to Brian Simon Associates specializes inrecruitment within the Public Relations and Communications sectors.  Brian Gabay, their CEO shares what makes them unique. 

This includes:

  • They are one of only a few firms in the US whose niche is PR  
  •  They focus on finding the right personality/culture fit rather than just experience fit 
  •  They meet all their NY clients in-person to understand them better 
  • They constantly keep their clients up to date on the progress of their search 


Read more about the importance of considering personality.


The Transcript

Brad Wolff: 00:00            

Welcome to the “It Is About You Podcast”. Today I’m honored to have as my guest Brian Gabay with “Brian Simon Associates”. Brian, welcome to the show!

Brian Gabay: 00:15         

Thank you, Brad, So excited for you to have me on the show. Really appreciate it, I’m honored! Thank you so much!

Brad Wolff: 00:22            

Absolutely! So if you would share a little bit about yourself and your organization “Brian Simon Associates”.

Brian Gabay: 00:30         

Sure, absolutely! So Brian Simon and Associates is a Recruitment Firm. We specialize in Public Relations Recruitment mainly, and we do a lot of work in the New York City Market. We work with a lot of PR Agencies on their Staffing efforts. We also do some work nationwide, pretty much in LA and San Francisco and San Diego and Boston, New Jersey. But really this film was geared towards recruitment efforts for Public Relations, for the Public Relations Industry. And we just hit our 4 year Anniversary this past January.

Brad Wolff: 01:07            


Brian Gabay: 01:08         

Thank you so much!

Brad Wolff: 01:10            

After the first 4 years, everything gets really easy, right?

Brian Gabay: 01:12         

Oh yeah, that’s what they say. It’s been a crazy roller coaster so far, but I’m loving every minute of it.

Brad Wolff: 01:18            

Terrific! So if you would Brian, tell me a little bit about the journey that’s brought you to where you are today.

Brian Gabay: 01:25         

Absolutely! So the year was 2012 actually when I started when I first got into the recruitment world. I worked at a Boutique, a Recruitment Firm.

Brian Gabay: 01:35         

I got into PR recruitment about a year and a half after that. First of all, if I knew I loved recruiting right when I started it’s just something about the hustle and the game attracted me to the journey. I just loved finding the right candidate and just matching them with the right client. I just love the hustle of it. And about a year and a half into my recruitment life, I went to a larger agency. I started a PR recruitment division there. They never had one. So I came there, I started the vision. I built out a team. I loved it. It was great and I knew I was really good at it. You know, when you love what you do, you know it doesn’t feel like work. You know, you’re just, you just show up every day and you’re the best version of yourself and you’re just happy and you’re making money along the way.

Brian Gabay: 02:23         

Right? And you’re helping and you’re changing people’s lives, so it’s a win-win. On 2016, I just had a vision. I wanted you to know, just take a leap of faith. I had an itch to do so. And it was scary, you know, to quit a job of stability of a base income, you know, it’s terrifying actually, but I knew if I don’t do it now, I’ll never do it. So in 2016 of January took a leap of faith and I went out on my own, you know, I worked out of coffee shops. Every coffee shop in New York city probably knew who I was and worked out of my apartment too. I split up my time and yeah, fast forward life. It’s been our whirlwind. It’s been ups and downs, but thank God more ups and downs.

Brian Gabay: 03:11         

So I am thankful that you know, I can say today I built out a team, you know, right now we have an office space in the heart of New York City in Midtown. We have a bunch of recruiters that are very talented and we’re just so growing. You know, it’s been so exciting.

Brad Wolff: 03:27            

Terrific! So if you would tell me about what excites you the most about what you do in your organization.

Brian Gabay: 03:35         

I love people! I know a lot of people can’t say that because this world is filled with all kinds of people and personalities. But I just feel like everyone has something unique to offer. You know, everyone is special in their own way and I love finding out that special characteristics that people possess. I love figuring it out, you know? And one thing that I feel like would be made me good at this is that people feel comfortable with me I guess, and they feel like they can open up to me and I just love every day, no matter what I’m doing.

Brian Gabay: 04:14         

I just love figuring out why people are special and what is special about them. And I know it sounds a little like corny in a way, but it really means, you know, that’s what I love the most answer your question. I love talking to people, engaging with people and understanding, you know, what they want to do with their life. Not just now, but like what’s there, what’s their end game? Where do they want to end up, you know, and try and help them getting there and guiding them at least to get there? I’m not a superhero by no means, but I just love, I guess to answer your question again, to figure out, you know, to find out what’s special about people and that’s what I’m good at.

Brad Wolff: 04:55            

Yeah, that would be, that is a big deal. So what are the key things that make your firm different than other firms in Staffing and Recruiting?

Brian Gabay: 05:07         

Absolutely! I mean, you know, I think it’s a very competitive market. There’s a lot of Recruiting Agencies out there and everyone’s competing. I think what makes us stand out, a few things. One, we have a niche area of recruitment, which is Public Relations. There’s not a lot of agencies out there that just do PR and you know, whether it’s a recruiter that works for a larger recruitment firm and they have a few clients in Public Relations and they’re just doing it. We are a more specialized Recruitment Agency. I think. You know, PR agencies when they need talent, they don’t know what to do. They don’t know where to go. They can find a talented recruiter that, you know, might have worked in the PR for some time and maybe has a few clients here and there, but they don’t really understand the PR industry. And I feel like I’m grateful and blessed to say that I’ve been doing this for some time and I’ve worked with so many talented PR agencies out there, that’s what makes us stand our industry knowledge, our specialization, our focus within the PR world.

Brad Wolff: 06:23            

That’s a really good point. So what else comes to mind that you guys do differently that gives you a uniqueness specialist?

Brian Gabay: 06:33         

Our style of recruitment or the way that we you know, talk to individuals and candidates and clients, we’re not pushy. You know, we listen where, you know, at the end of the day, there’s a lot of recruiters that get a bad rap out there that come off as very aggressive and pushy and just not as a considerate, you know, they just care about themselves. A little bit of selfishness. At the end of the day, you know, obviously, everyone’s out there to make money and be successful, but I want to do it the right way. So I listened first. I will never force you to take a job. At the end of the day, it’s your decision. I’m just here to open a door for you. And I think that’s what I and my team stand for. We were just here literally just to make an introduction and be there along the way. Guide you through the process and see where it goes and just hopefully at the end of the day you make the right decision for you.

Brad Wolff: 07:27            

Yeah! And I would think that encouraged, that increases the number of referrals of good people, good quality candidates that you get and that it’s more likely that they stay in the job because they’ve made it a decision rather than being, you know, willfully rather mean pushed. So people who else comes to mind that Brian Simon does really well that makes you unique?

Brian Gabay: 07:47         

Yeah! I mean I feel like a lot of people in this industry also when they work with recruiters, they come to them as just like clients. For example. They work with recruiters. They just come to them to find people. I view us as more of a strategic partner to clients, industry trends, knowledge, anything. Our clients don’t just come to us for talent. I am more of a, you know, they come, “Hey Brian, what are the salary ranges? Because I can’t find it on the glass door. I can’t find it on LinkedIn. What are people paying for these positions right now in New York or in LA?” you know, I’m a partner in every aspect when it comes to just recruitment in general and just hiring and that and you know, any topic that comes to mind in this industry. I think that’s what makes us stand out also. It’s not just finding the right person, it’s also giving you advice on, you know, in other areas,

Brad Wolff: 08:48            

Right! Because people at the end of the day, they expect that you’re going to know more about the market then they’re going to know because you’re in all the time.

Brian Gabay: 08:56         

Exactly! Yeah!

Brad Wolff: 08:57            

How about as far as what do you do to help match the right person with a job? Because you know, someone could have the right experience, but that doesn’t mean that they’re the right person. Can you share a little bit about that?

Brian Gabay: 09:08         

Of course. I think that comes to play to a makes us stand out. We love meeting everyone in person. That’s a big, big, big deal. Especially in New York City because we’re based here. Any candidate, any client, we love meeting in person. So yeah, to answer your question, you can’t really know so much about a person just by a phone call. You can ask the right questions, you can feel them out, their energy and whatnot. But once you meet them in person, I really look for so much more. You know, they’re just their demeanor if they’re nervous, you know, and just, just the way they present themselves, you know, physically and also, you know, putting someone in front of partners, when you meet someone in person, they have to be on top of their game.

Brian Gabay: 09:57         

You can be on a phone call laying in your bed and be on top of your game and the other person on the phone would never know it. Do you know what I mean? So I think meeting everyone in person is key to really understand who they truly are and if there are any flaws that come up. For example, I’ve met a candidate, just to give you a quick example, great on the phone, amazing personality, great background. I got them in an interview, met them in person to actually prep them, right? And it was night and day. They had a pen in their hand. They kept on clicking it every two seconds. It was driving me nuts. They kept on twirling around in their chair. It was driving me nuts. And you know what? I had to tell them, I’m like, you cannot do this in the interview.

Brian Gabay: 10:45         

I was very close to like I was telling myself, Oh gosh, I wish I met them before I submitted them to the client, which we normally usually do. This is like one rare scenario. But basically these are little things. And I think at the end of the day, a lot of recruiters don’t meet people enough in person. You have to, you have to take that extra step.

Brad Wolff: 11:06            

So you feel that’s something your clients value that you bring that’s different than what.

Brian Gabay: 11:11         

Of course, it’s credibility. How can I, you know, we’re not selling products here, we’re selling personalities, you know, at the end of the day. So how can I really talk highly of someone when I don’t know exactly who they actually are. You know, I used to go, you know, so that’s really.

Brad Wolff: 11:27            

Is there anything you do that helps match up with the personality fit that goes beyond just their experience?

Brian Gabay: 11:33         

I get them out of their comfort zone right away. You know I loosen them up right away. When candidates come in with a resume, I take it up. I literally rip it up, I say, and I asked him one question, who are you? That’s what I asked him. Who are you? And sometimes they’re like, Whoa, what is this? Who is this guy? Why is he asked? Like this is so crazy. But it helps because they automatically feel comfortable. Like they, you know, they just zone out. Like they, it’s just so informal. I don’t make it formal because I really want them to open up to me and once they do then I can really understand who they are. And I talk about family. Tell me about your family. You know, do you have siblings? Do you not? Do you know, I just want to know who they are as a person. They open up and after that, honestly, the rest is like the experience. I think honestly at the end of the day comes secondary. You know, because there’s a lot of people out there with an amazing experience, but they have such, you know, just, they’re kind of boring in person pointing personalities, you know? And they just, I think, but again, at this to that point you can have a boring personality, but it depends on the person who’s speaking to you because everyone can shine in some sort of way. But a lot of people don’t bring out their energy when they’re talking to someone that doesn’t allow them to come out, you know, to give off that.

Brad Wolff: 13:07            

That’s a good point! We’re not necessarily the same with everyone we meet. So yeah, anything else? Because those are some really good things. Anything else that you’d do that, that really provides value for your clients? That is not necessarily what everyone does.

Brian Gabay: 13:20         

The dedication is real. Brad, I tell you that.

Brad Wolff: 13:24            

How about the issue of your clients being up to date, even if there’s nothing new to report, can you share a little bit about and again?

Brian Gabay: 13:31         

Yeah, absolutely! So basically when it comes to climate communication, gotta be, I tell all, everyone on my team, you gotta answer right away. Even if you have nothing to say, you have to say something saying something is better than saying nothing. So very good at daily checking in with clients, especially if it’s a new search that’s ongoing. And even if we don’t have anyone right off the bat to submit and a day goes by, two days go by, I’ll always check in with the client and say, “Hey, just to let you know, we’re working hard, we’re actively sourcing nonstop and we’re, we’re hoping to get you the right person very soon” because a lot of recruiters, I’ve seen it, I have a lot of friends in the industry and they tell me, you know, a lot of them don’t even, they just communicate with the client when they have a reason to when they have a candidate. But I like keeping the client in tune with the journey because if I go silent, they’re just going to think I’m not doing anything, you know, but I really want them to know that they know what.

Brad Wolff: 14:37            

So they know that you’re still on the haven’t forgotten. So that’s something that I know clients really appreciate.

Brian Gabay: 14:45         

Exactly right!

Brad Wolff: 14:46            

Would you share, what would you consider the greatest success story that you’ve been part of with Brian Simon Associates?

Brian Gabay: 14:54         

The greatest success story. It’s kinda, it will, it ties into recruitment, but it wasn’t the PR candidate and it’s actually remarkable. In 2015, I found a stranger to donate her kidney to my father. Okay. In Atlanta, Georgia. And I found it off the internet. Okay! And I tell all my, and this is, this was all happening kind of around the time when I was gearing up to start my business and everything. A year later I took off two months, right? Like right when I started my business to go on a show when I went out. Long story short to go on a TV show on Fox called Home Free, and I want her a dream home to repay her back. And that ties in to tell you the biggest success story when I started my business. I think that’s very relevant because I tell all my clients every day, I promise you I can find you this person. If I found a stranger to donate her kidney to my father across, you know, in Atlanta, Georgia that I found off the internet, I promise you I can find another publicist to join your team. And they laugh.

Brad Wolff: 16:12            

But you know what? That’s a unique one. I don’t think there are many folks that could use that analogy. That’s an awesome story.

Brian Gabay: 16:22         

Yeah! No, but it’s true though. Hey, ties into recruiting because technically a recruiter.

Brad Wolff: 16:27            

Yeah! You recruited her, you sourced and recruited.

Brian Gabay: 16:30         


Brad Wolff: 16:30            

That’s a true statement.

Brian Gabay: 16:31         


Brad Wolff: 16:34            

I’m a big believer that it’s the failures and obstacles that really make us and help us improve. Do you have a particular failure or obstacle you’ve overcome that’s been pivotal to your success?

Brian Gabay: 16:44         

Yeah! The first year that I started the business, I had 3 candidates that awful fell off within the first 90 days. The guarantee period, the client’s already paid and I had to give it back. I had to literally send the money back. And as a new business owner startup that really hurt, you know, and I was ready to close down shop and just give up and Hey, I can’t do this anymore. But I didn’t. And I kept ongoing. And that’s one thing I learned this industry is, it’s up and down. It really truly is the best roller coaster ride you’ll ever take. You know, and some people crumble and they stop there and they just fold. But one thing I’ve learned from this, you got to keep going. You can’t stop, you know, the first year to go through 3 really big failures right back to back to back.

Brad Wolff: 17:44            

Oh, that hurts! That hurts. No matter how long you’re in the business to ever grow like that. Wow!

Brian Gabay: 17:48         

Exactly. But you know what?

Brian Gabay: 17:49         

You keep going and it happens. It’s the nature of the industry. And I am so happy that I did not stop because if I did, I don’t know what.

Brad Wolff: 17:59            

Well, you know what? If you did, you wouldn’t be on the show today. So I’m glad you didn’t stop too.

Brian Gabay: 18:05         

But it’s funny, Brad, my team tells me all the time, they’re like, Brian, you’re changing our life. You’re giving us a platform to get into the recruitment world, make money, and help people, you know, without, if you folded shop and you didn’t do this, we don’t know where we would have been. Do you know? So it’s amazing, It’s an amazing feeling to hear that, that you’re helping others kind of really, you know, build lives for themselves. You know, it really is remarkable.

Brad Wolff: 18:35            

So Brian, as we’re wrapping this up, is there anything that you’d like to add that we haven’t discussed that you’d like to share?

Brian Gabay: 18:43         

Just really, you know, maybe just like a message to talented recruiters out there that are, maybe are thinking about going out on their own or are making a change to another recruitment firm or whatnot. Whatever you do, don’t be scared. I think that’s the biggest model. Do not be scared of change. In fact, you have to change with change, you know, because I was terrified and you just can’t let your fears control you and take over you because you’ll always stay stagnant and you’ll never advance. So I guess that’s just a little key message. Just don’t be scared of change. Take your leap of faith. If you want to start your own thing, go for it. The worst thing that can happen is that you end up back at another recruitment firm because anyone will take you if you’re that good.

Brad Wolff: 19:45            

There you go! That’s Sage advice. Brian, what is your website, just so the audience can find you easily?

Brian Gabay: 19:52         

Yeah, sure! Its WWW dot Brian, B R I A N Simon, S I M O N A S S O C dot com. Brian Simon, A S S O C dot com.

Brad Wolff: 20:07            

Terrific! Brian, thank you so much for your time and really appreciated a chance to get to know you better and learn more about you and what really motivates you.

Brian Gabay: 20:18         

Right! Thank you so much. You’ve created such an amazing platform. Again, honored to be on your podcast. I really appreciate your time and cheers to 2020 this is going to be an incredible year for all of us. I just know it.