News & Views
A response to Peter's post : Focus Focus Focus..... Finish

You don't work in Applicant Tracking Solutions for as long as I have and not know Peter Gold  - and whilst he might not like to be referred to as such, he's definitely one of the elder statesman of Recruitment Technology (although knowing Peter he probably cares more that you remember / know of him than referrencing just how many blocks he's been around). Anyway - I personally really like his style of writing (which is actually very much a fair representation of "his style") and the challenge laced with insight that he brings, but whilst the following article had me really wanting to reply I was unfortunately restricted by the character limit of LinkedIn post comment facility. Yeh yeh, of course I could have gone to ChatGPT and asked it to shrink my response, but I just felt 1,250 characters stripped away too much... so... the beauty of having access to a blog facility of your own is you can post it up here and direct people to it... which is what this is. 


Focus Focus Focus..... Finish

(original article from Peter Gold here

If you sell to everyone, you sell to no one.

If you've been following my last few months of posts you'll know that I've been training for Badlands 2023, a very tough gravel race in the Granada area of Spain. Last week was the actual event.

17,000+m 750+km 300+ riders 5 days

And I finished!!

It took me 121 hours vs. 38 hours for the winner. But I had much more fun, ate much more real food and had way more sleep than the winner. But it was still tough. Far tougher than I had expected but thankfully, I was well prepared both physically and mentally for whatever happened. There were a few challenges to overcome:

    •    Times when I could have easily stopped.

    •    Times when I could have called a taxi.

    •    Times when I could have taken a day off.

But my focused preparation ensured none of these things were required. They didn't even enter my head. Not this time.

Focus is everything

The number one reason why I was able to endure, enjoy and finish Badlands is that my training and preparation had been 100% focused on this one event. Nothing else. Every ride, every trip I did, was aligned with my preparation for Badlands. There was nowhere to hide. Finish or fail.

Where tech vendors fail

This is why so many technology vendors fail. They do NOT have 100% focus. No matter what they think. They spread their "focus" across too many different things. They try and be too many things for too many people.

    •    We sell to SMB, SME and Enterprise.

    •    We are CRM, ATS and Onboarding.

    •    We are high volume, low volume and niche.

Where did Amazon start? Books. Only books. Nothing but books.

It's not like it's some crazy new weird idea to have a single focus. It's the same in business and sports. You want to be the best; focus, become an expert in one domain, and dominate your space.

I have no idea

Why don't vendors focus? Why don't they pick a single product rather than 3 or 4 or 5? I guess it's fear of failure. Yet by refusing to focus they fail anyway. Makes no sense.

Happy cycling.


My Reponse : 

Huge respect for the completion, Peter. Another tick in a very impressive list of man vs. just about any challenge. But I wanna challenge back a little myself. 

Now I fully get the sentiment of your post, as always very engaging and compelling, but whilst you can of course focus on a single component, I’d suggest there’s also a place for companies who can offer something much more akin to a one-stop-shop… particularly for platforms that can provide effective integrations so that purchasers can effectively pick and choose aspects that they might decide they want something beyond the core functionality.

I remember a Mercedes my parents bought many many years ago. Pretty much at the ‘entry level’ end of the spectrum .. very “boxy” and functional… and I don’t think they had anything other than the most basic fit-out - apart from a tow bar. It towed the family caravan many miles with efficiency and adequate (if slightly rigid) comfort, whilst also being economical on any day-to-day family in the 1980's needs. And I remember that the radio and cassette player being particularly “standard offer”, which I personally wasn't very chuffed about. I mean how could I enjoy Nik Kershaw fully without being able to control the bass / treble - but it worked and fulfilled the brief. And (I’m reliably informed) the car held its value pretty well even with those summer caravaning miles under its cambelt. 

Now I am the furthest thing from a petrol head, but I do not doubt there were, even back in the 80s, hundreds if not thousands of constituent parts from “product specialists” that went into the end product. But Mercedes combined those under the hood and within the passenger compartment and gave us a quality product that offered everything my parents required… with a list of trims, colours, boosts and add-ons that I do not doubt could have doubled the price of the car, but all my parents wanted was bog-standard with a tow bar… even though a Mercedes bog-standard really wasn’t / isn’t (to most people anyway).

So back to cycling. It may well be that you’ve spent many hundreds of pounds pulling together your bike setup (let’s be honest, probably thousands… but in case Mrs Gold comes across any of your articles let’s go with hundreds ;), but for most of us what we really want is something that comes “ready to do the job we require of it”. TBH, I’ve cycled a few miles over the years (although nowhere close to your level… but I’d wager I probably sit somewhere in the higher mean between serious cyclists and MAMILs to people who can think of nothing worse than even risking getting saddle sore) and generally I’ve found somewhere like a Halfords or Evans does me fine. 

And here’s the other thing… you and I both know that what saw you complete that wasn’t the kit you used. Not really. I mean sure it helped, but it’s the effort you put in personally (which I know you also allude to in your post). Much like if I gave my trusty hybrid bike (pre-dates my daughter, who’s now second year in uni :-| ) and a backpack full of camping kit to Mark Cavendish , he’d be pushing closer to the 38 hours timing than the 121.  

So in answer to your questions : Why don't vendors focus? Why don't they pick a single product rather than 3 or 4 or 5? 

Maybe it’s more about being desperate to succeed than fearing failure… if indeed there’s any difference between… but unless you’ve gone all-in early on "BS Bingo" and got yourself a big ole pot of investors cash to burn through in the hope that someone buys you before the reality of your lack of a sustainable model comes home to roost, then you’ve actually gotta put bread on the table (metaphorically and literally).

But more importantly than that, it’s because for many people they want a bike, not a NASA inspired self-propelled bi-wheeled vehicle they’ve pulled together based off of their years of hard learned experience and substantial trial and error. And they wanna go for a spin at the weekend - or back and forth to the office / station a mile or 3 away - not 5 days of self-sustaining backtrail gravel battle. But if I do put in the effort and start to get the bug, at least I know my trusty “does what it says on the tin” bike will accommodate me upgrading component by component as I grow in confidence and experience.  


Response / post by Alex Hens