We’re kicking off 2021 on Career Crashers by diving into a series focused on how working in service industry can help you learn the soft skills to thrive in a startup that lead to professional success.
When you’re at the cash register, you have to be interacting. So, through that, I learned how to carry a conversation, which was a big thing, because especially at a coffee shop, your main goal is to turn one-time-customers into regulars.
Kasen Wysong shares his experience working at a cafe and how it helped him develop soft skills that led to professional success and still serve him in his marketing role at Vicinity Capital.
“As much as you don’t want to be a cog in the machine, most companies don’t want that either. They want someone who’s got ideas and character.”
Joel and Kasen also talk about how Kasen ran his job hunt earlier in 2020 and how he found a great opportunity using Crash.
Here are some quick links to the show:
P.S. Don’t forget to give the show five stars (or six)! 😉
Welcome to Career Crashers, where we tell the stories of those who are not content to wait around following rules and hoping for good things to happen. Great careers are found. They’re forged.
It’s time to crash the party.
Hey, Career Crashers audience. Welcome to 2021. This is Joel from Crash, we are thrilled to kick off the year. And this month in particular, we are going to be highlighting this possibility of leveraging your past experience your soft skills into a tech role to launch your career and find professional success potentially from industries such as food and beverage. If you are working in this, you know, this 2021 world in the restaurant business, the food and beverage industry has been taking a hit and we’re thinking about hey, if you’re looking to, to empower yourself and leverage a new career, you can totally do that.
There’s a lot of companies out there who would love to work with someone who has the soft skills that are that are getting developed in these industries, the the hustle the the customer service, the work ethic, all that good stuff.
So we’re gonna be talking in this month with a few folks about their experience working in that industry. And then eventually we’re moving into to the startup world into the business world and the tech business world that is, and I’m so excited today to be joined by Kasen Wysong. Did I say that right?
Yeah, you did nailed it.
Awesome. Kasen is digital marketer, and content creator at Viinity Capital. And he’s also a Crash user, he pitched his way into his role earlier in 2020. He’s pitched several companies and he can vouch for his experience in gaining professional success. And he’s going to talk about working in a coffee shop when he was in college, and how that got him started into his career. So welcome Kasen.
Hey, thanks so much, Joel. Glad to be here.
Yeah, my pleasure. And let’s start there with your experience, you’re working at a coffee shop. We’d love for you to flesh out what soft skills you develop there and how you then ended up leveraging that and pitching your way into a an internship at a startup and working in sales, marketing and customer service and growing your professional success.
And conveying the Hey, I have these soft skills. I’m worth betting on for that reason. So tell us tell us some maybe maybe a story or two about what you learned and experience working in the coffee shop and what soft skills you might have picked up?
Yeah, absolutely. First off, I’ll say that working in a coffee shop is something I highly recommend to everybody. It was a fun job. And I got it, I was fortunate to work in a what’s called like a third wave coffee shop. So specialty coffee, and it was a counterculture account. So really big fan of coffee, if you can’t tell.
But yeah, you know, I would say from from working there, I man the cash register a lot, I did man the espresso machine as well. And that was interesting, because you could just kind of go into your own world and not really deal with customers. But when you’re at the cash register, you have to be interacting. And so through that, I learned how to carry a conversation, which was a big thing in my professional success, especially when at a coffee shop, your main goal is to get regulars.
So you want people that are coming in repeatedly, not just once but you know, they’re coming in daily for they’re there, they’re picking me up. So in order to do that, you kind of have to break the ice with them. And so one of the things I picked up was just noting something unique about them, it could be like an earring, cool sheet, t shirt design something like that. Then just trying to have a conversation with them either about that, like ask a question or, you know, maybe just see how they’re doing ask have a friendly, like, hey, how was your day type of thing.
And so, through that, I think I learned how to one you have to be polite, but also communicative. Then it was it was a little spur to, to be generous and to aim to please the guests, which is kind of your ultimate goal. And that, you know, to me translated directly into my professional success with working in customer success, where where really what you’re trying to do is to make sure a partner is is happy with the services and that they’re coming back on a continual basis because of the relationship that you’re building with them.
So that’s how I viewed my coffee shop work, at least in retrospect how I viewed it is, you know, I was trying very hard to build relationship with guests. And a lot of that was through conversation. What I used to facilitate that was kind of unique characteristics about them. And one of my favorite stories was, there was this older gentleman who would come in every Tuesday morning, and he would order a just drip coffee for himself and a croissant for his four year old son, and then they would go and sit at a table.
Every Tuesday morning, I made sure and played Elton John’s music because he was a big fan of Elton John. So I’d have on like Rocket Man, and just some classics. And you know, the, the older gentlemen really appreciated that. And over time, we, we kind of built a relationship. So you know, that was just kind of a cool example of somebody who was a regular at the coffee shop I worked at.
Awesome, so connect the dots here. You develop these, these awesome skills and empathy and building relationships and breaking the ice. And then you were working here through college, and eventually you got a couple of internships, but it wasn’t college that got you the internship and professional success, right?
It wasn’t those credentials, it was actually your persistence, and selling, selling these companies on your ability to, to create value and to, to hustle that led to professional success. So walk us through the process. I mean, back then you didn’t have Crash or you you were using the resume, but, um, walk us through that process of getting those internships.
Yeah, I was using that which must not be named on a Crash podcast. But uh, it was definitely not due to my college experience that I got my internship and professional success. Basically, my strategy was to bug the startup that I wanted to work at to death until they create an internship role for me.
So it was about a 20, 25 person company, they had a cool website. And like, there was like, this one paragraph, or they were like we have, we have beer on tap, and cold brew, unlimited cold brew and stuff. And I was like, Oh, I want to work here. So like, that’s what drew me, right, because I didn’t know what I was doing. And so I reached out to one of their sales guys. Actually, what I did was I went on their website, and in their little chat pop up, I was like, hey, do you have any, like internship roles available, I’d be interested in applying.
And one of their sales guys ended up emailing me back and was like, Hey, you know, no, it was kind of a transitional phase for us, which I would come to learn is like, pretty, pretty constant for most startups. But he was like, you know, reach out again and in at the end of the year. So this was September. So what I did was I set a event in my Google calendar with a reminder. And so like December 15, or around that date, I ended up emailing this guy back and was like, hey, just want to follow up with you, you asked me to reach out, reach out to you at the end of the year.
That impressed him enough to the point where he was like, Whoa, like, I want, I want you on the team, basically. So he was like, let me spend the next few months creating this internship role for you. I want to have like, he told me, he was like, I want to have a clear idea of the value you’d be providing to the company and the value we’d be providing to you because I want this to be a two way street, where there’s definitely some give and take.
And so I was like, Yeah, that sounds great. You know, this was my senior year of college. I had proposed to my wife by this point, but really had zero. I mean, my major was in finance, but I had zero opportunities that I could see ahead of me other than this potential internship to have professional success. So I really wanted to nail it and was kind of all in, so to speak.
And, and by the way, prior to this, I really hadn’t given him too much info about myself, he was just going on the fact that hey, I had reached out and and in a sense, like hustled and then followed up with him. So I think he liked my tenacity and and just wanted that to be something in a team member. And so he was willing to go out on a limb and create a basically create a position for me.
Love that. And you mentioned tenacity, it’s like, it’s nothing to do with your past experience. It’s just, hey, you actually followed up at the end of December. And that’s sent a signal about what type of person you are your soft skills, communication, your organization and persistence and interest in the role and it’s like, it doesn’t matter who you are and your background when trying to find professional success in your career. As long as you just choose to empower yourself and say, I’m going to be that type of person.
And again, if you’re working in in food and beverage and you’re your waiter, you’re working, you know several tables at once and you’re, you’re you’re remembering every detail of an order for every every person on each table and, and you’re putting a smile on like all that takes that grit and that consistency.
I mean, there’s so much and you Just do the same thing to reach out to a company and say, Hey, I’m really interested in serving you. Right? And that’s what you did and you got yourself in. So it wasn’t really the resume that did it.
No, but and I love that you said grit. That’s one of my favorite words. It’s kind of one of those, those core words that I try and live by. And I think a lot of the things that I learned in the coffee shop, directly translated into the role, I assume, because it was kind of your traditional sales role where there was a lot of cold calling, and kind of that repetitive work.
And I would say, it took a lot of grit. But thankfully, like when you’re when you’re, you know, pumping out espresso and and you’re pulling shots, and, and throwing down latte art and stuff, like over and over and over again throughout the day, like sometimes it gets tedious. And so you do have to have that grit to find professional success. So there was a lot of different ways, actually, that the two roles kind of parallel to each other.
Yeah, yeah. 100%, like, you know, you’re you’re giving 100 shots of espresso in a given morning, and then you’re making 100 cold calls and a given morning, like, it’s all just repetition and consistency showing up. Like, it’s nothing to do with, again, the specific hard skill, per se, it’s, it’s, it’s really about the soft skills.
And so, you know, I’m reminded of Crash founder, Isaac. He hasn’t, he has a blog post called your your skills are more transferable than you think. Like, if you’re, if you’re changing careers, like like, I changed careers over the past year, totally different industries, like, just you just got to pause for a minute, like, what have I learned? Let’s reflect back where my past experiences.
Okay, I did that. Here’s a story, here’s a story, here’s what what did I gain from that, and it just takes a few minutes of pausing to literally just reflect and extract the skills that you gained, and realize, okay, I do have these skills, these soft skills, now let’s, how could I apply those and then you literally pitch that to a new company.
So tell us more about that, like, you’ve got your startup career grown and some professional success, going and growing. And you hopped on Crash. You know, as an early user, and you started pitching companies and and tell us about your mindset in in embodying theCrash process?
Oh, yeah, absolutely. And one thing I wanted to add was that, um, you know, in the restaurant industry. I think you really need to learn how to how to take you do learn how to take a beating. Most days, you know, whether you’re serving up drinks, or your waiter at a restaurant. Like, a lot of times, you have to deal with really rude customers. Or people who just, you know, they woke up on the wrong side of the bed.
And so you kind of take that emotional beating, as well as potentially a physical one. You know, because you’re on your feet all day, not like somebody is actually attacking you. But I think that helped translate into into professional success work as well, specifically, just because you need to be able to weather storms, both internally and externally within your company.
So whether you’re dealing with partners, or fellow team members, just being able to, in a sense, take that that verbal beating, that sometimes is inevitably going to come and then keep plugging away. So but yeah, as far as like the the Crash mindset, I basically knew that went, so what happened was, I had this job for about two years, and then COVID hit.
And the company was doing some pretty widespread layoffs. So I was unfortunately, one of those where they were like, Hey, you know, we’re sorry, but we have to, you know, you’re one of those being laid off. And so I had found Crash prior to this and was exploring them. I indirectly kind of knew Isaac and some of the stuff he had. He had started with Praxis. And so I was really interested in Crash. When I was reading through what they value, what they kind of preach, I was like, Yes, like, amen. This this is where it’s at.
So I knew exactly. I mean, because I would physically cringe and get depressed. Like straight up like depressed when I was looking through, Indeed, job list or whatever. Like, even when you filter the the Indeed or whatever. I don’t know, there’s some like job search sites out there. And it was just like these these roles that one I probably wasn’t qualified for when I looked at the minimum requirements, or thought I wasn’t qualified for.
So it was a it was a confidence blow. It was just depressing looking at like, some of these companies that just didn’t seem exciting. I felt like I’d be just a cog in the machine. And then Crash came along and was like, hey, there’s this whole new world in finding professional success where you know, you you read these stories about people working at Google or Apple or some of these exciting Silicon Valley beasts.
Well, like, you know, maybe you’re not over on the west coast. But guess what, there’s a bunch of startups in Charleston, South Carolina or wherever you are, Austin Texas. And, and so Crash was kind of like a doorway to the startups. Because what I did this is what I did was, I made a list of companies that I love. So on that list was places like Huck Berry, Harry’s just different companies that I thought were fantastic, Whoop, actually, pitch Whoop.
And then I went through, and I methodically researched these companies, like, who founded them, Why, what their mission is, so why they exist. Some of the values behind the companies, some of their best selling items or services, just very general info. And since these were a lot of companies that already liked, I had a general idea of what they did, and what their work atmosphere was like.
And I very rarely looked at their job listings, just because I was like, hey, like, you know, if that first company, I got a job that wasn’t because I went on their site and check their career page, because there was nothing. It was, it was because I had reached out to this guy, and he kind of created this role.
So I took that same mindset in my professional success. It was like, Alright, I’m just going to pitch them and pitch them with where the type of role that I want to work in. So mainly, I was marketing and customer success, were the two things where I was like, I’d be interested in doing either of these and kind of pitch them based on which I thought was, I would be a better fit for at whatever company it was, which is kind of odd. I know, usually you don’t fight a two front war, or try not to.
But that was kind of my my strategy. And so yeah. I just ended up doing some pretty cursory research. Trying to put together a video that was coherent, and was a good recap of like, who I am less than a minute long, just who I am, what I can bring to the table, and why they would want to hire me. Then I would go ahead and and just make these pitches. And through those pitches, I tried to convey my personality. And like, my interest, this interest just as much as who I am. Well, maybe not the interest in messages.
But you know, like, as much of who I am as I could in those short video clips. And I think that’s the beauty of Crash is that these are little videos. So they do get to see you. They see your expressions. They can hear your tone of voice. All of that and they know like your, because as much as you don’t want to just be a cog in the machine or or some kind of like robotic, you know, they just plug you in, and you go, they don’t want somebody who’s like that either.
Most companies don’t. They want somebody who’s going to come in, he’s got ideas and who’s got character. And that’s all so much easier to convey through a video than through, you know, the R word. So sorry, that was a long answer.
But it’s a great answer. I mean, it’s so awesome that you said, you only pick companies that you would love to work for and have professional success with, you know, he just started with that. And, you know, we’re always we’re always sending that message, that Crash, like just skip the companies that are not exciting to you.
Because it’s not only not going to be as great to work for and have professional success with a company that you don’t like, it’s also less effective. So less effective. Because when you create the video pitch, you want to look into that webcam, or you want to look into that camera, and say, Hey, I love your company, for this reason, that reason, and make it genuine like you, you can’t fake your smile, you don’t want to fake a smile.
And so it’s like it’s a win win. Because it’s, it’s you get the prospect of working for a company that you love. And that’s actually going to produce better results. But I’m but I’m curious about, you know, your mindset when actually got laid off. Because, you know, it’s a tough situation. You have this, you know, this, this unprecedented global situation in front of you. And then yeah, your job. Then all of a sudden, you got to get a new job, you know. It’s easy to I’m curious about your decision to pitch companies that weren’t officially hiring.
Because I think a lot of people will see that and like, well, I gotta I gotta get a job quickly. And this seems like a long shot. If they’re not advertising anything. I don’t want to spend time doing that. But it seems like your approach was actually the opposite. And just you weren’t even thinking about whether they had posting.
I think I would have taken it very personally, if not, for one, the context. Well, I think I did take it pretty personally. But like, how can you not, you know, to an extent. But at the same time, like I remembered, this goes back to some of the food and bad experience. I remember working at Chick Fil A at one point. And one of the it was like the first or second day I’ve worked there and I totally boggled some customers order. I remember that dude, just telling me like, I had messed it up. I really did.
And he told me, he was like, Well, you did a crappy job. I mean, you know, it was a little bit more colorful than that. But, um, you know, he said that, and it was like, my first or second day. And I mean, it just like, I felt like terrible, like, I’m quitting like, you know, but I guess like, like I was saying before you kind of learn to take a beating in food and beverage.
When I was working at the startup, initially, I took a beating from partners and stuff, and then you know, I was laid off. And that was really tough. And I would say, It rocks, my, my confidence, quite a bit not gonna lie. It was emotionally just very difficult. I have a wife and a toddler. So he’s like, he, at that time, he would have been just turned one year old, like, literally, he would have turned one year old.
And yeah, it was a lot of uncertainty. Uncertainty is pretty scary. And since I had felt like, I had kind of opted not to go the corporate route. My, my degree is in finance, and I just didn’t want to be part of that whole system. So you know, I chose in the startup path, and, and as a result of that, I felt like I was just questioning like, hey, like, Did I do the right thing? Should I have gone for something more stable, there was just a lot of questions.
And so during that time, I will say that I was in a pretty dark place, for sure. But something that that helped, actually was, was making that list of companies that I was excited about, that I really loved, because I could look at that. And I’d say it gave me hope, which was big, you need that. And then and then to it was going for walks just being out in nature.
So it might seem a little odd, but I think it’s a good way to just whatever you can do to kind of clear your mind. And, and just attack. The problem with just a clear mindset is really important. And not making emotional decisions. Like you don’t want to panic and then go apply at the first position you can get and get that job unless it’s just so happens to be the one you’ve like, been dreaming of. But you know, when does that happen?
So like, be deliberate, do your research, don’t panic, are some things I would say. And then also, Crash at the time actually really cool. They were small enough so that they had the Slack channel. And then Isaac actually reached out to me and I was just like, Hey, man, like, you know, I just, I’d be happy to hop on a call once a week until you get your job and just give you some some advice and stuff.
And it was the coolest thing in the world. Because it’s, it was just, it filled me with a lot more confidence. I felt like I wasn’t alone, which is somewhere you can easily go I mean, I was married, had a kid and still kind of felt like, oh, shoot, you know, I got cut loose from this company. Just questioning my worth because of that. And so just having fellow Crashers on the Slack channel is really cool, you get to hear other stories, people that are hustling that aren’t, you know, that aren’t giving up that are going after it.
So, yeah, just kind of all those different factors, in ended up with myself getting a job at a company that was just a much better fit for me. And they kind of they so they found me through my Crash profile, actually, so I didn’t actually pitch them, they just found me through the video I had made and looking through, like my profile on Crash.
So that was that was kind of cool. And when they reached out I mean, it was just like the hope, you know, just it was on fire, you know. But yeah, so with with the Crash. The the with the tool itself, it was just really cool way to be talking with people that were in a similar position to what I was in or could at least empathize with where I was in life, and I set off what others were achieving, and was able to turn around and land a job.
I think it was within two weeks. So it was it was awesome for me just being able to do that. And I attribute it very very, like hands down to you to Crash and the platform. I mean obviously I did my part showing up but it was also the tool itself really cool to use. So highly recommend that and I know this is your podcast, so I’m not I’m not trying to like do a shameless sell or anything I love Crash people.
I was gonna say like we are not paying Kasen to be on this show!
That’s awesome that you have that sort of emotional intelligence to to kind of process that that disruption you know, with a layoff and then say, Okay, let’s make the list of companies that I love and that was like your motivation.
That was like your little kindling, fear, fear your job hunt fire, like and that’s another reason Pick the companies you love. Because then you have the intrinsic motivation to do that. Do that little bit of research and shoot that pitch video, it’s not something that you have to get it because you got to put, you got to put food on the table. So you got to get a job.
You know, it’s like, no, this is like, this is like a little spark in your day. Yeah, you need you need it. Yeah, but it’s a spark in your day. I’m really excited about this company, who not going to take this creative approach to the job time and shoot a pitch video and show my show my portfolio.
So that’s it’s so awesome to turn it around in two weeks. That’s that’s that’s so cool. And tell us a little bit more about the the your profile video. It’s your Crash.co/KasenWysong.
You’ll see his profile video, of course, the crash, we have the profile video, which is your pitch to the world at large. And then you have that’s like your, your anchor. And then you have the opportunity to create custom pitches for companies. But this this particular profile video, you it’s really creative, you’re outdoors, and you maybe add some props in there.
Again, this goes back to the beginning of our show here, because you’re talking about here’s my experience, with these soft skills of empathy and confidence in you you make that you make that you connect the dots for for the viewer of this video. So tell us about your profile video.
Yeah, absolutely. Um, so it’s interesting, you kept bringing up empathy. And I love that word. In fact, it’s one of the it’s just a big word, I think it’s on my profile somewhere. But there’s, I’d have to go back and check. But empathy is something I would say I picked up from the food and beverage industry, because oddly enough, when somebody spills their cup of coffee, you have to like that is the worst thing in the world.
Because for them, it crushes their day. And for you, it has to crush your day too. You need to like just be in that zone with them, you know, and feel their pain. So you make them another cup. So I really learned empathy through that line of work. And with the video I wanted to, it was, again, a very short video. So I had to figure out how to incorporate a lot of who I am into it. And I chose to use props.
It was just my own kind of unique twist. I don’t know how many users do that. But for me, it kind of worked. I’m not a super techie person. And so I was like, You know what, I’m just gonna pick some props and go with it. So. So basically what I did, which I highly recommend, follow this step by step.
I went to my parents farm, near swamp. And I set up a stool. And, by the way, just kidding, like, don’t you know, this is kind of weird. This was my own my own twist on it. But I basically filmed the video with this farm as kind of a backdrop. And I actually later got feedback from the Crash team. And they were like, hey, like, this is cool. But you might want a lot less background noise, because the wind was blowing so hard.
So, but anyway, I was out at this farm, and I had a coffee cup, a chessboard and a dumbbell. And I was like, You know what, like, I think this chessboard speaks to like my strategic mind. This, this dumbbell signifies, like, the strength that I can add to a team, and the coffee cap was, I think something along the lines of communication, right. But those are all like different elements of who I am as a person.
And so I focused very, very much on the soft skills in that video, because I knew I wasn’t going to, it would have been really hard to tell sell them on my technical skills, like people don’t, I, it was my theory that people don’t really want to see that in a one minute video about you, they might scan your profile and see all the tools that backup who you are as a person.
But I think in that video, the most important thing you want to do is convey who you are. And so that was my focus. I was like, you know, I’m just gonna, I’m just gonna, like, show them my character. And so I came out and smiling was just regular tone of voice and tried as much as I could kind of channel who I am into into the video. And I think the props kind of added this creative element that also kind of spoke to like, you know, I can look at a spread look at spreadsheets and do some of the technical stuff in, you know, Adobe or wherever, but I do have more of this fun, quirky side to me.
So, you know, we’re all standing around a water cooler like, or like hacky sack, and like I’m with y’all, you know. So, yeah, so that was kind of like my main goal with the video and in I knew I was going to focus pretty specifically on the soft skills. And one other thing I want to say real fast was I think that one that I left out, which was a big big lesson from the food and beverage industry was patience.
I think it’s such an undervalued skill that lead to professional success. And in doesn’t really matter your line of work, it could be customer success, marketing, sales, whatever it is, you need patience. And I think that was something that you have to learn in food and beverage, just whether it’s with a customer, whether it’s with the workflow and the flow of the restaurant, and whatever’s happening, like the the coffee shop line.
But that was something that I also learned. And that’s been coming in handy just day to day as I’m working with teammates, and how to be part of, you know, what’s often small, agile startup teams. So that was just something else I wanted to throw in there, by the way.
Yeah, 100% I mean, again, it’s all about the soft skills with professional success, you know, it’s like 90, 90% of companies value soft skills or the hard skills. And yeah, you don’t need to go and your Crash videos, as far as Kasen did necessarily and go with the props and outdoor setting. You can see here, if you go to Crash.co/Hall-of-Fame, Kasen’s Hall of Famer.
He’s got a pitch to Typeform in there.
Yeah, you can see the farm go out to this farm somewhere.
Yeah, no, but I was gonna say like, it doesn’t need to be that creative though. It can be just just just turn on. Just turn on your camera there. You just speak. And you could just, I mean, like you’re saying earlier about the coffee cup. The customer spilling the coffee cup, like make that a little story in a video.
Like, you know, I was I was always the one that took care of the customer when they when they spilled their coffee. I immediately, you know, you know, consoled them and said it’s all good. I’ll get you another cup. Yeah, I’ve cried. I’ve never actually that happened to me a couple years ago, I spilled a cup of coffee at this, like, this nice coffee shop and I just felt I felt so you know, flustered over it.
And then, you know, they just the the barista just came over and gave me a new cup. And I immediately immediately wrote them a positive review on Yelp. You know, it’s like, that’s the, that’s the power of customer service. Like it’s really meaningful. So you just tell a story like that. Just turn your camera on, say, this is what I did as a barista. This is what I did, waiting tables. Boom, here’s a little story.
You humanize yourself through the story. And then you say and that’s why I’m going to be a great fit for your company. Because I’m gonna bring that level of empathy and and, and consistency and work ethic and everything you know to to that job. So don’t underestimate your past experience case and it’s been a blast to to hear your stories and again, it’s crash.co/KasenWysong. Any other places people can find you any other parting words?
You know, if you want you can check out my website, KasenDaiWysong.com. I’ve got a lot of graphic ninjas run around my website. And then parting words. Yeah, I would just say people remember how you make them feel. So at the end of the day, like just build those soft skills and make sure you leave them with a good feeling so and like you were saying, if you can just have a white wall behind you and no props and and just be who you are. Just try to make them feel something.
So good stuff. Yeah. Companies or people too.
Thanks so much, Kasen.
Joel. It’s been great, man. Thanks for having me on.
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