Conversation with BJ Jacobs of Guardian Direct

Lead Recruiter, Eline Janssens sat down with BJ Jacobs of Guardian Direct to dive into his learnings over the first six months as their new Head of Growth.

After helping to place BJ in late 2020, Eline asks BJ not only about his tenure at Guardian direct but also the path that brought him to his new role.

In the clip below, BJ discusses his time working with Ruckus through the hiring process, and what parts of the Ruckus experience made the biggest difference for him.

To learn more about BJ’s experience, and what he’s doing at Guardian Direct, watch the full video below.

Read the Full Transcript

Eline Janssens (00:02):
All right. Cool. So I got BJ Jacobs here on my zoom. BJ is the Head of Growth at Guardian Direct and I was honored to place him there a couple of months ago. So BJ, tell me a little bit more, what was the start day? How are your first months going there?

BJ Jacobs (00:20):
It’s already been almost six months, which seems hard. I know, it flies. I started I started in October and halfway, halfway through year one, I think, pretty coming half on.

Eline Janssens (00:33):
Wow. This is crazy. Like during those six months, this is like, almost like this half year as I can’t believe it. Can you give like one success story or any learning that you experienced during your first six months on the new team?

BJ Jacobs (00:47):
Sure. I think, you know, the, I, I had a candidate as we’re kind of trying to build out the growth team asking the same question. I just thought it was such a great question to kind of take a step back and reflect. I think some of the biggest wins have been thinking of insurance, which is the product that we bring to market, primarily dental insurance. Beginning to kind of think a little bit more like an e-commerce marketer rather than an insurance marketer. And how can we take some of the things that have worked in my past kind of selling physical goods? Or shirts or beauty products or some of my past and said, Hey, does urgency work? Can we talk about kind of the end of month upside to insurance? Or how do we begin to speak to customers about insurance as a product rather than an idea? Those are some of the biggest wins.

Eline Janssens (01:41):
Yeah. Interesting. So also like thinking about what you’ve been doing before, like it’s an incredibly hot job market. Like these recruiter, we, we know everything about it, but what drew you to all the gigs that you choose to work with? Like what was the main factor that you said like, okay, I’m going for this gig?

BJ Jacobs (01:59):
I think I’ve always been really energized by the team or the hiring manager articulating the problem. That a role is meant to solve. So Hey, you know, we see this huge opportunity to solve, and this is why we created the goal. You know, we have achieved amazing success and we have really huge kind of growth aspirations. We really want to focus on dental. This is on tap. This is a market that we haven’t spoken to as an industry, but we think Guardian Direct is specifically suited to do it or before Guardian, I was at By Heart, which is an infant formula startup that recently launched yeah. And a year half ago. So really quite excited for the team at, By Heart. But, you know, meeting with the founders, this is the problem we’re trying to solve. We haven’t done best by babies and yeah, it’s a crazy category and we can do best by baby. And this is, this is the problem we wanna solve. So I’ve always been really drawn to roles where founders articulate the problem and I see the problem that they’re trying to solve too, you know?

Eline Janssens (03:05):
Yeah, yeah, yeah.

BJ Jacobs (03:06):
A lot of times you hear these problems, like, is that really a problem or do you really have the solution to solve it? But in selecting kind of what was next for me in my career hearing it articulated well, and then being able to understand the solution that was within reach. Cause it has been really important to me.

Eline Janssens (03:27):
Yeah. Yeah. You take a lot already. My next question, like before you were working in a, a pretty niche industry, I guess like infant’s nutrition. So was it, was there some kind of change in strategy, like now working for an insurance/tech company, like Guardian Direct, what were the biggest differences?

BJ Jacobs (03:45):
Yeah, I’ve actually been noticing more similarities than differences as I start this work. So both really regulated fields, different governing bodies, of course. Infant formula is highly regulated by the FDA, insurance by regulators. And we have to work within those guidelines and those guidelines are there to protect consumers and that’s yeah. You know, what we want to do. So starting to see some of those synergies and also Guardian Direct serves a population that looks, you know, very different from each, each kind of person that buys our insurance. The only thing that unifies them is they’re not served by employers. So this could be an independent contractor, that’s a recruiter or an independent contractor, that’s a consultant during their own business or somebody who just like loves the idea of going from warehouse to warehouse as a warehouse employee.

BJ Jacobs (04:45):
They all look very different across the country, just like By Heart. You know, we served parents, parents all look different and we would always say parenting isn’t linear, just like careers, aren’t linear. And we’re trying to jump in as people make these decisions about their career. So I’ve seen, I’ve noticed a lot more similarity than I’ve expected. There’re also high consideration, high education need products. So, is this the right thing for me? Does the math make sense? Is this the right thing for my baby? Is this the right? You know, like it’s not these aren’t like luxury products. They’re like, ah, you know, okay. Sounds fun. You know, I have a couple bucks in my pocket, I’m gonna try that. You know, that really cool skincare product or Hey, like that’s a nice shirt. I’m going to buy that. Yeah. Like we’re not thinking about these and pondering these decisions for nearly as long as we are insurance or infant formula. So I’ve seen okay. A lot of similarity actually.

Eline Janssens (05:42):
Good, interesting, nice, nice lesson. Cool. BJ, I’m not sure if you were talking with other recruiters the moment that, that we placed you, but about the Ruckus experience, like we love to hear what made Ruckus maybe different or your overall experience with working with us as a last question.

BJ Jacobs (06:04):
Sure, so not, not surprising, I’m sure. But you know, in, in Growth, in Performance marketing, in Direct to Consumer marketing, there’s never an endless supply of kind of folks sitting in your LinkedIn inbox. I think the Ruckus experience is we had a real relationship Anish and I have been kind of bouncing ideas off each other and connecting with one another for years before we even started talking about a role. So, you know, when you and I connected, I know Ruckus and I know that they speak my language, everybody that works with Ruckus understands growth, and performance, and D to C marketing in a way that I don’t think every recruiter does. They certainly don’t understand, you know, kind of the amazing things that come in being in a founder led organization and some of the challenges that come being in a founder led organization, which I think we had really honest and open feedback with one another about, you know, this role versus some of my past roles.

BJ Jacobs (07:07):
And what did I love about kind of being in big orgs at the beginning of my career. And Hey, this offers a lot of those and yes, it, you know, there, there are some real upsides to being in high growth, founder-led orgs, but I think Ruckus A) was a known entity, and B) speaks my language and like also really said, Hey, we specialize in this. So if this isn’t the right role for you, maybe another one will come up, so we’re not gonna try to fit around a, in a square hole. So I think there’s motivation to kind of think candidate first, because you know, that there’s a pipeline of other jobs that will be the right fit for that person. And I don’t know if every recruiter kind of comes to the table that way, they say, Hey, the one job in your space that I am going be working and…

Eline Janssens (07:57):
I want to hire you for that job.

BJ Jacobs (07:59):
Exactly. Yeah, yeah, yeah. And we were open, we were able to have like real conversations about why it was, or wasn’t the right opportunity for me, which I think is unique.

Eline Janssens (08:08):
Amazing heartwarming. Okay. That was it. BJ. Thank you so much. It was nice to see you again after six months, you know, it’s how time flies. I need to come to New York it’s on the planning. We will…

BJ Jacobs (08:21):
Argentina sounds more fun for me!

Eline Janssens (08:23):
Yeah, maybe. Yeah, probably the meat and the wine is better here, but anyway we’ll meet soon. Thank you so much, BJ. Yeah, best of luck and awesome. In many years you will be sitting at Guardian Direct, so, bye bye. Take care. Bye.

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