Why did you start If Not For?
I love hearing folks talk about the indelible people in their lives.
I remember, many years ago, hearing a recording of the composer, Aaron Copland, talking about the extraordinary effect his teacher, Nadia Boulanger, had on him. I’ve never been able to find that recording again.
I wanted to make sure I and any other person could tell and share a story like that knowing it would be saved forever, be easy to find, and never be used as a vehicle to sell advertising (à la Facebook).
Who are you?
My name’s Ted Pearlman. I’m married to Allison, an architect. We live in Denver, Colorado, with our ridiculous sixth-grader, Oscar, who likes to make tiny dimetrodons out of hot glue, and Mabel, our couch potato Newfoundland pup.
Resume-wise, I have a BA in Music (Cornell ’90), am a certified Gordon communications trainer, and spent many years in the tech industry with companies like Sony and IBM.
Way back in 2007, I spearheaded something called the Denver Urban Core Cohousing Initiative. I talked about it on Colorado Public Radio and, somehow, the interview is still online. It gives a bit of a sense of me.
If you’re curious how I make a living these days, there’s info here.
How can I tell a story, too?
Telling your story takes less than 7 minutes (and usually less than 4).
The telling takes place over the phone, with me as interviewer, at a date and time that works best for you.
The only thing you have to decide beforehand is who you want to talk about.
Choose your 7-minute recording session slot here:
The phone number you’ll call in to is:
+1 (303) 309‑9577
After our recording call, I’ll put your story up on its own page and send you the URL so you can share it.
Who can I tell a story about?
You can tell a story about anyone who’s had an indelibly positive effect on your life — your mom, your college advisor, John Cassavetes, your crazy nextdoor neighbor Ethel, a person you overheard on the Subway whose name you never learned — it’s totally up to you.
How much does this cost?
It’s entirely free for both storytellers and listeners.
Will there be any ads on my story?
We don’t and never will have advertising of any kind.
How can this be free AND ad-free?
I’m bankrolling it myself. If it takes off, we’ll pay the bills with donations.
How long should my story be?
Most people’s stories are between 90 seconds and 5 minutes. But if you have a longer story, I’m happy to accomodate!
How many stories can I tell?
You can tell as many stories as you like.
Can I embed a story on my website?
What do you do for a living?
I’m a professional connector.
I help a very specific breed of CEOs connect with subject matter experts, creative contractors, and advisors who can help them and their companies.
I work on retainer for each client. When one of them comes to me with a particularly difficult challenge, my job is to ask a ton of questions, get a handle on the challenge’s fundamentals, and figure out what single person is most likely to set that client on a course to getting the challenge tackled.
The type of CEOs I work with.
They’re all in tech and they all have the Myers-Briggs type ENFP. I’ve always found the ENFP connective tissue of my clientele fascinating, especially since ENFP CEOs are pretty rare (they make up only about 7% of all CEOs).
I’m not sure why all my clients are ENFP CEOs, but I have a working theory…
ENFP CEOs are disinterested in managing details. They don’t like hierarchical power structures. They’re sincerely empathetic and eager to develop humane friendships with their employees and collaborators. Business, to them, isn’t about making money. It’s about creating something of meaning.
So when they’re faced with any specific business challenge, their instinct isn’t to tackle it themselves. Unless they happen to be the foremost expert on that type of challenge, they’d see tackling it directly as arrogant. They’d see it as a missed opportunity to get the best people on it. And they’d be concerned tackling it themselves would take away from their focus on the mission of the company.
If there isn’t someone ultra-qualified, in-house, who they can delegate the solving to, they try to find someone new they can bring in to take it on.
This creates a secondary challenge of finding that someone — which is yet another challenge the tackling of which they’d prefer to delegate to an expert.
That’s where I come in. My clients have me find the person who can tackle the primary challenge.
How I got into this line of work.
In 2012, the CEO of Precision Nutrition, Phil Caravaggio, who I’d never met before, called me up out of the blue and asked me if I could connect him with a new, interim CTO.
A few hours before Phil reached out to me, I’d left a comment on a Signal v Noise blog post that asked their readers to help them find a solution to a thorny office architectural acoustics problem.
I grew up as a musician and knew a little bit about acoustics — just enough that I could tell his audience wasn’t going to provide him with the best solution. They were doing their darnedest to help, but this particular problem clearly needed a bonafide expert in architectural acoustics. In my comment, I offered to connect them with one. (The person I advised them to use was Russ Berger.)
Phil was a fan of Signal v Noise, too, read my comment, and thought I might be able to help.
It wasn’t long after starting to work with Phil — still my favorite client — that I decided to quit my other gig and hang out my shingle as a professional connector. Best career decision I’ve ever made.
If you’re wondering if you’re an ENFP, you can find out, with a fair degree of accuracy, here.
Important Note: I’m not a headhunter. I don’t find full-time employees. I find outside subject matter experts, creative contractors, and advisors, who come in for a finite period of time to tackle a particular challenge.
Are you hiring?
Is there an If Not For app?
Not yet. But we’re working on it.