Over at Talk of the Trade, to kick off 2022, we interviewed Sam Jacobs about how he got to where he is today. Sam is the host of the Sales Hacker Podcast and founder of Pavilion, a career community that is fast taking over the world.
In the wide-ranging interview, Sam shared stories of how failures and firings helped spur him to begin a phenomenon that is now one of his greatest successes. Here are a few key takeaways from the conversation:
Every Job is a Bet
Before starting Pavilion (originally known as Revenue Collective), Sam climbed the ladder of sales and marketing at various start-ups. Once he got into the C-Suite, he discovered that each position was something of a bet. He was putting all his chips in one basket that the company had a future and that he would be there in the long-haul.
Unfortunately, life in the C-Suite comes with more risk. After losing a few jobs (and leaving some, too), Sam realized he needed to find a way to diversify his portfolio. That’s when he began to think about turning Pavilion into his side hustle.
Real Connection is Meaningful
Somewhere between losing one CRO job and leaving another, Sam started a dinner club with friends in similar careers. At that point, his only goal was commiseration. He wanted to meet regularly with people facing similar obstacles in their day-to-day so that they could all learn from each other. As a side benefit, this led to a stronger network as they recommended each other into organizations.
Sam realized that this first iteration of Revenue Collective provided real, human connection – and that there was value there. To make it more formal, he recruited a few sponsors and started charging dues. Even as this grew into the worldwide network that is now Pavilion, Sam knew to always prioritize that human connection. He emphasizes Pavilion’s values of kindness, giving, and paying it forward as reasons that members are committed to the community.
Pick a Business Model and Stick With It
Since Sam knows the power of Pavilion is in the true connections between like-minded individuals, he made a choice early on not to follow the standard community business model. For example, many similar communities sell advertisement spots or take commissions for introducing members to recruiters. While this type of cashflow can be tempting in the short-term, Sam has always believed it would dilute the value of Pavilion in the long-term.
Instead, he focused on making Pavilion a place so valued that members would continue to pay to belong. He prioritizes recognizing members who help each other, enforcing the code of conduct to make sure members have positive experiences, and expanding the offerings to include learning opportunities so that members continue to derive value even after hitting their initial career goals.
In addition to these three themes, Sam shared more stories about what failure felt like, how he gets inspiration, and his plans for growing Pavilion in the next eighteen months. This podcast episode is a must-listen for anyone thinking about starting or scaling their side hustle.