Meaningful Work Isn’t Just Saving Puppies

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about what makes work truly meaningful. Many HR professionals believe that for employees to be truly engaged, they need to feel that their work is meaningful.

I agree with this idea.

However, some HR pros have misunderstood this concept. They’ve started pushing social causes onto employees, thinking that supporting these causes equals meaningful work.

Tom’s shoes are the best example. Each pair costs around $45, but the materials and labor probably only amount to about $5. While Tom’s donates a pair to a child in need for each one sold, they’re essentially sacrificing $5 of profit per pair. Can we really say this is meaningful work?

So, what’s my idea of meaningful work?

Meaningful work isn’t about saving puppies. It’s not about supporting causes. It’s about employees feeling that what they do every day contributes to the organization’s success. For many organizations, this has little to do with supporting specific causes—although it might for some.

The problem with equating meaningful work with causes is that everyone has their own causes they care about. If an organization defines helping the homeless as its cause, that’s great! But now, they need to find employees who also care about this cause to make work meaningful for everyone.

In HR, we sometimes make the concept of meaningful work too complicated. Instead, we should help leaders communicate better with their teams about how individual efforts impact the organization’s success. Meaningful work is about using your skills to contribute to your organization’s prosperity.

Sorry, we’re not saving puppies or planting trees here – but I promise it’s still going to be meaningful to us!

Staying True to Your Game

The saying “Stay true to the game” pops up all the time. It’s been around in sports and pop culture for ages. Basketball especially! (Side note: who do you have winning tonight?) Anyway, I feel like I keep hearing it more and more.

“The game” stands for your thing, whether it’s sales, accounting, basketball, you name it. For me, it’s recruiting. Whether third-party, corporate, or RPO, we’re all in the same boat.

Being true to recruiting is kind of subjective. What does it even mean?

If you zoom out from recruiting and think about staying true to something you’re passionate about, how do you do it? How do you make sure it’s a priority? What do you do to show you’re committed?

This way of thinking sets the stage for understanding what it means to stay true to recruiting.

Recruiting is my thing. To keep it real, I stick to a few key things:

  1. I soak up as much recruitment info as I can.
  2. I connect with top-notch recruiters.
  3. I swap stories and tips with fellow recruiters.
  4. I’m always looking for ways to improve my skills.
  5. I know that staying loyal to recruiting is a choice I make.

Staying true to recruiting means always aiming higher, personally and professionally.

Sure, it’s not always easy, but it’s about staying true to the game.

So, here’s the deal this Monday. Share what your thing is in the comments below. Then, let us know how you’re staying true to it this week. Go for it.

The Real Game-Changers

I can’t stand hiring managers who don’t want to hire moms because they might need to stay home with a sick kid or take an early lunch to catch their fourth-graders play. Both men and women managers have told me they’re not into hiring moms. It doesn’t sit right with me.

Why? I grew up with a single mom. I remember her choosing where to shop based on how many times she’d bounced a check there. I’d hand back stuff at the checkout ’cause they wouldn’t take her check, and we only had enough cash for a few items.

My mom started her own business, paid her mortgage, and raised two kids. It wasn’t perfect, but we made it. Those experiences shape a kid for life. It makes you appreciate what you have when you know you can live with much less.  My mom became hugely successful after I got out of college and my kids only know her as the grandma that has so much.  I can’t even describe to them the struggle, they have no concept.

The moms I bring in are some of the toughest workers on my team.  They come to work, which for many is a refuge of quiet and clean, and do work that is usually less hard than the other jobs they still have to perform that day and night.  They rarely complain, and usually are much better at putting issues into perspective and not freak out.

When I have a rough day, I try to remember that most of my day is done, but theirs won’t be until they hit the pillow. Old people and moms are the most disrespected of the working class. I swear by that. They are the most underutilized workers of our generation. A woman takes a few years off to raise a kid and somehow she’s now worthless and has no skills.

I don’t even want to write this post because I feel like I’m giving away a recipe to a secret sauce.  All these national recruiting companies are hiring the youngest, prettiest college grads they can find to work for them, and they mostly fail in the recruiting industry. Moms find this industry rather easy as comparable to what they are used to doing.

The real recruiting secret? Moms. They’re the main ingredient that makes it work.

Your Recruiting Process Is Doomed

Here’s the real talk: sooner or later, you or anyone in recruiting will feel the itch to shake things up, thinking it’ll make the process smoother, sharper, or just better. The old ways failed, usually because you didn’t create them, so you figure a makeover is in order to match today’s standards. The revamped process promises to make hiring managers happy and completely change how talent flows into your organization.

Sounds legit, right?

It does, been there, done that. But here’s the kicker – it won’t work. The ‘new’ process is just the same old one with a fancier look. Sure, it might be somewhat ‘better,’ but that’s not the issue. The real problem is you’re missing something crucial. Why the urge to ‘re-process’? Let’s say it’s about getting “more” out of your recruiting game – more talent, more compliance, happier managers, better retention, just more.

But let’s be real. If your current setup was delivering, you wouldn’t be fixing it.

Wondering why the ‘new’ process won’t be your golden ticket either? It’s not because you don’t want ‘more.’ You’re scared of it. ‘More’ means facing things you could dodge in the old routine.

That’s the real reason your ‘new’ process is set up to fail. Deep down, where water cooler talk doesn’t reach, you don’t actually want it to work.

Having a successful process means opening up to failure. It needs hard numbers, accountability, a clear line in the sand that screams “we own this.” Those things spell out success and shout out failure. Success is cool to show off, but no one wants to flaunt failure. So, you go on this ‘re-processing’ spree, hoping to secure success without risking failure. Newsflash: that’s not happening. Success only matters when you know what failure looks like.

Sure, failing as a team isn’t the end of the world, but on a personal level, it’s terrifying. This fear keeps you from building the process your organization actually needs. A process that calls out the winners and the not-so-great players. A process that pinpoints where things need fixing. A process that calls for clear decisions.

Why is your new recruiting process doomed? Because you’re not willing to build one that shows your failures.

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.

2 Steps to Climb the Corporate Ladder

When it comes to advancing in your career, it’s not just about chasing promotions. Let’s say you have been at X company for 5 years and you’re hungry for more. We’ve all been there, right? Here’s what I would say:

Step 1: Put together a self-improvement plan with goals and a timeline. Show you’re working on your weak spots (let’s call them “opportunity” areas for the GenXers).

Step 2: Let your boss know about your plan, and here’s the kicker – ask for their help in pulling it off. Be specific about what they can do to help you reach your goals.

We discussed some ideas based on his “opportunity” areas.

Bosses love promoting folks they’ve mentored. It strokes their ego and scores them points in the organization for developing talent. Hiring doesn’t get them as much credit as promoting does – it’s basic Organizational Behavior 101.

It doesn’t have to be fancy. Bosses like promoting those who show they’re into their job and the company. Taking charge of your development plan and asking for help doubles your shot at getting promoted.

There are a lot of moving factors in this, but if you are working for someone who is respected in the organization, and you have an above-average performance compared to others in your work group, this will almost always play out well for you.

Trying to climb that career ladder? Just follow these two simple steps.

Consistency Matters More Than You Think


Ever wonder what your workplace really wants from you? I’ve spoken to this before.. It’s not about being a superstar, an A-lister, full of energy, or cracking the Top 10%.

The real deal is being consistent—not shining all the time or totally sucking. Just meet expectations. Every day, every week, every year. Dependable and consistent.

But let’s be real, we don’t appreciate consistency enough. We feel the need to be more than just consistent, like it’s some kind of new low.

We’re all about being ‘world-class,’ creating ‘best practices,’ and leading the industry. Sounds cool, but it makes being consistent seem like a bad thing. Truth is, if everyone in our crew kept it consistent, we’d crush the competition.

So, why aren’t we owning the game? Because being consistent is tough. That’s why we chase after rock stars. We need them to make up for the not-so-great ones. Getting everyone to meet expectations is like herding cats.

Next time you’re with an employee who’s just ‘meeting expectations,’ give them a pat on the back. Thank them for doing their thing every day. Imagine if everyone else followed suit—boom, greatness!

You don’t need over-the-top performance to win. Just get everyone to do what they’re supposed to do. Consistency—let’s slap that on a poster and call it a day: “Just do what you’re supposed to do!”

I Love a Rivalry!

I’m all about it – winning, competing, the buzz, and yeah, even losing. Losing keeps you caring about winning.

Not everyone sees it like that, though. Some think we should all just get along and that having rivals is old news.

But here’s my take – real competition with rivals pushes us to be better than we thought we could be. Without that push, we’d never hit our top performance.

The snag with rivals at work is it can get ugly real quick if it’s not handled right. That’s why some folks say we don’t need rivals in society.

A badly managed rivalry, especially at work, can wreck the vibe faster than anything else. It turns into a “me against them” deal, even when ‘them’ is just another part of ‘us’!

But, if done right, rivalries can light a fire under leaders and teams, taking them to some crazy high performance levels. External rivals, like competitors, bring that extra kick. Those are the rivalries we love – kicking the competition’s butt!

Internal rivals can be just as motivating, maybe even more because it’s real. Your rival is someone you know, or at least more than your competition.

This relationship with an internal rival is where the energy comes from, both good and bad. We hope these internal rivalries drive both sides to greatness, but it doesn’t always pan out that way.

Usually, internal rivals end up trying to outdo each other, when what we really want is both sides reaching greatness and cheering each other on. I used to think it wasn’t doable when I was a young leader.

One side wins, one side loses. That’s a rivalry.

But over time, I’ve seen that the best leaders figure out ways for healthy rivalries, getting everyone to back each other up and celebrate together. It’s about plenty – there’s enough success for all of us. As you succeed, and your co-workers succeed, that success lifts us all.

I first saw this in college sports. A coach taught us to push each other as rivals in practice when it helps us be our best. But when it’s game time, we stick together to reach our goal of winning. It’s about the team.

So, leaders, when you’re setting up internal rivalries, keep in mind that concept of plenty and togetherness. It’s about me, until it’s about we. The leader’s got to show us where that line is.

Revisiting Strugglesville

Knee-deep in a daily struggle? Wondering how to shake off the funk and reclaim your day? Let’s revisit Strugglesville in this post from a few years ago.

Have you been struggling lately?

It seems like I go through bits of struggle here and there. The day starts off awesome, I’m getting stuff done, and then life happens and the struggle begins. Could be the boss gave some super-critical feedback on something you poured your soul into. Might be something outside of work (might? okay, probably something outside of work!). Maybe today just isn’t your day.

I know I’ve got a choice. Do I continue the struggle and take it home or pull others into my struggle, or do I pull myself out of the struggle and get back on track? I. Know. That. Is. A. Choice. And still, I struggle with that choice! Do you feel me?

The struggle is real, for all of us. Sure someone else probably has more of a struggle than you, but when you’re in full struggle mode you don’t want to hear that shit. Your struggle at that moment is for real, real!

So, how do I pull myself out of the struggle?

I’ve got a number of tactics I use to pull myself out of the struggle may be one of these will help you in your struggle:

– Find a small win! I’m not looking to save the world, I just need to get one small win under my belt! Maybe that’s not eating Taco Bell for lunch and having a salad (small win for me, yay!). Maybe it’s clearing my inbox (a little bigger win!). Maybe it’s finally having that one difficult conversation I’ve been putting off (small win with a big stress relief). It all starts with one small win, then finding another, and building on those.

– Conversation with a positive ear! I’ve got some friends, peers, co-workers that I know are almost always really positive. I make that conversation happen, and the topic is not about my struggle, the topic is about something that needs to get done, or I need to make better, etc. After those conversations, I feel uplifted and energized to do something, and walk away from the struggles.

– Do something I’m good at or enjoy, that isn’t destructive. Okay, I might be a genius at ordering the perfect Taco Bell meal, but that’s not the good I’m talking about! I’m good at writing. It relaxes me. If I’m in full struggle mode, I start writing. I enjoy listening to music. It helps turn my mood around given the right playlist.

– Helping someone else. Nothing pulls me out of a struggle like being helpful to someone else. I get a positive boost. They get some help. I can return to my previously scheduled programming without the struggles!

I’ll pull myself into one of these three things mid-day if needed, because me working while struggling doesn’t help anyone, including myself.

I would love to hear how you pull yourself out of your struggle. We all visit Strugglesville, how we get home is pretty unique for each of us!

The Truth About Job Hopping

Ever thought about whether job hopping is a wise career move? If you’re old-fashioned like me, you probably concluded it wasn’t. But hold on – playing devil’s advocate here! Let me remind you of a Fast Company article I shared a while back. It claims that job hopping can actually enhance learning, performance, and loyalty. Wait, what?! Do Talent Acquisition leaders worldwide really believe in this concept?

Let’s break it down.

According to the article, switching jobs every three years is key for developing quick job-getting skills and ensuring career stability. But not everyone agrees. (It’s me, hi, I’m the problem! It’s me!)

The truth is, that hiring managers often see job hoppers as a red flag. It might signal a lack of commitment or trouble sticking to a role. While some job hopping could be due to a bad company fit, relocation, etc, repeating the same pattern might make them question your decision-making.

Now, some of you might be thinking, “But Timmy, there’s more money in job hopping!” Well, let me not be the first to tell you, the grass isn’t always greener on the other side, right?

Looking back on my own experience, I hopped jobs early in my career, chasing an executive title. In hindsight, not my smartest move, maybe even my dumbest. Job hopping, as the article suggests, isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution.

Here’s the deal: Avoid job hopping. For every person that it helps, it will hurt ten others. Most hiring managers don’t like seeing a resume filled with short stints, raising doubts about your stability.

So, stuck in the job hopper cycle? How do you make it look better?

Bundle your projects under one consulting job, creating the illusion of a cohesive work history. Many IT folks are doing this as contingent workers, handling multiple projects under a single brand. It’s not perfect, but it makes your resume look better.

Job hopping isn’t the career move it’s made out to be. If your career feels stuck, make a change strategically. Most careers don’t stall in just 2-3 years.