True Faith HR Replay: Why #HR Should Care About the NBA Summer League #8ManRotation

by Matthew Stollak on Tuesday, June 27, 2017

I'm heading to Las Vegas in two weeks with a few of the 8 Man Rotation folk (Kris Dunn, Steve Boese, Lance Haun) to take in a couple days of NBA Summer League action.  Worth revisiting this July 2013 post.  If you're in the area, come join us.
On July 13-16, I will join three of my colleagues behind the 8 Man Rotation in Las Vegas (we always leave one behind to keep it going in case something befalls the rest of us) for two to three days to catch some NBA Summer League action.
Why do we want to head to the desert in summer time to spend 8-10 hours a day in a gym watching exhibition basketball when those games don't matter?
Because, in actuality, the games DO matter....for those playing.   In his piece on Grantland, Steve McPherson describes what it is like for those involved:

These are guys who have worked their entire lives to be one of the 450 players in the top basketball league in the world. Guys who spent their whole lives being one of the best basketball players in any situation they ever found themselves in. And now it’s just the grind. They’re simply looking for their shot.
The ones hoping for that shot are almost universally flawed in one way or another: undersized or stuck between positions; not good enough at one specific thing to be useful to a team; dogged by problems we can’t even see, the kind of stuff many of us carry around.........
But for these players — who are among the top one or two percent of basketball players in the world — it’s their big chance. Not to become something they’re not, but to see their years of work turn them into what they’ve always been striving toward.

Those playing over these few days in Orlando and in Las Vegas are no different than the applicants to your organization.  They're polishing their resumes,  taking your work sample test, engaging in your role play or simulation, trying to impress you enough to take a chance on them.

For us watching, it will be passing entertainment...but for those involved, it will be all too real, with stakes that truly matter to them.

Three Takeaways from #SHRM17

by Matthew Stollak on Thursday, June 22, 2017

I'm back from another whirlwind SHRM Annual Conference in New Orleans. I've attended for seventeen (17) straight years, so what did I notice in particular about this one?

1.  As always, the volunteers and SHRM staff once again did an exemplary job in putting together a worthwhile conference. Planning a conference is an enormous undertaking, especially of this magnitude, and is reliant upon a number of people working hard in addition to their full-time jobs.  That it exists at all is a minor miracle.

2.  People are never going to be pleased. The complaints have to be taken with a grain of salt, and expectations have to be managed appropriately. The typical litany of complaints I overheard are familiar from previous years:

  • Not enough actionable content.  Schedule yourself better.  The program comes out early.  The presentations are available for download ahead of time. There are not a lot of surprises. The SHRM blog squad put out 150+ posts during the conference.  The SMART stage and the #Take10 sessions provided a ton of great content.  The twitter stream was a blur. There were 900+ exhibitors ready to answer your specific questions.  You had 18,000 peers that you could have approached and bounced ideas off of. If you couldn't find actionable content, you were not looking hard enough. Further, the RFP for the 2018 conference is due July 15. If you think you can do better, prove it. 
  • Lines were super long for the bathroom.  Yes, they were.  Yet, many of the men's bathrooms were annexed and became women's bathrooms. Do you have a better solution? Should they cap attendance?
  • Events started at 7:00 am, and I was tired from the night before.  Go to bed earlier.  They've had 7:00 sessions every year I've attended since 2001.  The game is the game
  • There were not snacks at mid-morning or mid-afternoon.  Are you pre-schoolers?  Is it the responsibility of SHRM to feed you 24/7?  Pack some snacks to take with you.
  • Lunch was mediocre.  You were warned.
  • I had to wait in line for the buses.  The schedule is posted well in advance.  If you want to be closer to the convention center, book your room now (or when housing opens again in November).
  • Long walk to get to sessions/sessions were full.  Yep. Leave earlier. Do you have a better solution?
  • SHRM board members get prime seats at sessions.  Yes they do. Perk of the job. Want better seats? Get to the general session earlier.  Should SHRM start selling prime seats as add-ons to the conference registration?
  • Wi-fi sucked.  Yes, it did.  It was frustrating.  You survived. 
If any of the above are really deal breakers, perhaps the SHRM Annual Conference is not for you.

3.  Why do I continue to attend the SHRM Annual Conference?  HR is continually changing, and what I need to do in my job needs to reflect it. My tribe is there every year to commiserate, share their trials and tribulations, laugh, and learn.  I still get something new out of it each year, and that continually makes it worthwhile for me to attend.

    How Expensive Will #SHRM18 Hotels Be?

    by Matthew Stollak

    While the SHRM Annual Conference just ended, the SHRM Housing Office gave attendees a sneak peek into the prices for the 2018 Conference being held in Chicago, IL, June 17-20.  You, too, can make your early reservation for next year's conference (only good until 6/23...otherwise you'll have to wait until November) by clicking here

    So, how expensive will hotels cost and how does it relate to previous years? To examine this question, I look at selected SHRM conference brochures (i.e., the ones that I still possessed) over the past 17 years to see what it would cost a person to book a single room on a per night average.  Clearly, prices in 2001 will be different than in 2018, so I use an inflation calculator to adjust costs to today's dollars.  

    What do the results tell us? 

    Cost of an Average SHRM-Affiliated Hotel (per night: 6/17-6/20; 1 room, 2 persons) 

    San Francisco (2001): $276.64 (standard deviation of $60.99)
    Chicago (2008): $276.62 (standard deviation of $31.85)
    Washington DC (2016): $274.99 (standard deviation of $32.49)
    Chicago (2018): $272.47 (sd of $17.47)
    San Diego (2010): $264.39 (sd of $45.41)

    Chicago (2013): $260.91 (sd of $21.61)
    Washington DC (2006): $250.57 (sd of $43.05)
    Philadelphia (2002): $235.02 (sd of $62.84)
    New Orleans (2017): $221.39 (sd of $35.56)
    San Diego (2005): $220.80 (sd of $53.84)
    Atlanta (2012): $212.25 (sd of $23.68)
    Las Vegas (2007): $180.73 (sd of $34.83)
    Orlando(2014): $168.55 (sd of $37.51)
    Las Vegas (2015): $147.07 (sd of $23.54)
    Las Vegas (2011): $138.8 (sd of $19.26)

    SHRM 2018 looks to one of the more expensive options compared to previous years.   Rooms, on average, will cost approximately $51 (+ tax) MORE per night than this year's conference in New Orleans.  Add in the expensive hotel tax rate, and that's about the cost of two large Deep Dish pizzas at Gino's East per night you could have had as an alternative.   

    Complicating matters is the very low standard deviation (out of 53 hotel options).  This means there is not a lot of variation in hotel prices from that average, regardless of hotel quality. There are not bargains to be had currently (there could be more hotels added in November).  The five number summary also bears this out:

    Maximum: $305 (plus tax)
    3rd Quartile: $285
    Median: $274
    1st Quartile: $264.75
    Minimum: $235

    Seventy-five (75) percent of the options are more that $264.75.

    What does this mean?  Start saving your pennies.  The silver lining?  SHRM is in Las Vegas in 2019, and as the list above demonstrates, three of the four cheapest hotel options are located there.  You'll be able to stay at 5-hotels at a lower rate than most of the options in Chicago next year.

    See you in June 2019.

    You're Likely Not Going to be Happy about the Box Lunches at #SHRM17. Don't Complain About It.

    by Matthew Stollak on Monday, June 12, 2017

    It's less than a week to the SHRM Annual Conference in New Orleans, and I'm busy reviewing sessions and finalizing trip details, so this will be a short, but important, post.  Here it is:

    Don't complain about the box lunch at SHRM.

    This will be my 17th time attending the event, and I've been on the planning committee for the Wisconsin SHRM State Conference on and off for 10 years.  Do you want to know what's difficult to do?  Planning a lunch for hundreds, if not thousands, of people.  Have you ever had a fantastic, memorable, blow-your-mind box lunch at a conference? Unlikely.  Add in dietary restrictions, allergies, etc., and, for conference planners, it is a monumental undertaking, particularly when there will be over 12,000 in attendance this year.  I know you may have spent a lot of money to attend, but the box lunch won't make or break the conference.

    Guess what? You're going to be in one of the great food cities in the world.  If you're not happy with the choice, take a break from the convention center, and explore the many great food options that New Orleans has to offer.

    The box lunch is not going to be earth-shattering. Its nothing personal.