How many fans do you have?

You’ve probably heard of the idea of 1,000 True Fans. Seth Godin gets a lot of credit for the idea, but he’s quick to point out he got it from Kevin Kelly over a decade ago.

True Fans are those people who really believe in you and your work. They make it a point to consume your content. If you’re close to them they’ll make a point of coming to see you. Most people don’t have any fans. Think about your normal employee working their average job. They do good, solid work, but no one is going out of their way to hear what they have to say.

Kelly’s idea about 1,000 True Fans is this:

“A true fan is defined as a fan that will buy anything you produce. These diehard fans will drive 200 miles to see you sing; they will buy the hardback and paperback and audible versions of your book; they will purchase your next figurine sight unseen; they will pay for the “best-of” DVD version of your free youtube channel; they will come to your chef’s table once a month. If you have roughly a thousand of true fans like this (also known as super fans), you can make a living — if you are content to make a living but not a fortune.

Here’s how the math works. You need to meet two criteria. First, you have to create enough each year that you can earn, on average, $100 profit from each true fan. That is easier to do in some arts and businesses than others, but it is a good creative challenge in every area because it is always easier and better to give your existing customers more, than it is to find new fans.

Second, you must have a direct relationship with your fans. That is, they must pay you directly. You get to keep all of their support, unlike the small percent of their fees you might get from a music label, publisher, studio, retailer, or other intermediate. If you keep the full $100 of each true fan, then you need only 1,000 of them to earn $100,000 per year. That’s a living for most folks.”

That’s a very good living for 99.9% of the world’s population. I could live comfortably in the U.S. on $100,000. Maybe not NYC, or San Francisco, but most places $100K gives me a wonderful life.

I wrote a book, The Talent Fix. I’ve written every day on this blog for over eight years. I’ve been blogging in the HR and Talent space for a decade. I know I have some True Fans. I don’t think I have 1,000, although I’ve sold way over 1,000 books. I think I would be comfortable saying I’ve got 100 True Fans.

Some might read that and think, well that’s not very much, but I would disagree! Think about your own life. Who are your “True Fans”. If you said tomorrow you’ll be on stage in your hometown talking about whatever and it costs $25 to see you, how many people are showing up? Now take that number and take away your parents, your spouse, your kids, etc. Now, how many are showing up?

100 is a good number. I’m working to get to 200, then 300, and maybe one day I’ll have 1,000 True Fans of my work. That would be very awesome!

My best True Fan story is that my wife jokingly calls me a “Micro-celebrity” saying there’s really only a couple dozen HR and Talent Pros in the world who know who you are. One day we were going on a trip and we were walking through Detroit Metro Airport. The new terminal is giant, a mile long.

So, we are standing in the middle of the terminal as people are rushing by to catch flights. We are discussing where we should grab a bite to eat before we get on a long flight and a guy walks by me. He stops and turns and says, “Hey, you’re Tim Sackett!” I said, I am, and started up the conversation around how he would know me, etc.

Turns out, he’s a ‘fan’ (his words, not mine), he reads my blog every day. Just happen to be making a connection in Detroit, he was a Talent Pro from the east coast. What a small world! As he walked away I could feel my wife staring at me, knowing she wouldn’t be able to fit my head into the plane! I mean, when your wife calls you a micro-celebrity and then you get noticed in an airport, well…

That how it all starts, one true fan who will notice you in an airport and show your wife you’re completely a micro-celebrity!

So, what does this have to do with anything? 

You don’t need to boil the ocean. You don’t need to recruit every candidate. You don’t need to have everyone see your employment brand. You need to start with one, then two, then three. That’s doable, you can do that, I can do that! Trying to do that with everyone, that seems impossible!

Here’s how to fall in love with your job!

Do you know what it felt like the last time you fell in love?

I mean real love?

The kind of love where you talk 42 times per day, in between text and Facebook messages, and feel physical pain from being apart? Ok, maybe for some it’s been a while and you didn’t have the texts or Facebook!  But, you remember those times when you really didn’t think about anything else or even imagine not seeing the other person the next day, hell, the next hour. Falling “in” love is one of the best parts of love, it doesn’t last that long and you never get it back.

I hear people all the time say “I love my job” and I never use to pay much attention, in fact, I’ve said it myself.  The reality is, I don’t love my job. I mean I like it a whole lot, but I love my wife, I love my kids, I love Diet Mt. Dew at 7 am on a Monday morning. The important things in life!  But my job?  I’m not sure about that one.  As an HR Pro, I’m supposed to work to get my employees to “love” their jobs.  Love.

Let me go all Dr. Phil on you for a second. Do you know why most relationships fail? No, it’s not cheating. No, it’s not the drugs and/or alcohol. No, it’s not money. No, it’s not that he stops caring. No, it’s not your parents. Ok, stop it. I’ll just tell you!

Relationships fail because expectations aren’t met.  Which seems logical knowing what we know about how people fall in love, and lose their minds.  Once that calms down – the real work begins.  So, if you expect love to be the love of the first 4-6 months of a relationship you’re going to be disappointed a whole bunch over and over.

Jobs aren’t much different.

You get a new job and it’s usually really good!  People listen to your opinion. You seem smarter. Hell, you seem better looking (primarily because people are sick of looking at their older co-workers). Everything seems better in a new job.  Then you have your 1 year anniversary and you come to find out you’re just like the other idiots you’re working with.

This is when falling in love with your job really begins. When you know about all the stuff the company hid in the closet. The past employees they think are better and smarter than you, the good old days when they made more money, etc.  Now, is when you have to put some work into making it work.

I see people all the time moving around to different employers and never seeming to be satisfied.  They’re searching. Not for a better job, or a better company. They’re searching for that feeling that will last.  But it never will, not without them working for it.

The best love has to be worked for. Passion is easy and fleeting. Love is hard to sustain and has to be worked, but can last forever.

That 20 Minute Phone Screen is a Candidate’s Most Important Moment of the Week!

A lot of folks are currently out of job and looking for work. Not many jobs open. Too many candidates lead to a lot of rejections, black holes, no feedback, and very few “interviews”.

You and I (TA Leaders and Pros) don’t consider a twenty-minute phone screen to be an interview. Candidates definitely believe it’s an interview. They prepare for your phone screen at the same level they prepare for an in-person interview with the hiring manager. First impressions and all.

Here’s the problem, that twenty-minute phone screen, one of many you will have during the week, isn’t even in your top 25 most important things you’ll be doing this week. So, how do we address this variance in importance with how the candidate will ultimately view your employment brand, you, your hiring manager, and the job?

That’s a tricky question.

I think the first thing we need to do in talent acquisition is simply to recognize this reality. We are going to be talking with scheduled candidates about who we are, who they are, and what we have, and this is extremely important to them, especially for those out of job. To have some empathy and understanding of the situation. To provide something of value, even as we look to gain some value of information ourselves.

It’s a powerful thing to know you’ll be talking with a number of people in a week, all of whom this could be their most important conversation of the week, month, year. That we (all recruiters) have a major impact on this event in their lives. We can create an amazing experience, or we can do something less than amazing.

I have this naive belief that all of us humans actually want to do things that make other people happy and satisfied. Isn’t that a great little fuzzy, cute world I live in!?! If we knew we had the power to make someone’s life just a little better, we would use that power for good. That if given the choice to make someone’s day brighter, we would always make the right choice.

Well, we do.

Do Good. Be Kind. As Chris Kurtz would say.

This week, as you go out into the world and phone screen your brands out. Try and make someone’s week. You are worth it. They are worth it.

Pressure is a Privilege

“Pressure is a Privilege” – Billy Jean King

I’ve been watching the US Open this week and women’s finalist, Naomi Osaka was interviewed and said as she walks out onto the US Open court she pulls inspiration from the quote and sign that hangs just outside the court where the players enter.

In today’s world, we are all feeling a lot of pressure.

Parents struggling to work, teach, care for themselves. People fearful of the virus. People fearful of social and political unrest. People fearful of how they’ll pay their bills. It seems like every day the pressure just keeps increasing around us.

You are feeling pressure because something is expected of you. That expectation might be put on you by the outside world, or by yourself, but either way, here we are. You have expectations and that is a privilege. It causes us to be uncomfortable and being uncomfortable causes us to change and adapt.

Here is how King explains her own quote:

“I have this saying: Pressure is a privilege. Usually, if you have tremendous pressure, it’s because an opportunity comes along. I remember thinking about this, actually, when I was at Centre Court at Wimbledon. And I said, “All right. You’ve been dreaming about this moment. Is it a lot of pressure? Yeah. But guess what? It’s a privilege to be standing here.” Most of the time, in work or play or anything, if you really think about it, usually it’s a privilege. That I-want-the-ball feeling. Not “please double-fault.” Give me the ball. Give me the problem to solve. Let’s figure this out. Let’s go.” 

Let’s Go!

6 Things That Make Great HR Pros Great!

The one great thing I love about going to HR and Talent conferences is that you always get reminded about what really good HR should look like.  It doesn’t mean that your shop will be there, but it gives you something to shoot for.  I’ll admit, sometimes it can be frustrating listening to some HR Pro from a great brand tell you how they ‘built’ their great employment brand through all their hard work and brilliant ideas.  All the while, not mentioning anything about “oh, yeah, and we already had this great brand that marketing spends $100 million a year to keep us great!”

Regardless, seeing great HR always reminds me that great HR is obtainable for everyone. Great HR has nothing to do with size or resources. It has a lot to do with an HR team, even a team of one, deciding little by little we’re going to make this great!

I think there are six things you need to know to make your HR department great:

1. Know how to ‘sell’ your HR vision to the organization and your executives.  The best HR Pros I know are great storytellers and in turn great at selling their visions.  If you don’t have a clear vision of what you want your HR shop to look like, how do you expect others to get on board and help you get there?  Sit down, away from work, and write out exactly what you want your HR shop to look like.  Write it long-hand. Write in bullet points. Just start.  It will come.

2. Buy two pairs of shoes: one of your employees and one of your hiring managers. Try them on constantly.  These are your customers, your clients.  You need to feel their joys and pains, and truly live them.  Knowing their struggles will make you design better HR programs to support them.  Support them, not you.

3. Working hard is number 1.  Working smart is number 1A.  Technology can do every single transaction in HR.  Don’t allow tasks and administrative things to be why you can’t do great HR.  Get technology to do all of this busy work so you can focus on real HR deliverables.

4. Break something in your organization that everyone hates and replace it with something everyone loves.  This is usually a process of something you’ve always done, and people are telling you it still has to be done that way. Until it doesn’t, and you break it.  By the way, this doesn’t have to be something in HR.  Our leaders and our employees have so many things that frustrate them in our environments.  Just find one and get rid of it.

5. Sometimes the path of least resistance is the best solution. HR people love to fight battles for the simple act of fighting the battle. “NO! It has to be done this way!” “We will NOT allow any workarounds!”   Great HR finds the path of least resistance.  The path of greatest adoption.  The path which makes our people feel the most comfortable, even if it isn’t the path we really, really want to take.

6. Stop being an asshole. You’re in HR, you’re not a Nazi.  Just be nice.  We’re supposed to be the one group in our organization that understands.  Understands people are going to have bad days and probably say things they don’t mean.  Understands that we all will have pressures, some greater than others, but all pressure nonetheless. Understands that work is about 25% of our life, and many times that other 75% creates complete havoc in our world!

Great HR has nothing to do with HR.  Great HR has a lot to do with being a great leader, even when that might not be your position in the organization.

What Is Your 3 Minute Interview Monologue? This is mine!

Right now, with high unemployment and seemingly endless competition for jobs, nailing your interview is critical! Almost every failed interview can be traced back to the first three minutes. Experts will tell you the first ten seconds, but these are the same experts who have never interviewed or haven’t interviewed in the past twenty years. The reality is a little longer, but not much.

An interview doesn’t really start until you’re asked to open your mouth. And, not the small talk crap that you do while people get settled and wait for Jenny to get her coffee and find your resume.

When you get asked that first question, “So, tell us a little about yourself.” Bam! It’s on. Start the clock, you have 180 seconds to show them why they should hire you.

Here’s what I would say:

“I was raised by 6 women. My grandmother is the matriarch of our family. I was raised by a single mom, who had four sisters, my aunts, and my sister was the first grandchild born into the family. As you can imagine, I was dressed-up a lot! The women in my life love to laugh and I have always had a stage with them to make this happen. 

The other thing it taught me was to cook, sew, and iron. All of which I do to this day. My wife is a baker, but I’m the cook. Mending and ironing fall in my chore bucket around the house.

The real thing it taught me was the value of women in the world. I did my master’s thesis on women and leadership. My mother started her own company in 1979 when no women started companies. Not only that, but she also started a company in a male-dominated technical field.  I was nine years old, and she would pay me ten cents to stuff envelopes for her. We would sit on her bed and she made calls to candidates, and I would stuff envelopes with the volume off on the TV.

Living with a single mom, who started a business during a recession was a challenge. I learned the value of work and started my first real job the day I turned sixteen. I paid my own way through college, my parents who could afford to help, but believed I would get more out of college if I found a way to pay for it on my own. I did. In hindsight, I’m glad they taught me this lesson. It was hard but worth it.

All of these experiences have helped shape my leadership style. I set high expectations but work hard to ensure people have the right tools and knowledge to be successful. I hold people accountable for what we agree are our goals. I believe hard work leads to success, and in business when you are successful you have way more fun! 

What else would you like to know about me?”

That’s it. I shut up and wait for a response.

What did I tell them in my three minutes?

I told them my story.  People don’t hire your resume, they hire your story.

If you want to get hired, you need to craft your story. A real story. A story people want to listen to. A story people will remember when it comes time to decide whom to hire.

Once you craft that story, sit down with as many people as possible, and tell them that story. You need to perfect it. You need to be able to “perform” that story in the interview so that it’s 100% natural. Pro tip: try and get people that don’t like you very much to listen to your story and give you feedback. They’ll still be nice, but you’ll get more honest feedback from them, then your fans.

You have 3 minutes! How are you going to use that time?

Recruiting Brainfood Tribune: 20 Questions with @TimSackett by @HungLee

One of the great things that blogging about recruiting and HR topics over the past decade has given me is a bunch of international friends and contacts. One of those friends is the founder of Recruiting Brainfood, out of the UK, Hung Lee.

You won’t find a nicer dude, doing great work for the recruiting space around the world. If you haven’t heard of the Player’s Tribune, it’s a sports website where instead of journalist writing, it’s the athletes themselves. You hear very personal stories from the athletes in their own voice.

Hung had the idea to do this for our industry (The Recruiting Brainfood Tribune) and he asked me to do this for his site through answer a series of twenty questions. I hope you like it, and make sure you subscribe to Hung Lee’s weekly Recruiting Brainfood newsletter – it’s exceptional!

  1. Who was your favourite teacher at school? What did you learn from that person?

Ruth Kemp, high school English teacher. She forced us to journal, and this was in the 1980s! So, each day we had to just write for 20 minutes a day. Write about anything, but you had to write even if you just copied text from a book or magazine. The cool part is she would read everything you wrote and respond with comments. So, even though I didn’t want to write, I loved her reactions to what I wrote! For me, it became a game to try and make her laugh or be shocked. She was smart and playful and always played along with my creativity. She taught me that I actually loved to write, I just didn’t know it. I ended up being her teacher’s aide for my junior and senior years. We would talk for hours about anything and everything.

She retired years ago, but when I wrote my book, The Talent Fix, I wanted to send her a copy because she was really the reason that it happened. I found out, through the school, that she was doing some volunteer work at the local airport assistance desk with some other senior citizens. I fly a lot, so I thought eventually I would run into her. One night on a last flight of the night coming into the airport at almost midnight, I finally ran into her on her very last day of volunteering ever. It had been 30 years since we had seen each other (she totally looked the same!). I walked up to the counter, and she asked me if she could help me. I said, “I’m Tim Sackett!” and she replied, “Of course you are!” We hugged and shared stories, and it brings tears to my eyes as I write this that I could see her one last time and let her know what a dramatic impact she had on my life.

  1. At what age did you become an adult? What happened, and how did you know?

I don’t think my wife thinks I’m an adult yet! I tell people I was raised by all women. My Grandmother was the matriarch of our family. She had five daughters, my mother being the oldest. The first grandchild in our family was my sister. I was the second. My parents divorced when I was four, and my grandparents help raise me a lot, being that my Mom was a single parent working a ton launching her business that I currently run. My grandfather passed away when I was twelve. At his funeral, I was sitting between my Mom and my Grandmother. My Grandmother leans over during the service, puts her hand on my knee, and whispers into my ear, “You are the man of the family now.” I’m quite sure I wasn’t an adult at that moment, but it definitely shaped so much of my life moving forward! To this day, I still hold the title as the senior-most “blood” male of our family, and my 90-year-old Grandmother still expects me to be the man of the family.

  1. What do you think is true that most people think is false? What do you think is false, that most people think is true?

I think if you fail a lot, you are more likely to keep failing. Our society tends to believe the opposite. Fail more! Fail faster! It’s all bullshit. I coached baseball, and if I had a…

Read the rest of the twenty questions over at Recruiting Brainfood – it’s all about me and stuff, but I think it’s pretty good. Hung asked some great questions! 

 

7 Things Start Ups Teach Us That Will Increase Our Success!

My buddy John Hill works for Techstars as the VP of Network, go connect with him, he’s completely an awesome guy who will sit down and have a beer with you and talk about how to change the world for hours!  Last week he got to meet the latest crop of Techstar startups and came away motivated with some great learnings.

Here are John’s takeaways from the newest Techstar startups:

1. Nothing beats hustle. Nothing.

2. The world is full of good ideas, but only a few will execute them.

3. Relational capital is vital.

4. Networks matter. Surround yourself with those who can help you.

5. There are some wicked smart people in the world.

6. To build a great company you need help with funding, talent, and connections to business/industry to scale and the understanding of how to navigate each.

7. Suspend disbelief!

I’m drawn to each of the seven for different reasons but #2 jumps out because I witness this on a daily basis. There are two kinds of people in the world: those who execute and those who talk about executing. Hire those who execute. Understand that they are rare and you should overpay for this ‘skill’.

Do you notice nowhere on his list does he talk about failure. John is a motherfucking doer! He gets shit done. Techstars will only take a chance on startups led by people who will execute. John talks about ways to succeed not about just throwing caution to the wind and failing. The reality is most will fail, setting yourself up for success is key.

I love that he ends his list with “Suspend disbelief”. The world is a critic. Those who make it big have that special combination of John’s list. Great idea, ability to execute, the right network to make it happen, super smart, etc. What they also have is true belief! At the end of the day, you have to believe 1000% of your idea is going to work. No part of you even questions that it won’t.

If it didn’t work you would be destroyed because your belief was so strong that you never saw it coming when it fails. That’s how most great ideas actually make it. You find a combination of all of these things and you put money and resources behind it.

These 7 learnings aren’t about how to make a startup successful. These are how you make anything successful that you’re working on.

What can we really hope for out of a work experience?

I heard this quote recently, it was used by an old football coach to his players:

“It’s hard, but it’s fair.”

He wasn’t the first to use this and probably won’t be the last – but the line stuck with me because of how I don’t think many people in today’s age really think this way.  Many want to talk about what’s fair, few want to discuss the ‘hard’ part.  The football coach’s son described the meaning of what he feels the phrase means:

“It’s about sacrifice,” Toler Jr. said of the quote. “It means that if you work hard that when it’s all said and done at the end of the day, it will be fair based on your body of work. It’s about putting in the time, making sure that you’re ready for the opportunity.”

I think we all think our parents are hard on us growing up.  I recall stories I tell to my own sons of my Dad waking me up on a Saturday morning at 7 am, after I was out too late the night before, and ‘making’ me help him with something, like chopping wood or cleaning the garage out.  He didn’t really need my help, he was trying to teach me a lesson about choices.  If I chose to stay out late at night, it was going to suck getting up early to go to school.

He shared with me stories of his father doing the same thing, one night my Dad had gotten home late, so late, he didn’t even go to bed, just started a pot of coffee and waited for my grandfather to get up, figuring that was easier than getting a couple of hours of sleep and then hearing it from my grandfather the rest of the day.

As an HR Pro, we see this every day in our workforce.  There are some who work their tails off, not outwardly expecting anything additional, they’re just hard workers.  Others will put in the minimum, then expect a cookie. It’s a tough life lesson for those folks.  Most usually end up leaving your organization, believing they were treated unfairly, so they’ll go bounce around a few more times.

Eventually, they’ll learn to put in the work, put in the time, and more times than not, things work out pretty well.  Sometimes it won’t, so you go back to work even harder.  It’s been very rare in my 20 year HR career that I’ve truly seen a really hard worker get screwed over. Very rare! Now I know a ton of people who think they work hard, but they don’t, and they’ll say they get screwed. But the reality is they don’t work hard, they do the same as everyone else.

Do some idiots who don’t deserve a promotion or raise sometimes get it? Yep, they sure do, but that doesn’t happen as much as you think. The hard workers tend to get the better end of the deal almost always.

I hope I can teach my sons this lesson:  Life is going to be hard, but if you keep at it and put in the work, it’s going to be fair.  I think that is all we can really hope for.

COVID Career Pivots – The One Thing You Need to Know!

On a daily basis, I get messages from folks who are ready to make a pivot in their career, and with so many folks losing their job because of COVID the amount looking to pivot seems to be increasing. Career pivots aren’t a new thing. On average people change jobs like 358 times during their career or something like that.

Here’s how that conversation normally goes when I have a conversation with a friend who’s deciding on a pivot:

Friend of the Project: Tim! So, I lost my job (or I hate my job) and I’ve always wanted to be a Professional Puppy Petter!

Me: OMG! Me Too! I love puppies! So awesome!

FOP: Okay, so I’m currently making low six figures, like $127,350. And while I know I won’t make that same amount in my pivot profession, I still need to make $127,300. What advice do you have for me to become a Professional Puppy Petter?

Me: Don’t.

FOP: Haha! No seriously, petty puppies are my passion! I’ll do whatever it takes!

Me: You have to be prepared to take a pay cut of at least 99% (in reality, for most career pivots, it’s probably 30-40%).

The reality is, most of the actual examples are people asking me how to get into HR. They are usually coming from a sales job or management job where they are making $65-85K. Some even have an HR degree, but little or no experience.

That’s awesome. I love HR! But, you have to be ready and prepared for an offer around $40-45K for your first HR job, depending on the market. That means you need to adjust your lifestyle to make that career pivot. I find about 1 out of 25 people are willing to make that adjustment.

When I first jumped from agency recruiting to HR I took a 65% cut in pay to move into straight corporate HR. I actually lied about how much I was making because it was probably double what my new corporate boss was making. They never would have hired me knowing they were making me an offer so low from I was currently at. But, I truly wanted to make that pivot!

Career pivots take major sacrifice, but often they are worth it if you find a career doing something you truly care about. It’s easier to pivot at the beginning or end of your career. You have less to lose. When you are mid-career with a house payment and kids and a dog, career pivots are almost impossible, without major adjustments to lifestyle.

The one thing you need to know…

Career pivots have less to do with your ability to do the new job and everything to do with your willingness to take a major step back in life comforts.

Good luck out there my friends!