My Life Won’t Be The Same

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Dear Elida,

You joined us just a week ago. While the timing was a little off, we were happy to see your screaming face at 6:26 AM on an otherwise nondescript Tuesday morning. Your mom got more sleep than I did the night before you came, though it probably wasn’t the most relaxing. I sat up in the world’s least comfortable bed contemplating everything I thought I had a few weeks to figure out.

Of course, everyone tells you that your life is going to change once your first child arrives. A week in, I can tell you that in a very real sense, it has. It was everything promised to us. Sleepless nights? Check. Google every possible malady when you get a random hiccup fit or act strange? Double check. Eating meals in shifts, during naps, or multitasking? Yeah. You are ruthlessly stubborn and sincerely sweet, all at the same time. You definitely get that from your mother.

What people don’t tell you is the other ways your life changes thanks to a little peanut who tips the scales at less than six pounds.

Your mother and I enjoyed our life before you came into the world. For most of that time, we never felt incomplete or lacking anything of consequence. We spent eight years doing what we loved: seeing places, taking new adventures, and moving. Lots and lots of moving.

When your cousin was born though, we knew we wanted to have a baby. For three years, we didn’t know if it would happen. If you looked at your parent’s browser histories during that time, you would see too many searches about fertility and adoption to count. We talked to friends and family members who had done both. We had started investigating options once things didn’t come as quickly as we had hoped.

As our friends started having kids, we were delighted for them while still wondering when our time would come. There were tears and doubts along the way, too many to count.

We soon found out that our troubles didn’t have as much to do with fertility as it had with your mother’s absent thyroid gland. Adjusting the medication she took to supplement for a thyroid lost to cancer meant we started to see some results. Quickly.

About a year ago, she got pregnant. We were overjoyed. She came back from the store one day with the tiniest socks to tell me. We knew it was possible but we never knew it would be this quick.

When I was in Florida on a business trip, I got a call from your mother and I knew immediately what it was. We lost the baby. I was physically ill, in a beautiful, oceanfront room 3,000 miles away. I flew home as quick as I could, but there was nothing either one of us could do. In that moment, it felt like there was a weight on us, holding us down. I contemplated getting rid of those socks when I saw them in a dresser a few weeks later but decided to keep them.

On a business trip a few months later, I got a call from her saying she was pregnant again. And that she got a promotion, and that we were going to be moving again. Life was going to be busy but we were cautiously optimistic that this would work out.

Lucky for us, it did.

Putting together baby furniture or putting your car seat in the car for the first of a few hundred times never really registered with my brain that something was different. I knew that my life was going to change thanks to you, but other than the superficial ways that everyone talks about, I had no idea what that really meant.

When you arrived, what people couldn’t put into words made sense.

Seeing the look on your mother’s face when she held you for the first time — and I will tell you that newborns are not, in any way, objectively attractive, despite what TV shows seem to suggest — flooded my memories with the thousands of other times she has shown me strength, warmth, grace, kindness, understanding, and unconditional love. It reminded me not just why I initially loved her but why my love for her continues to grow every day. It makes me hope that you have more of her in you than you have of me because even when I haven’t been able to love myself, I’ve always been able to love her.

Holding you for the first time felt like the end of one big road trip and the beginning of the next. It reminded me that the way we get to the biggest milestones in our lives matter. Success and hardships alike sharpened our senses for your arrival. You arrived at the perfect imperfect time, another reminder about the difficulties of executing even the best laid plans.

Having you in my arms that day was one of the best days of my life because of the big and little things along the way that made it possible. And because it happened this way — this unique way — it will change our way forward too. There was nothing to be flippant about. It wasn’t easy getting you here and it won’t always be easy going forward.

I tried putting those tiny socks on but they were still a bit too big. We’ll get to keep them a little while longer, to remind us of the journey we took to get you and a reminder that life will never be the same. Because it never has been.

Love,

Dad

Five Ways to Manage Your Content and Maximize Your Influence

I’ve seen a few people talk about the fact that they have (or don’t have) access to LinkedIn’s latest “thing that isn’t job searching”: LinkedIn Influencer. Now, like other business celebrities, you too can exert your influence on the multitudes of LinkedIn users. You create content on LinkedIn, LinkedIn’s algorithms hopefully share it far and wide, and then you become influential.

I won’t pick on LinkedIn too much — though I will note that if everyone is an influencer, no one really is — but it’s the same thing I’ve seen with other content syndication and non-paid writing gigs. You’ll get great exposure! Write for us often!

I’m not here to judge you if you want to write content for free. I know I have. But, I also mostly get paid to write. That’s important to me, I like doing it and I don’t worry too much about people who don’t get paid.

I am going to judge you if you have a poor strategy when creating content for somebody else, on their platform, for free, and all you hope to get from it is name recognition. The face of content is changing on the web but don’t be stupid about it. Here are five tips to make the most out of your digital content presence:

  1. Don’t just write on LinkedIn (or Forbes, or Huffington Post, or someone else’s site). Unless you are getting cash money to write for these folks, you should probably be judicious in how you use these sites. Understand the terms, particularly their ability to use the piece you create on associated sites and originality requirements.
  2. Create a social hub. You can use WordPress.com, Blogspot, Tumblr, or any number of blogging sites (or you can host it on your own). Copy (or excerpt, if what you wrote has to be original) pieces that you write for these other websites to your social hub and share the pieces from there to your social networks. Any original pieces should obviously come from here.
  3. Buy a domain name and direct it to your hub.  Blogspot and Tumblr are free to use your own domain name with, but the domain name will cost $10. Don’t be cheap and just go for whatever.blogspot.com. That’s a fool’s game. While you don’t necessarily control those sites where you can host your social hub, you do control your domain name which means moving content becomes possible as well as always being able to capture your own traffic.
  4. Include links back to your social hub in everything you write. Even if it is a paid assignment, I’d rather have a link back to my site than an abbreviated bio and it never hurts to ask. If you’re being asked to contribute to a site for free (or you’re doing the contributing to a site), this is the bare minimum. Allow people direct access to where they can find more stuff from you.
  5. Spread your words to different audiences. If you write about the same topics, for the same publications, you’re going to hit a saturation point with the audience. Unless you’re writing to be a writer, you’re usually writing to sell something else (yourself, your business, your idea). Hit diverse publications, especially initially, and if you find one publication does better than most for you, focus there.

One last note: these rules will probably change tomorrow. That’s a problem because I actually wrote this post yesterday. What won’t change is this: ownership and control should always be in the back of your mind if you’re going to play this game. How do you continue to cut out the middle man and take your message directly to people who want to hear it while expanding that audience?

Forced Resignations and Other Noble HR Myths

This week, I read a story on ESPN about how Mack Brown, coach of the University of Texas football team, is going to resign this week:

The source reiterated Brown would not be coaching at Texas in 2014.

“By the end of the week, that will be the outcome,” the source told ESPN. “That will happen. It’s a shame after 16 years he’s not able to do it on his own with dignity and grace.”

I have no idea if it will actually happen, but that part about doing it on his own terms, with dignity and grace? Yeah I’ve heard that song and dance before.

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Coaches get fired and hired all of the time. In fact, Brown’s case is an anomaly. 16 years at one school, as head coach, is damn near impossible. The guy they want to hire — Nick Saban — has had four jobs in that same time period. It’s also not the first time people have probably wanted him gone, either.

The idea that Mack Brown deserves the grace and dignity to part on his own terms (or should have come to the conclusion on his own and fallen on his sword) is a mythology rooted in faux “We Care” corporate double-talk though. Here’s the real deal: when you’re the second highest paid coach in the country and you perform worse than many of the guys making half (or less) of your salary, it’s probably time for the college to cut you loose.

A forced resignation, an encouraged resignation, or a resignation that Texas allows Brown to do on his own terms? It’s a transparent attempt by a weak organization to shirk their decision-making responsibilities.

I’ve been a part of conversations where I’ve encouraged people to look for a new job (after, obviously, many months of working with them). I’ve also been a part of conversations where managers want to let legacy employees hang around while they look for new digs (or, even worse, await retirement). They deserve it, they’ll say. In reality, they don’t want to have the tough conversations or take responsibility. They hope the employee will feel enough guilt to leave on their own or they’ll find something new.

There’s nothing noble in forcing a resignation to keep your own slate clean. Own your decision and make it.

This Surprising 20 Second Video Explains the Decline of Journalism

Sorry, you were tricked. There is no video. But before you go, you should realize that when you click on stories with this kind of title, you’re always being tricked.

When people talk about consumption in the US, they often talk about the mindless stuff we buy. The biggest offender in these critic’s minds are these Black Friday type of events where people stand in line for hours to save a few hundred dollars on a bigger TV. And there is even more outrage about stores that are open on Thanksgiving now for shopping.

When I think about awful consumption patterns though, I think the way we consume information about our world. I don’t want to sound too much like a guy who thinks you should get off his lawn, but while the internet has the great potential to free information from the bounds of corporate or government control, it also has the ability to play to the lowest common denominator.

This isn’t a recent phenomena, either. Upworthy is one of the worst offenders of playing to this demographic (and has a spoof article generator to show how formulaic the whole system really is) but it would be unfair to leave out sites like Buzzfeed, Viral Nova, or even, at times, The Huffington Post.

I think there is something great about getting to the point quickly, or working on provocative titles that invite a reader into a story. There’s also something about being entertaining or funny. But look at this title: “This Surprising 20 Second Video Explains the Decline of Journalism.”   Or this one “This Puppy Taught Me More In 1 Minute Than Anyone Else Has Done In A Lifetime.” What do you get out of that? Do you really think you can get to the core of the decline of journalism or life itself in less than a minute?

Of course not.

Yet, we see these types of articles get traction with readers, time and time again. For example, The Atlantic is running a big series on how energy usage is shifting. None of the articles over the last month have more than a few hundred shares. Meanwhile a post about how Hawaii will ruin you on The Huffington Post has over 10,000 shares.

We can do better, right?

There’s no easy solution and there might not be one at all. We’re not going back to having three TV stations and one local newspaper (and I don’t think that is better).

It’s easy to blame young people for this trend but young people have never consumed the most news (and, at least anecdotally, that’s not who I see sharing this vapid nonsense). While social media contributes to it, there’s always been a market for this and there probably always will be.

Unfortunately, it comes at a time when dollars for advertising are already tight. Journalists will have to decide if they want to go down this path, consumers have to decide if this is the type of media they want to support, and advertisers will have to decide if eyeballs are all that matters.

Sourcing: Beyond Cool Tools to Talent Acquisition Evolution

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I’m a big fan of cool tools. I have an iPad Mini and a Pebble watch. I’m typing this on a Chromebook (and I can’t wait to get the HP Chromebook 14). If there is a writing app out there, I’ve tried it. If there’s a note taking app, I’ve tried it as well. Both usually get relegated because of my love for Google Docs.

As we are wrapping up SourceCon though, what stuck out to me wasn’t so much the latest tips and tools to help those closest to the ground. The biggest takeaway was that sourcing — as a defined, widespread function across multiple industries — is beginning to drive some real, significant, and recognized strategic advantages.

Sourcing old-timers will dispute the notion that sourcing is just now beginning to drive strategic value. And you can go back to the earliest iterations of how sourcing really started and you’ll see many great examples of how sourcing has driven bottom-line results for decades. No joke. I’m not minimizing it one bit.

Between the audience growth here at SourceCon and the maturity of the topics and tools that enable sourcing though, what you’re seeing is an active evolution of how talent acquisition is understood and done on a very essential level. Sourcing is moving beyond the early-adoption phase. Just like it would be insane to manage any sort of requisition load without an ATS, it is increasingly difficult to ignore the essential nature of sourcing for talent acquisition.

Consider me a biased source. I was the SourceCon editor for over a year. But I have no dog in this fight anymore. But this has been festering for years and if it weren’t for a recession that gutted corporate recruiter budgets and decimated agencies, it would’ve happened years earlier.

Three trends that are pointing to this evolution to me:

  • The ranks are getting larger — It’s not just about SourceCon either. The money is getting better as Editor-in-chief Jeremy Roberts talked about in the opening keynote and there are more corporate roles for those who want it.
  • The conversation is changing — Beyond doing the job, we’re now talking about expansion, structure, and strategic initiatives that are critical parts of a larger corporate view.
  • More mature software platforms — The rise of mature sourcing tools is more than an isolated canary in a coal mine. It is an indicator of corporate spending and investor optimism.

As sourcing continues to move beyond early-adopter phase, I think you’ll see:

  • More leadership involvement — Not just increased sourcing leadership but talent acquisition and yes, even HR leaders are going to be taking more notice and be deeply involved in sourcing. The expansion of sourcing is going to have more stakeholders, not less and will require working more closely, not less with these key roles.
  • Talent shortage time — Talented sourcers are rarely without a job for very long. Sourcing expertise, especially at the strategic level, is going to be short for years. There are many educational opportunities for sourcers but look for more companies to build these teams internally.
  • The wide and fuzzy gray line — The line between sourcing and recruiting is going to become more clear, but not for awhile. As sourcers start act more like candidate marketers (focused on demand generation and branding), there will be a clear delineation between the two.

And of course, we’ll still have cool tools. In fact, if the last two years are any indication, the tools of the trade are getting cooler. But, I’m particularly excited about the growth and evolution of sourcing as a necessary functional component of talent acquisition teams everywhere.

Talent in the Cloud: Revolution or Devolution?

548px-Karl_MarxCarmen Hudson recently shared an article about the future of hiring, referencing Elance’s new private talent cloud:

The cloud cuts out waste and that’s why people love it. Companies and individuals call upon storage space in the magical ether as they need it, without spending a penny more than they use. Gone are the days of servers idling half empty in a building, barely used hard-drives cluttering up desks. Everything becomes more efficient, organizations get leaner, the fat is trimmed.

But what if the fat that the cloud cuts out isn’t machine fat at all? What if it’s human fat?

I’m not talking about Fitbit making you fitter or some freaky new plastic surgery in the cloud procedure. I’m talking about applying the principals of the cloud to managing the human workforce. Imagine, instead of just drawing on servers and processing power on an as-needed basis, companies also draw on people that way. A workforce that operates like the cloud, swelling and shrinking at a moment’s notice.

The way organizations are using people in their organization is changing, and it is diverging with two radically different paths and two different promises.

One ideological path takes us away from humans as resources into something of an organizational alignment. Finding people and teams with shared ambitions, moving toward a common goal. The other further entrenches people as resources, to be bought like any other good. Plug and play and if one resource burns out, replace it with another to meet your objectives.

Funny enough, both promise freedom and progress and play with the idea that business ambitions are simply a collection of human ambitions. They just try to go about solving for that reality in a different way.

I don’t have anything smart to add in here other than to acknowledge that this, more than many of the other articles I typically read on the subject, made me think about what work in the future might look like.

The Cost of Availability and Transparency

41nqCuMzvDLI’m on my fourth wedding ring (I’ve only been married once though). I’ve lost a lot of things really important to me (my favorite Portland Trail Blazers hat is in the back of seat pocket 17C on an American Airlines flight, if you ever find it), but the ring thing is always most embarrassing.

Personally, I’ve loved the feel of tungsten carbide rings since my buddy Sam got one when he married. So I got one too, from a traditional jewelry store. I lost that one a very short time later in the Columbia River just north of where I live now. I went to Zales to get a second one only to have it crack. Of course, I went back to them only for them to tell me I should’ve bought a protection plan (for a year old ring that was nearly as hard as a diamond?). Clearly, it was defective but they wouldn’t take it back.

Given that I had spent a few hundred dollars on rings and because my head was hot due to me not getting my cracked ring replaced, I searched for tungsten carbide rings online. And I found out my favorite retailer has them and they are a fraction of what I paid in the past. So after I lost some weight to the point where my ring no longer fit, I didn’t hesitate to go back to Amazon again for ring number four.

I honestly should’ve known better, too. I bought my wife’s engagement ring online in 2004, sight unseen. Why? Because the price was unbeatable, seller’s reputation was impeccable, and the return and resizing policy were awesome. Didn’t need any of that by the way because I nailed the purchase and size.

The reason I bring this up is because transparent pricing and availability is one of the last big disrupters in the enterprise software space. While businesses don’t necessarily shop like consumers (and that’s not necessarily a bad thing), the way that people are evaluating enterprise software is beginning to shift. I’ve heard of well-networked HR pros pulling RFP’s from other HR pros for the vendors they are shopping.

People always want to challenge me on this, too. People always negotiate big purchases! Really? Because the Costco Auto Program doesn’t exist. Because sites like Zillow don’t exist. Oh, and I guess Salesforce doesn’t just do this, right on their stupid website?

I’m not saying somebody is going to pull out their Amex Black Card and put their ATS purchase on it through a web portal (though, they could and they might in the future), but I am telling you that the RFP process is garbage and that someone is going to come in some day with all of your pricing in the region and demand the least lucrative deal on the planet.

And you’ll probably say yes, if only because you want to crack into the mind of an HR pro that comes to the table that prepared.

Laurie Ruettimann had a good post about this and the whole thing is worth a read. Here’s the pertinent quote:

But there is a new generation of human capital and HR professionals who have graduated from top-tier labor programs, have a strong relationship with their colleagues in finance and procurement, and will start evaluating human resources technologies differently. And there are new sales and marketing professionals who have stopped condescending to their clients and now assume that human resources professionals are “educated buyers” with a greater understanding of how technology works.

Someone in your segment will dictate the cost of transparency and availability. If you’re not enabling your buyers to make better purchasing decisions, someone else is. Either that or information availability for buyers about the market is already well beyond your expectations.

Personally, I’m just glad I don’t have a wife who knocks me every time I lose, break, or grow out of a ring.

Life Outside the Cloud

I’ve always been a pretty open book online. Toward the end of May though, something happened that changed that whole perspective. I wasn’t ready to share what happened and I honestly don’t know if I ever will be. But it consumed my mind for months and every time I sat down to write something other than client work, that’s where I got stuck.

Look, I’ve been writing for awhile. Writer’s block has a fairly formulaic way of being overcome. This was different. But weeks turned into months and I never got out of it and I didn’t feel motivated to push it. Outside of posts that I felt were important to get out, not much else happened.

So, what could I do? Well, here’s what I did:

  • I’ve lost about 15 more pounds since many of you saw me at SHRM
  • I moved twice, once in Seattle and now, I’m in Richland, Washington
  • My wife got a promotion, and is still awesome
  • We climbed to the top of Mt. St. Helens with my family
  • Enjoyed one of the most glorious summers in Seattle with lots of time spent with friends and family
  • Did awesome work at The Starr Conspiracy

As soon as I let go the anxiety I had about not writing anything in this blog for weeks at a time, I finally got over the hump. It feels good to be back on the blog and looking forward to sharing more serious takes down the line.

The 2013 HR Technology Conference Discount Code Post

HRT Letterhead

For the last few years, one occasion has marked every summer: an email from HR Technology Conference co-chair Bill Kutik asking me, almost too politely, to post something about the show and to give you a discount code. So if you came here for the $500 off discount code, go ahead and use REHAUL13 (all caps) when you register. I don’t get anything for it, unfortunately.

Now why should you attend the conference this year?

Well, if you have never been and you’re interested in HR technology, this is a conference you have to experience at least once. It’s a show, in every sense of the word, for those affected by HR technology.

That’s not to mention that Las Vegas should be the permanent location of the show and you can’t legitimately reason with me on this point. The fact that you don’t have to go to Chicago and pay a pretty penny a night for a hotel strangely isolated from one of America’s largest cities is the big selling point. If you want to stay at the conference hotel, great. But if you don’t, there are plenty of other great options close-by plus great nighttime entertainment of all stripes.

What I continue to enjoy about the conference are the collection of people I end up seeing again or meeting for the first time at this conference. That, along with the content at the conference, has noticeably improved every year for the last four.

If you have already gone, especially to these last few, you probably know what to expect and whether you’ll be coming. If so, I hope to see you there.

I would also be mistaken if I didn’t mention that this is Bill Kutik’s last run as co-chair of the conference and the first for Steve Boese, who will continue to take the conference to great heights.

Lastly, if that wasn’t enough, come a little early for HRevolution and get an up close, personal view of some of the movers and shakers in the space outside of the stuffy confines of the big show.

I can’t wait for Vegas and I hope to see many of you there. If you’ll be there, make sure to send me a note so we can high-five.