this year? I’ll jump in first. I might as well.

I have two brackets. Kansas winning one over Alabama. Weird to see them. You know, normally we’re thinking football. And then I have Gonzaga beating Purdue in the other bracket, so see how long I can keep that before that’s washed. Yeah, a lot different than my bracket, but kind of similar. So, I do have Alabama in the finals.

Personally I have Alabama in a pool, and a futures bet, but I had to kind of hedge my bet a little bit here. So I’m going Alabama and Houston in the finals. Houston winning it all. And then my final four being Alabama, Houston, Duke, and UCLA. So yeah. I think again, a lot of chalk here, this year.

I rode the UCLA bandwagon last year. I was hopeful with them this year, but that torn achilles, on one of their starters, definitely hurts. So I’m rolling with Gonzaga this year. I think having the heat off of them, not as the number one seed, and Drew Timmy’s last year at Gonzaga might make for some exciting March magic, so.

Well Cam, thank you so much for joining us today. It’s been a pleasure having you as our inaugural non-Hirewell guest. We hope you got as much out of that, as we got out of it. On behalf of Louie, Cam, and myself, thank you so much for tuning into the Hirewell Hot Corner. Join us again in two weeks for our next episode.

And as always, stay classy LinkedIn. Thanks y’all. See ya.

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