Shane Feldman is the former Founder and CEO of Count Me In, an organization built as an entrepreneurship incubator to promote and uplift aspiring business owners. Now, Shane is my new chief of staff here at Brandon Green Chapter 2 Ventures.
This is an opportunity I’ve been thinking about creating for quite a long time. If you’ve been following the content of our journey, I’m sure you’ve noticed we’ve really increased the offerings we have out in the world, such as doing more with wealth-building. Frankly, we’ve got enough going on, and it was time to bring somebody in to help us.
I believe that investing in people is the best investment you can make in business and life, and I’m super excited to have Shane join us. Being a world traveler and highly sought-after consultant, Shane’s work spans several companies and industries, which is why he’ll be a great, important addition to the team as we continue to build our community.
Brandon Green: So, Shane, welcome, and thanks for being here. Let’s start by giving us a little of your background. Who are you? Where are you from? What’s going on?
Shane Feldman: I’m from Toronto, Canada, born and raised. Although I spent a lot of time living in all kinds of other places. I spent some time in the Midwest United States, some time in Los Angeles, and then a nice nomadic chapter out in Asia, as well as some other really cool parts of the world.
I’ve spent the better part of the last decade running the organization Count Me In which is a social enterprise and entrepreneurship incubator for high school and college students. It’s an organization that’s all about inspiring and training the next generation of community-minded leaders and entrepreneurs. I was kind of an accidental entrepreneur myself.
The first business I started, I think, when I was eleven or twelve years old. I started editing people’s videos for fun, then I was charging them. It wasn’t so much entrepreneurship. It wasn’t a buzzword fifteen, twenty years ago. It was just this way I was trying to get scrappy and make some money. At the time, I was too young to get a job where I was living. You had to be 16 to actually get a job anywhere. So, at twelve, thirteen years old, I had to get creative. If I wanted to buy a shirt—I wasn’t raised in a family where we had spare money to go shopping whenever I wanted—I had to earn money myself if I wanted to do certain things. So that was kind of my gateway into this entrepreneurial world.
BG: So, for you, what does it mean to be an entrepreneur? I think this idea of defining oneself as an entrepreneur is a very personal thing. As you think about that, what comes to mind? How would you define that for yourself?
SF: For me, entrepreneurs are leaders who solve problems. I think that’s as simple as I can make it because there are so many different kinds of entrepreneurs doing all sorts of different, creative, incredible things out there in the world. But to me, any successful one is just a good leader who’s solving problems.
BG: And what problem do you feel like you’ve been solving over the last several years?
SF: Hmm…Over the last several years? I feel like we’ve been solving a problem of a gap. There’s this void between the traditional curriculum provided in schools, particularly in North America. But also, in countries around the world, there’s this lack of connection to community and to more tangible, experiential learning opportunities.
So, that’s really where Count Me In comes into play as an organization. They run all sorts of things. From school tours to curriculum addendum programs, to leadership summits, and coaching programs helping students gain that experiential knowledge, internship, and volunteer-type learning. It’s about stretching outside of the classroom to learn and grow in new, creative, entrepreneurial ways.
BG: Well, I love what you’ve done with Count Me In, and if anybody’s interested in a fantastic interview, you should Google Shane Feldman and Larry King. You had a really interesting opportunity to sit down with him. And I thought he did a beautiful job of pulling forward all the great work that you’ve done at Count Me In.
SF: He’s a phenomenal interviewer and certainly the greatest I have ever had the privilege of sitting down with.
BG: Now, as we look forward to the future and you imagine your world over the next few years, and (obviously) this opportunity in the context of solving problems, what problem do you want to solve now?
SF: What’s interesting is that I think in addition to being really excited about, of course, all the work that you’re doing, that we’re doing, I think a fundamental challenge I’m tackling internally is that I have for quite some time not been in my core essence as a leader, as an entrepreneur.
Looking out there at the world, I think there are three types of people you fit into one of three buckets. You are either a creator, you’re a connector, or you’re a capitalist. We need all three of these to function as a society. The creators are the visionaries, people like you with big ideas and big visions that are out there leading the charge and creating all kinds of amazing content.
They’re the creative visionaries.
Then we have the connectors. These are the managers, the leaders that are really the relationship-builders, and then we have the capitalists. Those are the risk-takers, the ones that just want to start and sell businesses. Most people very much fit into one of these core buckets. We have all three of them in us, but there’s one that’s our core essence and I kind of fell into the creator bucket for the last several years. It’s where I ended up accidentally founding this organization and starting Count Me In more than a decade ago. I have been filling this creative role. But it actually took me going on sabbatical a few years ago to realize that it’s not me. It’s not what I’m here to do. It’s not what fills me up inside. It’s exhausting.
I am much more of a connector. I love people. I love working with people. I love building relationships and helping to lead and manage growth within organizations. I’ve been doing tons of consulting work over the last three years that is entirely focused on that. That’s been what’s filling me up inside and it’s when I realized it was time for a new adventure. Because the only problem with consulting is that you pour your heart and soul, all your ideas, into this amazing organization or project, and then you leave three weeks or three months later. For me, this next chapter is giving myself the opportunity to give my all to a new project that’s more aligned with my connector essence.
BG: Now, I know that if anybody took the time to look up your background and listen to this interview, they would all agree with me that you are a very talented and compelling guy and going places. So, I think anybody would want to have you on their team. For people that are trying to hire a “Shane Feldman” and they’re thinking about bringing on a talented person, what was it that drew you to this opportunity? What made you say yes to this opportunity that somebody could take back to their organization and maybe be able to bring in a talented guy like you as well?
SF: I think it’s important to say right off the bat, I had several other opportunities that came my way over the last year as I was looking for my next adventure and I turned down all of them until this one. I think the first thing is making sure that you are searching for a value-aligned candidate. Because as a candidate, I want an organization. Don’t we all want organizations that we feel aligned with, where we feel there is a sense of belonging and a future? It’s filling that personal void instead of just getting a check every couple of weeks. I think that’s number one. You really need to recruit and interview from that value alignment focus because skills can be trained. You know, you can give people the real expertise they need on the job if they’re showing up with enough know-how, teachability, and ability. But you can’t train for passion. You can’t train for value alignment.
BG: So, somebody should be thinking about ensuring that they’re aligned with their candidate. From a value standpoint, what else would you say?
SF: I think it’s really important to have a good idea of…if this the next step in this person’s career. Does this make sense? Because on paper if you’re looking at it and you don’t get that in the timeline of this person’s life, this makes sense, then that should be a red flag. I also would say that you don’t want to skimp on the way that you’re actually recruiting.
For us, we were introduced by a mutual friend, and I think that went a long way, certainly for me. Because there was trust right off the bat. If you’re just putting an application out there and hoping that LinkedIn application is going to find you, that A-level, perfect candidate, it may not always happen especially for this level of role. I would say, just like if you were to launch a new product, you want to tap into your network. You want to reach out to everyone you know, like, and trust. You also don’t want to only do that when you are hiring in the first place. You should always want to be building that network, that pool of candidates, so when it is time for you to find that role, you already have maybe ten or twelve people you can call up and say, “Hey, we have this opening. I think you might be perfect for it.
BG: Some great tips. I really agree with you on this whole “does it make sense?” aspect. I’ve done this and made this mistake many times where I’ve hired someone that I liked. But objectively, if I looked at it, I was either hiring above or below their trajectory which generally doesn’t work out so well. So, does it make sense? If the values align and the job is something that somebody could do and you get the finances right, it’s good to just step back for a minute, and look at this person in their background, what they like, where they’re going, and ask is this the next logical step?
SF: Otherwise, you may have just found your new best friend.
BG: You may have.
SF: May not be the best candidate for this job.
BG: Or you may have found a great candidate for later or you may have found a great candidate for a different role or different opportunity or different organization. This process is really rewarding, and I’ve teed up a lot of other talented people for other things of the future.
SF: And you keep those people in the pool so that when it’s the right time, they’re there.
BG: Exactly. Expands the pool. Alright, so let’s have a couple of fun, fast questions and then we’ll move on. First one is a bucket list destination and why. You’re well-traveled so this might be difficult.
SF: 28 countries and counting. But New Zealand has been a golden dream destination for a very long time. And I’ve never made it down under. So, yeah, New Zealand still ranks for me.
BG: Me either. I would love to go to New Zealand. The next is “fill in the gap.” You would never find me at [fill in the blank].
SF: You’ll never find me at a steakhouse. I’m currently mostly vegetarian.
BG: I didn’t know that. That didn’t come up in the interview, incidentally. Here’s another one. I almost always…[blank].
SF: I almost always start my day working out and reading before I turn on my phone.
BG: Ok, cool, cool. And then the final one is “Five years from now, I hope, to…”
SF: Five years from now, I hope to have scaled the Brandon Green brand tenfold, perhaps while living in New Zealand.
BG: All right. Nicely done. Nicely done. Well Shane, so excited to have you as part of the organization and part of our community. Can’t wait to get going. I mean, we did today, and we’ve got quite a list of things to accomplish, and I look forward to having your talents on all the stuff that we’ve got going. Glad you’re here.
SF: Excited to be here.
BG: All right, folks, we’ll see you later.