Monday, 12 December 2016

How to find a job that turns you on

For me, the most exciting thing doesn’t happen on the weekend. It happens at 5am, every morning when I wake up. I wake up with the birds, the sunrise and quiet streets. I read my emails and jump out of bed ready for some exercise! No matter what time I've gone to bed, I wake up with excitement. Am I crazy? No, I just love my work.
I love what I do and I firmly believe this is a critical factor, often overlooked, in overall health and wellbeing. You spend a majority of your week working or thinking about work. So why wouldn’t you choose to do something you love?
Many people are forced to work at jobs they hate, and it’s evident by the army of sad faces we see on the daily march to work. I understand, believe me I do. Commitments like mortgages, cars, family and lifestyle force people to stay in jobs they don’t love. But I believe there comes a time where one has to take control of one’s life, and change whatever it is that’s making you unhappy. 
Don’t worry, you’re not alone. We’ve all had a job we hate at some point in our lives, with financial and life commitments that force us to stay there. It’s about realising what’s making you unhappy, and having the courage to make lasting change. 
The late Steve Jobs said, “I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: ‘If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?’. Whenever the answer has been ‘No’ for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.” The guy created Apple and Pixar, and he was still pondering whether his work was fulfilling. We all have these moments, as humans, but it’s how you deal with these that defines you.
The best way to start is to have a side hustle or hobby that you really enjoy. Use your hidden talent to get closer to fulfilment. You may work as an accountant during the day, but play bass guitar for live gigs in the evening, or like getting your hands dirty with landscape gardening. Passion doesn’t work 9-5, passion works 24/7.
If you’re not fulfilled in your current job, the first step should be to speak out. Talk to your boss! Is there anything else at work you could be doing that would make your day more fulfilling and enjoyable? What could give you greater satisfaction at work and increase your output?
If you are stuck in a rut, think to yourself, what would turn you on in the mornings? What would make you leap out of bed in excitement everyday?
For me, it’s knowing that I’m working towards bringing lasting change to the employment market. We are giving flexibility back to bosses and shifters through our app. No more resumes. No more applications. No more job interviews. Instant access to the jobs that suit you! Passionate about a career change but never tried it before? Merlin provide a risk free opportunity to chase that dream.
Whether you’re an accountant with a green thumb, or a brickie who can hit the high notes like Christina – sign up on the Merlin website ( and be ready for when we launch in Feb 2017!

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

THE INTERVIEW - R.I.P (3100 B.C. - 2017)

If you’re a boss, ask yourself: How much can I really learn about a person in an interview? How much of what they’re telling you is because they know you want to hear it and how much of what they say is true and unbiased?
I often wonder to myself why businesses bother to interview. Instead we should be able to narrow the candidates down from the ‘must-have’ and ‘nice-to-have’ criteria and set them to work with us in a trial capacity and see who fits best with company expectations and culture. 
I mean, there is an industry built around passing interviews, from courses on interview techniques, books on tips and tricks and professional CV writers – it’s pretty much an art form unto itself about how to sell yourself into a job. In my opinion, a bit like dating, its best to present yourself honestly and openly to prospective employers (and vice versa) so there are no nasty surprises and everyone can save a lot of time and energy when the inevitable comes out. 
The interview itself has been around for thousands of years with one of the first being documented in Ancient Egypt the Bible: "Pharaoh started this interview with a compliment: “It is said about you that when you hear a dream you can interpret it” (Genesis 41-15) - and you'll all know - nothing has changed Isn’t it about time for a different approach?
Imagine a world where the Costanza-approach were to be applied to candidate matching (I.e. Do the opposite of what you would normally do). Where candidates’ skills, personality, aptitudes and working style were laid bare as were that of a prospective employer (where the company excels, what it’s really like working for said company etc.). Then you would get hard data with which to match the two interested parties. Sure there will be more factors than I have mentioned here but the essence of the reason why we conduct interviews will in effect be eliminated. 

If you had a person with the 'right stuff', why wouldn’t you invite them in to see how they perform? Would there be a need to interview them if you know exactly what they can do and how they go about doing it?
Advances in technology and its acceptance has meant that some employers and candidates have decided to let an algorithm do the tango. Resulting in better employer-employee matches and a serious reduction in time spent interviewing and screening and more time getting down to business. Some are touting that the interview as you know it will be dead by 2018.
Merlin is a year ahead in killing the interview, giving time back to employers. Bosses can be specific with who they’re after (personality type, working style, skill set/s, qualifications etc.). The Merlin app will then (depending on how urgent your shift is) find the closest person that fits your criteria and that is able to work immediately. Bosses can then rate the shifter, and both profiles are enhanced each time a shift is completed.
I am proud to be in the race to revolutionize the way people are hired – making the process as smooth and accurate as possible for all involved.
We are slated to launch in Feb 2017.

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Everyone Loves a Fling!

If I was to liken the traditional recruitment methods employed by most companies to something, it would be a marriage. You sign a binding agreement and its almost till death do you part for both. When you boil it all down, hiring is the union between an individual with the right skills and an employer requiring those skills. In fact, getting out of a marriage is easier (and cheaper) these days than going through the divorce of an employee AKA firing someone.
Let’s face it, hiring is expensive, keeping is expensive (Super, Tax, Awards etc.) firing is expensive, re-hiring is expensive and more expensive if you get it wrong. It isn’t easy to be in business and the biggest gripe most employers I speak to is, is finding the right people.
And so most employers stick it out with existing staff without actually ever having tried the entire market (that would be nigh-on impossible) so they do the old luck of the draw approach, by posting and interviewing the best that applies (Let’s face it, that’s all recruiters do as well). Imagine entering into agreements with all of these potentials only to find out they are just not right?!
I think the solution would be to try independent contractors in your business and try to move away from the whole “I must hire full time people on a contract ALL the time”. Think of this army of people as mini-entrepreneurs, each with their own unique skill set, personality and lets face it – pitfalls. BUT – it’s a no strings relationship. You can take these guys and girls on, see how they go, bring more in when it’s busy and less when it’s not and have ZERO hassles when it comes to paying Super, PAYG, Overtime, Penalty Rates (on and on and on).
Welcome to the brave new world of the agile workforce AKA the Gig Economy. They are there when you need them and off to the next shift when you don’t. A trend I reckon every business should hop on because it isn’t going away and makes logical sense.
So if you’re someone who has hired someone or are involved in the hiring process, ask yourself: Do I want to get married over and over again or do I just want a fling?! I know which I’d choose
The next step is finding this mythical band of merry men and women who magically appear and are ready to work and disappear when the show is over – check out Merlin ( because I reckon we’ve got just the trick.

Thursday, 24 November 2016

The Best Business Plan

Before pitching a new business idea to someone, take an envelope (or a napkin) and refine the concept until you can write what your idea is and what problem/s it solves in a sentence or two. 

Not only will this help you define your idea to others but it will allow you to find the essence of your new venture and what you should be focusing on.

I'm a big believer in coming up with a concept and getting it to market as quickly as possible - pretty soon you'll learn the ins and outs and develop your concept from the back of a beer coaster into something we can't live without

P.S The best business plans are often drafted on the back of a beer coaster, *ahem* @merlinskill

Numero Uno

Well, I'd like to introduce myself: I'm James Sackl and I am an entrepreneur from Melbourne, Australia. I decided to start a blog to coincide with my recent debut on social media. I figured I would chronicle my journey as a young entrepreneur at the helm of a few of really exciting businesses (Merlin, Ad Astra, Karma³, MyFarm) with the view of sharing this incredible journey and hopefully providing some entertaining commentary and useful insights along the way for anyone who is thinking of or already involved in their own business.

A bit of a background on me, I started out my business life organising dance parties. We were 16 at the time and didn’t have a lot of money to go out (or buy fake IDs) but we all loved a good party and I had been to enough schools to know who was who in the zoo. So I set up an events company and charged a flat rate for tickets to see a few DJs with the promise of as much free booze as you wanted, rented a warehouse and with that money paid the advance on the DJ, the rent and the alcohol and hopefully had a bit of money left over at the end. I did this because there was a need that wasn’t being filled and ended up hosting around 70 parties a year. The same is true for why I started Merlin. 

The seed for Merlin was developed during the time when we were still running the media company I setup when I left school that offered vouchers from local businesses to visitors to our directory service for young people. We realised there was a need for a quick and easy way for young people to get jobs with little to no experience, so we setup a recruitment division of the business that offered our site’s users the ability to gain an internship/part time job with the businesses who advertised through our site. 

Our idea was simple, have candidates apply to us with their resume and we would spruik them (for a fee) to businesses who advertised with us (free recruitment).  So off we went, businesses started to advertise and we started to place people into part time jobs and internships.I was lucky enough to have my media company acquired in 2012, with money in the bank I setup a backpacker, a restaurant a bar and bought a farm, however on return to the small recruitment company I had started and given free reign to, I soon realised our service was actually turning into a disservice! Employers weren’t happy it took so long for the right candidate to arrive and applicants were frustrated it took so long (average time was 3.5 weeks) to have an employer interview them (we even got sued by one candidate because it took us so long to find him a job!) so I put a total stop to the service as I felt we were headed in the wrong direction. I had to make a tough decision and fire my best friend from school who I entrusted to run the business and axe  all 12 staff (I find it so hard to fire people so this was super hard) 

It was on a family skiing trip later that year that I had an epiphany - the managers of the ski resort where we were staying said they found it near-on impossible to find suitable staff for their peak season. I recalled a came up with a concept before selling called "Gone Staffing" whereby people could sign up to be part of the pool and employers could perform a search to find those people and ask them to come and work all via an app on your phone. I decided we had to have another go at the concept. So we setup Merlin (

Merlin was started to deliver the right people to shifts, on-demand. Our vision is where our system knows enough about the person and enough about the duties required to match the best person in the shortest amount of time without the need for interviews and paperwork. We also envisage being able to pull people from overseas in the event a shift can’t be filled by someone local (imagine being able to travel the world on a permanent working holiday via Merlin, where you’re guaranteed work where ever you go). 

We are currently working to perfect our system. We have all our software team in-house and we have hired some terrific migration experts who are working out how we can get people from overseas a visa within 48 hrs so when our app launches we are be able to offer our employers the worlds largest talent pool all accessible with a maximum of 48hrs from requesting the shift be filled. 

Once a shift is finished, the shifter is rated (as is the Boss!) and so the shifters attractiveness for future shifts grows. If we start to notice a trend in below par performance in certain duties, a shifter can elevate these scores by completing some training through the revolutionary training business I have setup called Ad Astra (To the Stars!)

Merlin isn't the only jewel in our crown however, Karma³ ( another baby I setup that is, at the time of blogging this piece, in the R&D phase. The concept revolves around up-cycling waste and innovative waste collection programmes that provide rewards to users. This space is prime for a shake up and I think we have the concept and in-house smarts to make it happen and shift (pardon the Merlin pun) the current "waste" paradigm.

I am also involved in a business I setup with my best friend called MyFarm ( We hope to give farmers the opportunity to sell their produce around the world and via our chain of fast and fresh farm restaurants. We own a cattle station called Blue Lake Station where we breed black angus cattle of our own.

Stay tuned, as I will be updating this blog from time to time with my experiences, advice and success (and of course my failures and lessons learned).

You can also catch me on twitter