Exceptionalism is the New Normal

It’s the fall HR and TA Conference season. Pretty much every single week between September and December you can find multiple HR and TA conferences to attend around the world. It’s a crazy business all fueled by vendor expo dollars, pseudo-thought leadership, and a professional desire to get away from the office for a few days.

The entire conference is built on this secret. The secret that all you have to do is show attendees how bad they suck and they’ll keep returning year after year! Part of that secret, though, is not flat out telling you that you suck, because, well, that would suck! It’s showing you how great everyone else is, so you feel like you suck in comparison!

“Holy crap, Google is now building their own genetically perfect mix-raced, mix-gendered employees that never call in sick! How are we ever going to compete with that? We need to get better! We better buy some more of this crap in the expo to help us catch up with Google!” 

When all you hear about is the greatest and top innovations in an industry, you begin to believe everyone else is there except us, we need to hurry and get there as well. The reality is, we are all so far from perfect it’s actually a little bit scary.

Exceptionalism is the concept that is everyone is great. If we are all this unique and perfect snowflakes, then none of us are really unique and perfect snowflakes. Meaning, if everyone is unique and perfect than that becomes the new normal, the new average.

This is best practice in HR and TA. Google’s innovation becomes Walmart’s best practice. If we are all doing the same thing, we are all average. They don’t tell you that when you book that $500 plane ticket and pay $1995 to attend the HR Universe Conference at the Best Western Plus in Biloxi, MS!

That’s not part of a conference value proposition! Hey, pay $4000 in travel and registration to be like everyone else! Unless, you feel like you’re first less than everyone else! The reality is 99% of TA and HR shops are all about the same. Some are better at certain things than others but then suck way worse at something else.

The truth is…

– Building great HR and TA isn’t about major change, it’s about continual, disciplined improvement and always striving to get better outcomes that your business needs for better results.

– Trying to keep up with the 1% will almost always get you fired as a leader because the majority of organizational leadership just don’t value being in the 1% enough to make that commitment to get there and you trying to push them there will wear thin.

– Most of you aren’t wired or willing to do what it will take to become a truly exceptional HR or TA shop. That takes major vision and major sacrifice to reach, and most of don’t have that level of vision or are willing to have that level of sacrifice individually, let alone both.

But, that message above, doesn’t sell conference passes! Telling you that you also can be a unique and perfect snowflake sells conference passes. You just need to trash your current tech stack and build something completely new, like Google!


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