Shifting Gears

As we’ve discussed around these parts in the past, I’ve not been writing here as much as I would like.  There’s lot of reasons (none of them terribly good), but I’ve felt like I should be doing more.  With that in mind, I’m excited to share some news with you.

Starting today, I’ll be porting over to a new site, WordsOnTheDL.Com.  (Clever, right?)  The focus will be less on Lean and/or HR, though those topics will still be part of the show.  Shifting over allows me room to move around a bit more mentally, though, and that could take us to some really interesting places.

So after this post, all the new stuff will be over there.  The archives will still be here, though, so you can amuse yourself with old posts as you like.  I hope you’ll come check out the new digs.  There’s been a lot of work by really smart people in putting it together.  I’ve been very vocal in the decisions made, but despite my best efforts, it still looks pretty great.

Coffee’s ready if you are.

#GivingTuesday – A Special Day for #NoKidHungry



As we come out of the Thanksgiving holiday, it is easy to lose ourselves in the commercial gorging known as Christmas.  It’s the reason Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday (or at the very least, my favorite in the second half of the year).  Christmas is commercial.  Thanksgiving is about feeding the people you love.  With that in mind, I’m sharing this with all of you in hopes it will catch your eye.  Today is Giving Tuesday, a special fundraising day for No Kid Hungry.  And this year, the amazing people at Hickory Farms are matching donations TODAY.

No Kid Hungry connects kids in need with nutritious food and teaches their families how to cook healthy, affordable meals. The campaign also engages the public to make ending childhood hunger a national priority.  This year, more than 16 million children in America will face hunger. That’s one in five. NKH is working to connect hungry kids with the food they need to grow and thrive.

Every dollar you donate will make a huge impact for kids. In fact, just $1 can help connect a child with 10 meals. And with the matching gift from Hickory Farms, that’s 20 meals for every dollar.  If the number doesn’t do it for you, then imagine you have a dollar, and there are 20 hungry children looking at you for help.  And with just that one dollar, you can take care of them.  If that isn’t a powerful image, then imagine feeding one hundred with a five dollar bill.  Or 400 with a twenty.  It doesn’t take much for you to change someone’s life.

If you have children, seen children or have ever been children, you know that there are many things kids cannot do for themselves.  Overcoming hunger is at the top of that list.  Please consider visiting No Kid Hungry today and making a donation of any amount to help reach the $50,000 goal.

It Will Not Stand

However, I continue to try and I continue, indefatigably, to reach out. There’s no way I can single-handedly save the world or, perhaps, even make a perceptible difference – but how ashamed I would be to let a day pass without making one more effort. – Isaac Asimov

The last month has been an important one for my view of the world. Some of my own naivety has come to the surface, my perspective on interpersonal relationships and power challenged, and I’ve had to rethink things that I was pretty sure I was pretty sure about. None of these, I think, are bad things, and I suppose I was long overdue for this kind of spiritual colonic.

Most of this centers on the ongoing story of men and women, especially as we have seen in play out in the Bill Cosby story. Further, I was jolted out of neutral by this Daily Beast article, that reminded us of the men many hold in high regard despite the things they have said and done in their own relationships. Men like Mike Tyson, John Lennon, Sean Connery and Woody Allen. We hear it, we process it, and we move on. And it often leaves no trace after.

When I started talking about these ideas with others in the HR community, which I’ve always thought of as a safe place for everyone involved, I began to hear a very different story. Tales of not just inequity in the way women are treated, but of behavior that I would never have imagined would take place. Of threats. Of coercion. Of the unwelcome and sometimes aggressive advances in exchange for professional courtesy (or to avoid professional sabotage). I found it all very hard to believe, mostly because of my aforementioned naive outlook. But it happens, and it takes very little digging to start getting to the stories.

What I thought was really interesting were the responses I got from others when I started talking about it, and wanting to speak up. While there was no pushback on the fundamental ideals, and some very verbal support, there were a number of questions raised that, I think, reveal much about the way we see the issue.  I thought sharing some of them a good place to start the converstation. For the record, not one of these came from only a single person.

Why do you think you should speak up on this? (Alternate versions: What gives you the right to speak on it? How are you in a position to talk about this?)

This was the most common response. And it’s a very valid question. Two things immediately come to mind:  First, through this process I learned that people I care deeply about are being hurt in ways to which I’ve been blind, and I don’t know how to say nothing about it. This led to a really interesting question about women “needing” the protection of men, and the implication they can’t look out for themselves. That’s neither the case, nor the message. The strongest, most resilient people I know are women in our community. But despite that, the problem persists. And that’s not something we should be OK with.

The second part of that is about acknowledging the problem. I know it’s not coming from all directions, and I know that there are many men in our world that are mindful and supportive. But those who have acted otherwise have caused real damage. And If I hadn’t stumbled into these stories, I would never have known. I’m sure I’m not alone in that. So it is my hope that by talking about the issue, we can start to hold ourselves to a higher standard as a community.

Do you really think writing about it will make a difference?

I don’t know. I hope so. I know talking about it with others has really made me question some of my assumptions. But I know that not writing about it certainly will not bring change. Maybe that’s enough of a reason to say something. I’m not advocating any specific response or outing of the accused as I was asked by someone if I had planned on doing so. Of course the answer is no. I’ve heard stories, and while I trust what I’ve heard, they are not my stories to tell.

Maybe I’m still naïve in thinking we can bring about change by having an honest discussion of the problem. But I’m hoping it is at least a start.

Do you think there is anyone in our space (or in business) that hasn’t treated women differently in some way?

This question led to some really in depth discussions about power and the treatment of others. One of the most interesting piece was talking about what we often think of as “good manners,” which can easily be looked at as “men must take care of women because they are weak.” Simple things like holding the door for someone, where you stand in the elevator, offering to carry parcels, and general deference can all be seen as expressions of power over others. I’ll admit, as a white male, I’ve never given it much thought before now. I don’t know what it would feel like to be on the receiving end. I’d hope it would be taken as intended, but maybe I’m wrong about that, too.

I’m confident that every one of us, with enough reflection, could come up with examples of their own behavior toward someone from any gender/race/religion/orientation that would be looked on as questionable. Maybe it wasn’t because they were [insert demographic here], but does that matter to the other person? Does experience being discriminated against taint every other negative interaction you have? Again, not questions I can answer, but certainly ones I’ve been trying to think through.

As the month progressed, the eye of the nation turned to Ferguson and the violence that has spread since the Grand Jury declined to indict Officer Wilson in the death of Michael Brown. Whatever your views on the outcome, it has highlighted the ways in which people can be terribly inhumane to those around them, in both the names of protection and justice.  And I as watched this scene unfold just miles from my home, my feelings moved from anger and indignation to sadness and disappointment in myself and our community.

Intentions are often overlooked when the behavior is easy to attack, and we forget that the person on the other end of our actions is just that. A person. And people by nature are fragile, needful of others in defining them, in supporting them, in nurturing them, and in appreciating them. While everyone may operate on different levels of need, there is a place for external validation in our collective psyche that drives us to need each other.

So I’m sharing these thoughts for a few reasons.

First, I am terribly ashamed that it has taken me this long to ask the questions and hear the stories of those I care about. And I don’t want anyone else to move through our community as blindly as I have.

Second, I think it is important that we acknowledge this kind of behavior is not OK. And that goes beyond the treatment of women. It stretches across our treatment of each other, and the things that happen on a regular basis. Bullying, lies, theft, gossip, and general disregard for the humans around us are so much less than we each deserve.

Third, I hope by speaking up I can be part of more discussions on the topic, learning more about the people around me and finding ways to support them. By doing so, I know I’ve already had some of my long held beliefs not just questioned but changed, and I think I’m a better person for it.

For some reason, as I thought through this, I kept coming back to The Big Lebowski and the repeated proclamation, “This aggression will not stand, man.”  At its core, this is about aggression towards those around us.  And it will not stand.

We owe it to ourselves and each other to speak up, to question, to listen, and to commit to being better.  And while a blog post certainly isn’t the answer, maybe it can be part of getting to one.  I hope that you’ll take a moment to think about the issue and talk to those with whom you are close. The conversation might just change your outlook on the world. Or theirs.



Servant Leadership: Dice


After my recent post on the great things being done by people in our space, I decided this is too important of a topic to not continue.  And my promise to you is I won’t ever pimp out a company that I do any business with unless I tell you.  I’m keeping an eye out for great stories on servant leadership in the HR tech space.  Feel free to send me any stories you have on the topic!

I am partial to good people doing good work.  Over the last couple of years, I’ve had the pleasure of working with the team over at Dice and see how they are working to both support and innovate in our space.  This seems like a good time to share a couple of those stories.

First, the work Dice is doing in the HR space is pretty great.  I love Open Web (and I’m not a recruiter, which means mostly I just admire it from afar).  I like any tool that makes life easier, and a system that pulls together data from so many sources to create a full picture of the candidate is just that.  In some of my conference sessions, I reference my favorite Jay Kuhns quote, “We used to recruit like Abe Lincoln did.  We put an add in the Gettysburg Post and hoped someone read it.”  Open Web gets recruiters off of that mindset by giving them a much better look at where to spend their time.  While there is sometimes the belief that job sites are invested in pushing as many links to the page as they can, the Dice team has moved to make it easier to spend time on the high quality candidates to get the best fit.  And I dig that.

More than that, though, I am eternally grateful for the wonderful partner Dice has been in our space.  They have invested a lot of time and effort into supporting the social media space, including sponsorship at big conferences (like SHRM annual) and smaller, more focused events (like TalentNet).  Both segments are important to our space, and the Dice team not only contributes their dollars in support, they show up and work to make the events better.

Personally, I’m also in their debt for their support of our annual No Kid Hungry event, helping us raise thousands of dollars for a great cause.  I know that when it comes time to start planning, anything we can dream up will get the support of Terry Starr and her team, MaryLou Garcia and Cathy Erickson.  They’ve been wonderful partners, and have used their resources to make the world a better place in a way that has very little to do with their services.

I can hear the cynics out there.  Yes, yes, of course they benefit from it, in brand exposure if nothing else.  But there are a ton of companies in our space who do nothing of the sort.  We should be spending our time celebrating those that choose to do, that choose to contribute, that choose to help.  Doing nothing is easy.  Being an innovative company that changes the space and works to support our varied passions?  That’s pretty rare.

Thanks Terry, MaryLou and Cathy.  I can’t tell you and the team how much you are appreciated.

In Praise of Single Parents


In the process of unwinding from my last trip, I indulged in a short marathon of my TV pleasures, including The Walking Dead, The Flash and (germane to this post) Arrow.  Specifically, I had a moment in watching The Secret Origin of Felicity Smoak that inspired me to stop watching and write.  In it, one of the principle characters (the aforementioned Felicity, played by Emily Bett Rickards, is visited by her mother, Donna (played to the hilt by Charlotte Ross).  Donna, as we learn, is a cocktail waitress from Las Vegas, and is somewhat of an embarrassment to her daughter.  Her father was a genius who disappeared at some point, leaving Donna to raise Felicity on her own.  It’s worth noting here that Felicity is a genius in the tech world.  (And part of a long running storyline with Firestorm, one of my favorite characters, who may be introduced in the Flash series at some point.  But I digress.)


ANYWAY, at one point Felicity is held at gunpoint (long story).  Donna threatens her captor (Cooper, a former boyfriend, played by Nolan Funk), who is as submissive as buy guy code dictates.  Here’s the relevant exchange:

Donna: Don’t you dare threaten my daughter.

Cooper: And here I thought you were all nails and hair.

Donna: Try a single mom who’s worked 60 hour weeks in six in heels for tips in order to raise that genius child you see right there.

(Truth, I get a little teary watching that scene.  What?  I’m not a robot!)

Look, we all have responsibilities that we deal with.  It’s part of growing up.  But it is easy to forget that the normal sacrifices we make on a regular basis to do right by those tiny humans we dragged into this world are magnified for the single parents among us.  Even if they aren’t alone, the splitting of the martial unit, for any reason, amplifies the burden on the primary caregiver.  (If you are a parent, and the phrase “primary caregiver” makes you wonder if that is you, it isn’t.)

For most of us, we work to provide something better for the next generation than we had.  For the singles, from those I know, there is something else as well.  A drive to succeed in the face of their challenge.  To overcome the perceived deficit faced by a child of divorce.  The need to prove that you can do right by your children and by yourself.  And you can.  As has been proved so many times over.

This isn’t a groundbreaking thought, and it’s not one that many will argue with.  But I’ll say it anyway.  I respect the hell out of the single moms and dads that I know, including both those that have managed to work out a co-parenting scheme and those that haven’t.  Out jobs as parents is to raise the next round of adults, and the burden laid at their feet is not just difficult, but critical to our society as a whole. Thank you for your service and your moxie.  You all deserve more recognition than you are likely to get.  But my pledge to you is that I will buy you the beverage of your choice, day or night, any time you can find me.

It’s not much, but it’s the least I can do.


Dubai – City of Glass and Growth


I was fortunate enough to get a chance to visit Dubai this week.  If you’ve never been, it’s worth the flight over.  A beautiful city, built on twin pillars of opulence and arrogance.  Man made islands built from the endless supply of desert sand are home to top end resorts and amazing homes.  Buildings fly up seemingly overnight, made of glass and steel.  Fascinating architecture including building of all shapes, sizes and method, including one that when finished will include a full 90 degree twist from top to bottom.  I’m shocked they haven’t figured out how to make a building out of a moebius strip.  Not that I’ve seen anyway.

One of the highlights of the trip was the chance to meet Ron Thomas, CEO of Great Places to Work Institute Gulf.  (HT to Crystal Miller for setting it up.)  Ron and I had a lovely conversation, and my eyes were opened up to the world he lives in.  A few things I took away from the discussion…


HR Infrastructure – Dubai, as a city, is only really about 25 years old.  At the end of the Gulf War, many foreign trading companies in the region moved operations to Dubai, and growth started to skyrocket.  That means the power structure of these companies, which has been fairly static for a long time, is nearing the end of their time, and HR leadership roles are opening up more and more.

Opportunities – A western education goes a long way in Dubai.  Someone coming to the market, with the right introductions, can take a role here and fast forward their career by years.  There is very much an appetite for moving the entire business forward, and many of the things we are seeing as common practice (moving away from transactional focus, building on strategy, talent attraction and so forth) are in high demand.  A couple of interesting observations Ron shared with me were that in any given social interaction, 80-90% of the players are expatriates, and most of the children of high ranking leaders, especially those who are from the region, are born in the states.  There will soon be a viable population of workers who are born in the states, raised in the Gulf, and are very valued commodities in the business and political world.

Networking – The circles run deep and wide, and the art of forming connections is the key to business.  In an hour long meeting, you can expect to spend the first 45 minutes getting to know each other, then five or ten hammering out business.  Being open about what you are trying to accomplish goes a long way.  For those of us based in the states, it becomes critical to take the first step to establish ourselves in the region, usually at our own expense.  From there, you can build off of those connections and relationships.  There is a demand for knowledge in the region, but if we want the chance to share what we know, it is on us to take the leap.

Aside from being a great source of local knowledge and ambassador to the area, I think it worth noting that Ron is also a man who knows how to wear a suit.  (Ron, if you read this, I’ve got to know where you picked that number up.  Slick.)  I appreciate a snappy dresser, and Ron has clearly leveraged access to the quality available in the area.  Makes we wish I had time for shopping.  Maybe next time.

On the whole, a great trip.  There’s no substitute for travel when it comes to learning about the culture of another part of the world.  I hear travel rates get very reasonable in the summer months (no one wants to hang out in the desert when it is hot, apparently) so you may find a great chance to come visit if you try.  It’s absolutely worth the effort.

Vendors and Education – Servant Leadership

I wrote a post a while back talking about the infuriating trend of vendors who speak at events and do nothing but sell. It gives others a bad name, and leaves the audience with a bad taste in their collective mouth. It’s not ok, and I maintain that if you ever see it happen, you are not only allowed but obligated to walk out. The tragedy is that there are many of us in the vendor space know our topics, know what matters, and have a lot to love for HR. And too often, that is forgotten.

So I wanted to take a moment to share a great example of people in the vendor space who not only know how to share their vast knowledge without making it a commercial, but who are making the HR space a stronger community in the process.

Anyone who has spent time around Eric Winegardner will know that he is not only brilliant, but he is of the most caring, giving people in our space. And he IS Monster to most of us. I’ve had the pleasure of watching him present several times and have always been blown away by the depth and breadth of his knowledge. I remember at an HRevolution event a couple of years ago talking to Dan Crosby about Eric. Dan’s comment was, “If you are presenting, and Eric is sitting your room, you better be ready because the conversation level is about to be ratcheted up several notches.” That’s the kind of game the man throws.  And that resonates throughout the team.

So it fills my heart with joy to see the Power Recruiter Workshops Monster is putting on right now. (Full disclosure: I do no business, spend no money, and receive nothing from Monster on a regular basis. Just so we’re clear.) Eric, Lisa Watson (who is divine in her own right) and their team are out on the road presenting six hours (SIX HOURS) of free, HRCI certified training for recruiters out in the trenches. It’s been several years since these were offered (the last round, I hear tell, were before Twitter was a thing). The content is designed to teach recruiters how to be, well, recruiters. (Don’t take that lightly. Too often recruiting as a job gets short shrift in the HR world. We like to think anyone can recruit, which is kind of true. But not just anyone can recruit in a way that changes the business.)

How much does the course cost, I can hear you asking. That would be zero dollars. Nothing down, nothing a month. How many new clients does Monster expect to sign at these events? I’m guessing also zero. This is them giving back to our community and making it stronger. It’s what we should ALL be doing, though most vendors in the space pass it over in search of the quarterly sales numbers. This kind of contribution is important, and we need more of it.


I had the chance to drop in on the team, which included Alanna Lombardi, Karla Russell and Paul MacGillivray, in Boston as they were preparing for a session the next day. There was no marketing team getting everything ready. No army of minions making sure there were just the right number of bottles of water, bowls of M&Ms (no browns, of course) in strategically placed areas, no one making sure Eric, Lisa and their team were picked up in black s500 with the interior at exactly 71 degrees. The team were all in the room busting their humps to make sure the people who came the next day had a great experience and learned as much as possible.

You know what that’s called? Servant Leadership. And we need more of it.

I’m proud to know these people, and to think of them as friends. I’m even more proud to work in the same space and share their service with others. If you are in Chicago, New York, Atlanta, Los Angles or San Francisco, and have any interest at all in learning more about the recruiting space (or just in learning in general) check out the upcoming dates in those cities. (Sorry Dallas and Boston. Maybe next time.) More importantly, keep your eyes open for vendors in the space who do this kind of service to our profession and ask nothing in return. Those are the people we should appreciate and support. They are worth your time and attention. Give it up.

The Tao of HR



I’ve been remiss in writing much around here, but thought if you were looking, you deserved to know I’ve a new post over on HRExaminer.  Go check it out!

My #HRevolution 2014 Playlist




The HR Social Media family reunion is upon us once again.  Saturday, Dallas will host the annual love-bomb known as HRevolution.  It’s an event I look forward to every year, never comes soon enough, and is over far too quickly.  A couple of years ago, a threw together a playlist based on session titles and topics, inspired by Paul Smith.  We don’t see Paul enough these days (but he is universally loved and missed), so in the spirit of our friend, I thought I’d put together a list for this year.

There are no hidden messages here.  Just tunes that I dig that came to mind.  Since the agenda features fewer overall sessions this year (but, as I’m not presenting, I will assume they will be of higher quality!) I’ve dropped in a couple of tracks for each session.  If you are attending, you can expect to hear this list on loop in the Lay Wine and Scotch Lounge, opening soon in the Dallas area.

(Oh, and if you are in Dallas this weekend and you DON’T have plans to attend?  Still time to fix that.  There are a handful of seats left.  Someone is always sad they didn’t attend.  Don’t be that guy.)

So here are the tracks per session.  The Spotify playlist is right below, if that is your thing.

Franny Oxford – Reality-Based HR

 – Reality Used to be a Friend of Mine – P.M. Dawn

 – I’m Waiting for my Real Life to Begin – Colin Hay

Bill Boorman – Blueprint for Modern Talent Acquisition

 – Building the Perfect Beast – Don Henley

 – Method of Modern Love – Hall and Oates

Lois Melbourne – Sally Can’t Doodle, and It’s Your Fault

 – Sally MacLennane – The Pouges

 – Lay Down Sally – Eric Clapton

Jason Seiden – Beyond Social: The Rise of Workforce Marketing

 – Social Narcotics – MC Serch

 – One Step Beyond – Madness

Frank Zupan and Tammy Colson (or the ZuCo Collective, if you prefer) – Recruiting and HR: Sibling Rivalry or Tribal Warfare?

 – Brothers in Arms – Dire Straits

 – Big Sister’s Clothes – Elvis Costello

Ravi Mikkelsen – Go Home Assessments, You’re Drunk

 – I’m Going Home – Tim Curry (From the Rocky Horror Picture Show soundtrack)

 – Dead, Drunk and Naked – The Drive-By Truckers

Broc Edwards – Bold HR

 – Comfort Eagle – Cake

 – Bold as Love – Jimi Hendrix

William Tincup and Matt Stollak – HR Half-Baked Ideas

 – A Good Idea at the Time – OK Go

 – Brain Stew – Green Day


Be The Match at #SHRM14



SHRM 2104 is officially underway!  First up a quick look at one a great cause, Be The Change.  They are championed by Robin Roberts, today’s keynote, and are helping to identify bone marrow donors and potential matches with those in need.  It’s quick, easy and painless.  Take a look, then come by the booth!



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