Sputnik - The launch of the 8 Man Rotation

by Matthew Stollak on Thursday, April 28, 2011

The combination of sports and HR has been a running theme of this blog since its inception.  In this large world of ours, its not surprising to find some like-minded folks covering the same topics.   With that in mind, I, with the assistance of Steve Boese, Kris Dunn, Lance Haun, and Tim Sackett have put many of our sports- and HR-related posts into one, easy-to-read e-book entitled "The 8 Man Rotation."  Years in the making! 40 posts!  100 pages!   It even includes a foreword by Bill Kutik and Laurie Ruettimann.

What is the 8 Man Rotation?  Read the book on SlideShare!  Get it on pdf here!  Enjoy!

We hope this is the first of what will become a yearly production.  So, look for the 2011 8 Man Rotation in January of 2012!

Carnival of HR - 4/27/11 Edition

by Matthew Stollak on Wednesday, April 27, 2011

With the HREvolution Unconference looming this weekend, I have the enviable task of providing the pre-conference Carnival of HR.  As noted earlier, since HREvolution should be about evolving and change, the blog posts I want should answer one of the following questions:

1.  What was your favorite blog post you ever read and why?
2.  What was the blog post that pushed or influenced you to evolve and change and why?
3.  What was the blog post that influenced you to get into blogging and why?

Let's get to the results:

R.J. Morris nominated Steve Boese's "PBR, Irony, and Duct Tape."  According to R.J., "Steve does an incredible job of taking the reader somewhere unexpected.  He weaves marketing, youth rebellion, branding and the decline of manufacturing into a powerful story about being a father and the irony of generational differences.  It’s a very powerful post."

Steve Browne nominated Paul Smith's "Songs About Work 3-D."   In Steve's words, "I began reading Paul long before I started a blog myself.  It was so cool that he combined music with work because I have been doing that for the past 8 years through the HR Net, and I didn’t know that anyone else in HR made the connection.  Paul’s blog keeps it real.  He is genuine, poignant, thoughtful and edgy.  I like that in HR and identify with it.  Living on the edge of HR is so much more exciting vs. fighting from the inside out."

William Gould nominated Charlie Judy's "The Care and Feeding of Your CFO."  According to William, "(Charlie's blog) was one of the first HR blogs that I found and read; his writing certainly influenced my decision to create a blog of my own (HR Soot).  What struck me most about Charlie's writing was his raw honesty, direct approach to real HR issues, and the authenticity which pushed against the traditional, neutral HR voice.   Since the summer of 2010, I've discovered a number of great blogs and bloggers, and have grown to appreciate and respect the progressive, business-minded HR professionals that exist in the spaces between the traditional HR noise.  But, Charlie's blog was the one that ignited an idea in my mind that perhaps I too should join the public discussion about what HR could be in the future."

New to Twitter and blogging, Chris Fields, cites the inspiration for his blog is the Evil HR Lady herself, Suzanne Lucas.  In his most recent blog post, Chris writes, "... while researching human resource blogs, I came across the Evil HR Lady. The moniker was enough to intrigue me and her articles and postings were pretty good too. They were thought provoking, insightful and informative. At the time, I was still not sure if this was something that I wanted to be involved in and not sure if blogs really had an impact. Until one day, I read a post ("Why Workplace Bullying Should Be Legal") and the subsequent comments, the post was about bullying. The article made excellent points about passing legislation regarding bullying but the reaction was down right, wrong!  It got ugly, and personal.....She responded with intelligence, respect and just a bit of clarity.....I gained more respect for the Evil HR Lady....Suzanne Lucas, Evil HR Lady, thanks, you helped me to blog."  Check out Chris' blog for his full contribution.

In her post, "Relationship: Transparency and Trust,"  Lynn Dessert cites as her inspiration Penelope Trunk's "How to Decide How Much to Reveal About Yourself."  Lynn writes, "I was hooked. I spent hours reading about her raw life experiences, marveling in her resilience.  Sure, I walked away with – wow she’s gone through and deals with a lot of crap. However, what sticks in my mind is that she is a survivor with real life experiences. She gets it. And I would love to talk to or meet her, even though she is a private person."  Check out Lynn's blog for her full contribution.

In his post, "The Community DJ and Me," Mervyn Dinnen expresses his praise for Paul Jacobs' "Community DJ." Mervyn writes, "I loved this post because it was simple and well written. The perfect blog. Three paragraphs…one to pose a question, the next to provide an answer, and the final one to explain why." Check out Mervyn's blog for his full contribution.

Dwane Lay gives praise to Trish McFarlane's "I'm Engaged At Work, Are You?" and Paul Smith's "License to HR" as the posts that inspired him to start writing.   Dwane writes, "I went back to the first posts on their blogs I could find where I commented.  I’m not saying my comments were all the witty or important, but any post that gets someone new in the space to add their voice is, to me, an important one."  Read about Dwane's first encounter with Trish and Paul, as well as his further thoughts on this topic here.

Bill Boorman cites three posts as his inspiration.  The first is written by his son.  Bill says, "A bit egotistical but when you read it you will understand it. This post is by my 11 year old son on his old blog, To Be frank. Read it and you will understand why it brought tears to my eyes. A complete surprise and best birthday present ever!"  The second is from Steve Newsom when he announced to the world that he was living with cancer.  Bill states, "It’s very moving.  Whenever I’m drawn to feeling stressed, I reach to these posts for hope and inspiration. Without doubt they have shown me the value of living for now, and this post made me extra thankful for what I have over what I don’t."  Lastly, Bill cites his own guest post.  Bill clarifies, "This post didn’t inspire me to blog, it got me blogging. Jeff lipschultz asked me to guest post. Hard to believe that it was only June 2009. I have since written 400+ posts, before being asked I hadn’t considered blogging. I include it not because I wrote it, but to emphasize the importance of asking others to guest for you who have never posted before."

In "Welcome to My House of Words," Ian Welsh discusses his initial entry into the world of blogs, "They seemed really lively. I wanted to join in, but felt nervous about writing the wrong things. I got over that."  He then cites three blog posts worth noting, "I enjoyed the discussions, and then came the beckoning of the blogs. Great stuff written by great people. My first comment was on Mike Travis’, Liars in the Executive Suite post, which, I believe, still holds the record for the most comments (39) on the HR site. I joined Ira Wolfe’s Geeks and Geezers with a couple of comments and otherwise cruised around and particularly to the exotic places Rebecca Morgan (Grow Your Key Talent) described to us. Bit by bit I was being drawn in and loving the lure of the blogs."  Read Ian's full discussion at the above link.   

In "The Start of It All," Shauna Moerke shares the story of her journey into blogging, "I have always said that I credit (blame) my start in blogging to Kris Dunn,The HR Capitalist. His was the first HR blog I ever read and it was from his Blogroll that I expanded my horizons to the Evil HR Lady, Laurie Ruettimann, Lance Haun, and Jenn Barnes (HR Wench I miss your blog and you!"  She concludes, "So big hugs to you KD, for inspiring all of this! You still have one of the best blogs out there and I know I’m not the only one who has benefited from your example. Here’s to you, Cheers!"  Check out Shauna's full discussion at the above link.

To close, I share my own thoughts on the questions.  The inspiration for this blog came from the Cynical Girl herself, Laurie Ruettimann, who pushed me into blogging at the 2009 SHRM Annual Conference in New Orleans (I can faintly hear her saying "sucker" under her breath).   Meanwhile, my favorite blog post was Josh LeTourneau's "Social Recruiting 3.0 - Fast Forward to the Era of Leveraging Conversation and Social Interaction." With its unique perspective and detail, it represents, to me, the apex of blogging and is something for other HR bloggers to emulate and aspire to.

Thanks to all the contributors, and to those who helped to inspire them. 

Every Little Counts

by Matthew Stollak on Monday, April 25, 2011

This weekend, HBO showed the special, "Talking Funny," featuring Ricky Gervais, Jerry Seinfeld, Chris Rock, and Louis C.K., given the title, talking funny.  With that all-star line-up of comedians, you know it was going to be hilarious...and it was.   But, even more so, it was also about work...the work of comedy and being a comedian.  Topics included:

*What is funny?
*Are there lines that shouldn't be crossed?
*Is profanity necessary (Seinfeld, for example, rarely curses on stage)?
*Is it easy to go on stage and make people laugh?
*Do audiences matter?

Toward the end, they get into a discussion of could the average person do what they do?  It leads into a discussion of professionalism.   As they joked, people play touch football in the backyard, but it doesn't cause us to stop watching professional football.  They further joked that people could likely learn perform surgery at home, but it is simply easier to pay someone with a little more expertise.

Definitely worth checking out if you are a fan of comedy, butto gain insight on another profession and how they work.

Kiss of Death

by Matthew Stollak on Monday, April 18, 2011

Last Christmas, I bought my wife the Season One DVD set of "The Good Wife."  Somehow, we missed adding the critically acclaimed show to our DVR during its initial run.  During down time in the regular TV season, we try to catch up on an episode on DVD here and there.  We've only made it through episode 8, but, for whatever reason, it has yet to connect with Mrs. True Faith HR. 

This led to the following discussion - how long does it take for any show to find its creative footing?  I say it takes, on average, 6-7 episodes before a show truly finds its footing; she says it takes shorter (i.e., she is more willing to give up early on a show).

It may simply differ based on the show.  Someone watching the first four episodes of "The Wire" might have found the array of characters incomprehensible.  Some say "Big Bang Theory" or "Seinfeld" didn't reach its peak until season 2 or 3.   The powerful opening pilot of "Lost" started the series off with a bang, but some say it became transcendent with its fourth episode, "Walkabout."  Similarly, the Sopranos started to become the critical favorite with its fifth episode when Tony took Meadow to college only to spot a familiar enemy now in witness protection.

So, what does this have to do with HR?  What is your escalation to commitment with an employee?  How long are you willing to stick with a mediocre employee before severing the relationship?  Are you ending the relationship before the employee has an opportunity to become transcendent?


Thieves Like Us

by Matthew Stollak on Thursday, April 7, 2011

In three weeks, I'll be heading to the HREvolution unconference in Atlanta to present on HR & Popular Culture with the Cynical Girl herself, Laurie Ruettimann.   However, two days prior to the start of HREvolution, I get to present the prime appetizer in the form of hosting the April 27th Edition of the Carnival of HR.

However, instead of simply accepting the best blog posts of the past two weeks, we will be going in a slightly different direction.  Since HREvolution should be about evolving and change, the blog posts I want should answer one of the following questions:

1.  What was your favorite blog post you ever read and why?
2.  What was the blog post that pushed or influenced you to evolve and change and why?
3.  What was the blog post that influenced you to get into blogging and why?

So, instead of promoting our own writing, it is time to highlight the best of others?  Get your suggestions to me at matthew.stollak@snc.edu by Monday, April 25th with "Carnival of HR" in the subject line.  I look forward to seeing the best of the best.

Hey Joe

by Matthew Stollak on Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Last weekend, I attended my 10th NCAA Men's Basketball Final Four in Houston, TX.  Here are some quick observations:

  • Houston is not a great site for the Final Four.  It is very spread out, forcing attendees to rely heavily on cab rides to get around town.   Further, the cab drivers we had were very unfamiliar with the city, and at least 3 times I had to search my smartphone for the address, and even had to enter one address into the cab driver's GPS.  That did not convey a positive view of the city.   Further, the sprawl of Houston made for less of a Final Four feel.  When you are in San Antonio or Indianapolis, the event is much more compact and you see fans everywhere.  Thus, it creates much more buzz and excitement for the event.  Rotate the event in San Antonio, Indianapolis and New Orleans and be done with it.
  • The stature of the Final Four attracts a number of current and former athletes.  Until you see professional athletes up close, you never get a sense of how different they are.  Kareem Abdul-Jabbar?  Tall.   Really tall.  Really, really tall.  Charles Barkley?  Huge - both vertically and horizontally.  Imagine if you could easily identify talent as easily as you could choose height.  Then again, Doug Flutie looks like a weekend softball player.
With sports on the mind, it is time to hype Thursday's HR Happy Hour at 7p.m. Central:

You can learn all you need to know about recruiting, talent management, effective team dynamics, managing star performers, aligning compensation with performance, and succession planning from studying the history of the National Basketball Association. Don't believe it? Where else but in big-time sports can you see the effects of talent assessment, recruiting, leadership, and employee engagement played out, in public, under the spotlight, every day of the year? What players to draft, which ones to develop, which ones to cut loose, and how to build the right mix of personalities and talent to achieve team goals are the primary concern of all sports franchises, and quite honestly, they are the same concerns of organizations in all types of industries. Sure, you might think this show is an excuse for Steve to assemble a bunch of his friends to talk about sports, and you'd be partially right. But sports offers a lens to most the of most critical issues you deal with every day in HR, Recruiting, and Management, so this week we'll try to make the connection. And we will also talk about the Final Four, the NBA Playoffs, and Moneyball. Joining us on the show will be The 8 Man Rotation dream team - Kris Dunn, Lance Haun, Tim Sackett, and Matt 'akaBruno' Stollak. It should be a great show and I hope you will join us.

Shame of the Nation

by Matthew Stollak on Friday, April 1, 2011

Today, I turn over the blog to my friend Jessica Miller-Merrill to talk about efforts to reduce unemployment

No Kidding -- April 1st Proclaimed Zero Unemployment Day

Social media movement launches to change the face of recruitment

04/01/2011 – Why does unemployment stand at 8.9% in the United States when there are more than 3 million jobs currently available?  What part of the recruiting process is keeping positions from being filled?  And how can we fix it?

It is questions like these that will be discussed today as part of the unofficial “Zero Unemployment Day.”  Thoughts leaders across recruiting and human resources industries will pose questions and conversation with their audiences using social media as part of the newly announced Zero Unemployment Movement.

Jerome Ternynck, the Founder and CEO of Smartrecruiters (www.smartrecruiters.com), a free recruiting software, has partnered with Human Resources and Recruiting Expert, Jessica Miller-Merrell of www.blogging4jobs.comto launch the Zero Unemployment Movement.

“Using a social media grassroots effort, we hope to draw attention to the current state of employment,” says Ternynck.  “Unemployment is the consequence of an inefficient labor market.   We live in a connected world in which should be fast, it should be social, it should be fair... mostly it should be easy".

Conversations today on social media will surround the questions posed in many of the movement’s YouTube videos from industry experts including: Why does recruiting suck, What’s your recruiting pain point, and How do we fix it?

Recruiters and those involved in the company hiring process are encouraged to participate in Zero Unemployment Day by posting comments on Twitter using the #ZeroUE hash tag, visiting the movement’s Facebook Fan Page (www.facebook.com/zerounemployment), or by recording a video.

“Let’s get the conversation started about how to fix the recruiting process where it’s a win/win situation for both the company and candidate,” says Miller-Merrell.  “The economy is improving and more than 130,000 job are being added monthly, and yet open positions are taking upwards of 4-6 months to fill.”

To learn more about the Zero Unemployment movement, please contact Jessica Miller-Merrell at 405-343-5751 and by visiting www.smartrecruiters.com/zero-unemployment or view the release live at

Contact: Jessica Miller-Merrell