Everyone Loves A Good Story

I love telling stories. I also love listening to stories. Picture me at Barnes and Noble, throwing elbows to squeeze onto a first-row bench to hear a story alongside the kids. They’re my thing.

Storytelling is a skill, something anyone can be good at if they want to bad enough.

But what does storytelling have to do with HR?

In HR, we usually rely on facts and figures to make our case. We get the data, create spreadsheets, and present our findings in meetings, hoping to persuade others with logic and evidence.

Seth Godin once said, “A statement of fact is insufficient and often not even necessary to persuade someone of your point of view.”

Think about it: Have you ever been in a meeting where someone shared a compelling story that completely changed the tone of the conversation?

Maybe it was a personal story about overcoming a challenge or a funny one that broke the tension in the room. Whatever the case, stories have a way of resonating with people on a deeper level than facts alone.

Seth’s goes on to say: “Politicians, non-profits and most of all, amateur marketers believe that all they need to do to win the day is to recite a fact. You’re playing Monopoly and you say, “I’ll trade you Illinois for Connecticut.” The other person refuses, which is absurd. I mean, Illinois costs WAY more than Connecticut. It’s a fact. There’s no room for discussion here. You are right and they are wrong.

But they still have the property you want, and you lose. Because all you had was a fact.

On the other hand, the story wins the day every time. When the youngest son, losing the game, offers to trade his mom Baltic for Boardwalk, she says yes in a heartbeat. Because it feels right, not because it is right.

There are lots of ways HR pros can better use storytelling: sharing personal stories in presentations, using storytelling techniques for engaging training materials, or integrating employee stories into company communications. Stories have a unique power. They allow us to share our experiences and values, and inspire others to action. In HR, this means going beyond the numbers and presenting information in a way that actually sticks.

Stories make connections.  Connections drive people to act and behave differently.  Things change when behaviors change.  Facts don’t do that – connections do that. Stories do that.

That’s my mission, and I’m sticking to it!

Most companies have fancy vision and mission statements. But let’s be real, living up to those missions often feels like a stretch. Don’t get me wrong—I’ve always been loyal to my employers and employees. I’d get the company logo tattooed on my ass if they asked.

But most of their mission statements are just plain boring. They all seem to say the same things: Quality, Integrity, Service, Innovation, blah, blah, blah.

Does anyone really think, “What the world needs is a company that makes lousy products, lies to customers, and treats employees like dirt”?

We work with a partner of the U.S. Army that blows me away with their “mission”. Every person there, from the janitor to the accountant, understands what their work means. Even if their job is literally sweeping the floors! They know that every product they make could save the life of a soldier they’ll never meet. These soldiers aren’t just names on a list; they’re someone’s family. Every day, these employees show up to work with one goal: to make sure their products protect those who defend our freedom.

Now, that’s a real mission!

When I was in HR at Applebee’s our “mission” was simple: make sure customers got their food hot and didn’t run out of drinks. It’s important for business, sure, but it’s not exactly changing the world, you know?

Take a look at your office’s mission statement. Does it really mean something to you? Because if it doesn’t, you might start feeling pretty blah about your job.

Having a sense of purpose matters.

It doesn’t have to be about saving lives, like it is for some people. I run a staffing company, and my mission is clear: I help people find jobs. And let me tell you, especially in tough times, that feels really important.

It’s great knowing you’ve made a difference in someone’s life by helping them find work. And even when times are good, I’m still on a mission—helping people find even better jobs or helping companies find top-notch employees. That’s my mission, and I’m sticking to it!

Timmy’s Takes on Graduation

As graduation season rolls around, so do the inspiring speeches that mark the milestone. While each speech may seem unique, are they really? I swear there’s a secret recipe behind most of them. Let’s break it down:

  1. Get Them Excited: Make the graduates feel like they’re about to achieve something big, not just join the workforce.
  2. Empower Them: Encourage graduates to believe they can make a real difference in the world. (Because they totally can/will!)
  3. Show Them the Possibilities: Open their eyes to the many opportunities that lie ahead. They’re endless!
  4. Remind Them of Their Value: Assure them that the world is eager for their contributions.

Now, imagine a commencement speech that goes beyond the usual clichés. One by yours truly. Here’s a peek at the topics I’d cover:

1. Work sucks, but being poor sucks more. Don’t ever think work should make you happy.  Find happiness in yourself, not what you do.

2.  You owe a lot of people, a lot of stuff.  Shut your mouth and give back to them. Stop looking for the world to just hand you stuff.

3.  No one cares about you. Well, maybe your mom & dad. Everyone else cares about what you can do for them. Basically, you can’t do much, you’re a new grad.

4.  Don’t think you’re going to be special. 99.9% of people are just normal people, so will you. The sooner you come to grips with this, the sooner you’ll be happy. I know it’s morbid, but reality is hard.

5. Work hard. And then harder. Almost always, the person who works the hardest has the best outcome in life.  Once in a while, a person who doesn’t work hard, but has supremely better talent or connections than you, will kick your ass. That’s life. Buy a helmet.

6.  Don’t listen to advice from famous people.  Their view of the world is warped through their grandiose belief somehow they made it through hard work and effort. It’s usually just good timing. Okay, maybe hard work too.

7. Find out who you care about in life, and make them a priority.  In this world, you have very few people you truly care about, and who care about you in return.  Don’t fuck that up.

8.  Make your mistakes when you’re young.  Failure is difficult, it’s profoundly more difficult when you have a mortgage and 2 kids to take care of.

9.  It’s alright that sometimes you have to kiss ass.  Get good at it. It doesn’t make you less of a person.

10.  Wear sunscreen.  Cancer sucks.

What do you think? Are you feeling inspired? High schools or colleges interested in a down-to-earth commencement speech can reach out anytime. My calendar’s open, and I’m ready to deliver a speech that hits home!

The Day 1 Speech

Are you or someone you know stepping into a new leadership role? This guide is for you!

When starting out as a leader, there are two things you bring with you:

  1. Your resume
  2. Your speech

Your resume is easy. It’s all the crap you did in your career to this point. You’ll be judged on that resume by your new team. It can go several ways, but usually, if you get hired, you have the resume to back it up.

Crafting your Day 1 speech is the important part. It’s your chance to share your vision, goals, and leadership style with your team. Here’s what your speech should cover:

  1. Why you’re the right person for the job and what drives you.
  2. Your role and objectives within the organization.
  3. How the team fits into your plans.
  4. Clear metrics for success.
  5. Insights into your leadership style.

Although it might be tempting to wait until you’re more familiar with the team, it’s important to deliver your speech early on. Your Day 1 speech sets the tone for your leadership and builds trust with your team. Get ‘er done!

You are now the leader. All eyes are on YOU for the answers. You might not have any of them, yet, but you better make it sound like you have them, or you’re about to discover them!

You only bring two things with you into each new position. You only control one of them, at this point. Don’t miss.

The 30,000-Day Challenge

Consider this: If we’re lucky, each of us has around 30,000 days to live. (Go ahead, calculate it!) It’s a good guess. However, 30,000 days is an optimistic estimate. Many won’t reach that number, and even if we do, those 30,000+ days might not be our best days.

So, what are you doing with your 30,000 days?

Personally, I’ve already lived through a lot of days (please don’t do the math this time), and within those days, I’ve accomplished some remarkable things—building a loving family, nurturing a fulfilling career, and sharing my life with cherished companions (ahem including writing to all of you).

Here’s what I’ve learned from my perspective:

  1. Reassessing Daily Value: I mean, I value all that I have and my life, but it gets lost on the daily basis of life. I get the big picture, but the small picture overtakes it constantly.
  2. Amplifying Enjoyment: I am not enjoying what I enjoy enough. If our time is limited, shouldn’t we savor life’s enjoyment more deeply?
  3. Prioritizing Loved Ones: Ultimately, our time together is irreplaceable. I prioritize quality moments with those I love over anything.

I believe many of us share these realizations. We’re all racing through life until we suddenly grasp that we don’t want to win this race after all. We’ll slow down and say, “I’ll catch up later!”

This doesn’t mean I’m ready to give up my possessions and wander like Caine from Kung Fu (Google it, Millennials!). Work is important, but so is play. Balance? The 30,000-day clock doesn’t care about balance; it keeps ticking.

In my 30,000 days, I aspire to leave a positive mark on the world. For each of us, that mission varies. Some want to care for the sick, preserve the environment, or aid the homeless. Be famous. Be rich. The list goes on. For me? I aim to raise three young men who will continue this legacy, making the world a better place in their own way. If I devote my 30,000 days to being the best Dad I can be, I’ll consider it a life well-lived.

What will you do with your 30,000 days?

Lessons from Past Jobs I’ve Had

When I started college, HR wasn’t even on my radar. Was it on yours?

Here’s how it unfolded for me:

I got a degree in elementary education with dreams of shaping young minds. Teaching seemed like a fulfilling path, with the perks of summers off and being one of the few guys among a sea of female teachers. I was sold.

After a bit in education, I transitioned into sales and recruiting. I liked to talk – so these worked well for me. But, luckily, from here I stumbled into HR through a client who mentored me into it.

Here are five skills from those earlier jobs that helped me in HR:

  1. Confidence: Teaching taught me the importance of confidence. Kids are like sharks (kinda) – they can sense fear. Similarly, in HR, confidence is crucial when dealing with constant questioning and crazy situations.
  2. Positive Attitude: Positivity was my mantra in sales, and it serves me well in HR too. No one likes a negative Nancy. HR is often associated with negativity and maintaining a sunny outlook can make all the difference.
  3. Proactivity: Instead of waiting for problems to arise, I learned the value of being proactive. This way of thinking has been really helpful in HR. It’s all about being proactive and getting ahead of problems before they become big issues.
  4. Humility: Balancing confidence with humility is a fine line. In teaching, not keeping promises hurts your credibility. With the kids, with peers, everyone. Similarly, in HR, being humble builds trust and reliability, which are important for good relationships in the organization.
  5. Persuasion: Whether convincing students or candidates, persuasion is a skill I honed in previous roles. In HR, the ability to sell ideas and projects is paramount, whether it’s advocating for a new initiative or garnering support for organizational change.

These skills have not only helped me excel in HR but have also empowered me to effectively advocate for the tools and technology necessary to drive organizational success.

That’s my journey. What about yours? Which skills from your past experiences have proven indispensable in your HR career?

Don’t Just Wait to Be Discovered

As a recruiter, we’re always on the lookout for talent. Whether we’re at work, running errands, or enjoying time off, we are constantly searching for people with the right skills and drive.

But, I’m here to tell you, opportunities won’t just land in your lap. If you’re waiting for someone to find you, you could be waiting forever.

Because recruiters don’t stumble upon talent by accident. They look for people who are actively showing what they can do. Every single day. It’s like trick-or-treating – we only go where there’s a light on.

Too often, I meet people who want a new job but aren’t doing anything about it. They’re afraid to let their current employer know they’re looking. But that’s not the best way to get noticed.

Instead of waiting around, get involved. Connect with others in your industry and community. Let people know what you’re looking for.

Even in today’s job market, there are plenty of opportunities out there. But you have to put yourself out there to find them.

So stop waiting to be discovered – go out and make it happen. Success isn’t luck; it’s hard work.

HR and Recruiting: The Unspoken Rules

Some unsaid rules guide us through HR. They’re not really hard and fast rules, just practical tips that we’ve learned along the way. Let’s break them down:

  1. Stay away from personal questions in interviews.
  2. Keep reference checks simple – just confirm dates of employment.
  3. Guard employee files like they’re top-secret.
  4. If it’s important, put it in a policy.
  5. Take every accusation seriously and look into it.
  6. “Mutual decision to leave” usually means otherwise.
  7. Measurement gets things done.
  8. Be careful about setting precedents.
  9. Expect things to go haywire on day 2 of your vacation.
  10. A candidate hasn’t really accepted the job until they show up to work on Day 1.
  11. If it’s on the ‘roadmap’ of your HR or Recruiting technology vendor, it means it’s not actually built and might never be built.
  12. Employees tattling on others probably have their own issues.
  13. Employee harassment stories are rarely simple.
  14. Open enrollment meetings need cookies.

We love our rules in HR! Ironically, I love the profession so much because I’m a low-rules kind of person. The reality is, in my couple decades of HR and recruiting work there really has only been one Rule of Thumb that has been the same at every organization I’ve worked in. Big and small. Public and private. Across all industries…

– Things change.

This basic principle reminds us that flexibility is crucial in the ever-shifting HR landscape. What’s your go-to rule in HR and recruiting?

Here’s an idea, just do the job you were hired for

Every day, people get worked up over stuff they can’t control. Everyone’s telling you to be this or that, depending on the latest trend or generation.

I’ve stopped listening to people who don’t know my job or haven’t been in the field for ages. Instead, I talk to my employees – the young, the old, and everyone in between. They all matter because they all contribute to moving the organization forward.

I don’t care about what others think; I focus on what my employees are telling me. Their problems are personal, from daycare and student loans to health scares. Forget the big world issues; help them with the close ones first.

Your employees are individuals with their own problems, and millennials aren’t college kids anymore. The newbies might have different labels, but they’re still young people with their own issues.

At the end of the day, employees want to succeed. Helping them be successful is my top priority as a leader. Success is personal, so I figure out how to tie it to the organization’s goals.

We keep letting others tell us how to do our jobs. I’m sticking to doing the job I was hired for because, frankly, no one knows it better than me. Maybe we should all just focus on doing the job we were hired for.

The 10 Rules of Office Romances

So, I’ve dished out some rules before—actually, a lot of rules. You’ve probably seen my guide on Rules for Hugging at the Office, but let’s face it, office romances are trickier than a casual side hug in the hallway. In case you need a refresher, here are my no-nonsense rules for office romances that you can share with your team.

Rule #1 – Avoid falling for someone you supervise. But let’s be real, it happens. If you find yourself in this situation, be prepared to either quit, get fired, change departments, or witness the person you’re involved with facing similar consequences.

Rule #2 – Steer clear of anyone in Payroll. Messing with them may result in a temporary paycheck glitch, and even when it’s fixed, errors might haunt your payslip forever. Just don’t mess with payroll.

Rule #3 – Keep the office and office grounds off-limits for romance. I get it, love is in the air, but security footage is forever. Don’t give us reasons to laugh at your love escapades long after you’ve left.

Rule #4 – Save the explicit emails for after hours. It’s not that I won’t enjoy reading them, it’s that I get embarrassed when I have to read them aloud to the unemployment judge at your hearing. Trust me, it’s awkward.

Rule #5 – Don’t get involved with a married colleague. Even if you’re the work spouse, remember it’s not real. Reality hits hard when the actual spouse shows up, possibly keying your car in the parking lot.

Rule #6 – Choose someone with good performance. Falling for a stellar performer is a win-win. Don’t complicate things by getting entangled with someone who’s about to be shown the exit. It just makes life easier for everyone.

Rule #7 – Inform relevant parties ASAP. Movie dates are no big deal, but waking up in a different bed than your own might be. If there’s any hint of conflict, let someone in HR know. They’re there to help figure things out.

Rule #8 – Trust your instincts. If it feels wrong, it probably is. Don’t rationalize a questionable relationship. Saying things like “If this is wrong, I don’t want to be right” is a clear sign that it’s time to reassess.

Rule #9 – No need to hide your relationship. We’re all adults here. If you’re considering keeping it under wraps, that’s a red flag. Normal relationships don’t need to be hidden.

Rule #10 – We all know. Seriously, office romance isn’t as discreet as you think. We see the frequent stops at their desk and the suspicious stairwell visits. We’re not oblivious. Cut it out.