Tech Companies Should Move To Detroit!

You might have seen this chart recently over at Business Insider:

Screen Shot 2016-06-06 at 11.10.07 AMWe all probably got this. It costs a TON to live in San Fransico! Way too much. You’re crazy if you want to start a tech company in San Fran.  So, what do all those super smart folks do? Yeah, stay west coast and just go a bit more north to Seattle, still expensive, but seemingly cheap in comparison to San Fransico!

It’s one of the main reasons Austin, TX became a hotbed of tech startups and headquarters about a decade ago. Relatively cheap to place to live. Access to a major university (Univ. of Texas), which gives you young, talented, tech savvy folks. Nice weather.

Here’s the magical formula to picking a place to house your tech company:

  1. Access to talent.
  2. Place people want to live.
    1. Good weather.
    2. Hip vibe.
    3. Affordable. (not necessarily an important factor – but increasing in importance!)

Give this magical formula, I’ll give you the number 1 destination of new tech startups!


Well, actually it’s Ann Arbor, which is about a 15-minute drive from Detroit’s International Airport, a Delta hub and one of the nicest airports around. Which means direct flights to almost everywhere. Home to the University of Michigan and great talent pipeline (Michigan State is also 50 minutes away). So, you have two Giant universities and roughly 80,000 students within easy driving distance.  A ton of other smaller universities within a 50-mile radius as well (Eastern Michigan, Wayne State, Oakland Univ., Univ. of Toledo, etc.).

It’s super cheap to live. Ann Arbor is a great college city, with access to the bigger Metro Detroit area within a thirty-minute drive. Access to someone of the world’s largest freshwater lakes. Toronto is an easy, cheap flight, or 4-hour drive away.

Okay, you won’t get super nice weather. You’ll get four seasons, midwestern work ethic and so much more for your money you won’t understand why anyone ever went west to begin with!

Oh, I hear you. What about the talent?  The Detroit Metro Area is one of the world’s largest engineering centers in the world! You know about all the auto companies, but what you don’t know is that Google has been growing an empire in Ann Arbor for years, and doing it quietly because they don’t want others hoarding in on the secret!

So, yeah, Seattle is way cheaper than San Fransico. You only have to pay 35% of pay towards rent. In Detroit, you only have to pay about 15% of your pay towards rent!

Detroit! The new San Fransico! We even have a bridge!

Michael J Fox’s Perspective on Co-Workers #WorkHuman

Michael J. Fox was one of the closing day keynotes at the WorkHuman conference this year, and he killed it like you expect. One of the key takeaways I took from his talk was in regards to all those people you work with on a day to day basis.

Mike Fox laid out two things you should think about when you think about how you interact with your co-workers:

1. Enjoy the people you work with for what they can positively contribute to you and your organization.  This is all about focusing on the strengths of those around you. If you constantly focus on what someone can’t do, you make them miserable and you stress yourself out as well.  People perform better when you allow them to do what they’re good at. When you recognize them for what they bring to the organization, not what they don’t bring.

2. If you can’t enjoy the person you work with, be thankful you’re not them. We are all going to have people in our life that we have to work with that we frankly just don’t like. Could be personality, or skills, or attitude, etc. Mike Fox said you can still find a positive out of this by focusing on the fact you’re grateful that you don’t have their challenges, and by helping those people be the best version of themselves.

I love this philosophy!

Mike Fox was very big on this concept that judging others will get you nowhere. It’s such a big part of culture. I know I do some this myself, and it’s not something I’m ever proud of. The reality is judging others says more about your inadequacies than it does about the persons you are judging. It was a great reminder.

It was a great reminder. In HR and TA we tend to believe ‘judging’ is part of our job description, but it’s not. The best HR and TA Pros I know don’t judge candidates or employees but find what is most useful of those individuals and try and put those people in positions to be successful.

Finally, Mike spoke about fear. Fear others have when they look at him. They look at him expecting to find fear in him and instead see their own fear in his eyes. That statement made me pause. He’s not fearful of his situation. He’s happy life gave him this enormous platform to change lives.

Perspective. We shouldn’t assume we know others based on our own beliefs and fears. Here’s a guy who is facing an uncertain future, but he’s embraced the joy of living one day at a time. The real secret, he didn’t share, is we all are facing life one day at time, he’s just figured it out way before us!


Don’t Apply to College if You’re White, Middle Class and Male

I heard a female comedian the other day say one of the truest things I’ve ever heard:

Look, if you’re a white dude, and you’re failing in America, you’re really a failure! You’re like the definition of failure! You can’t be a white dude and complain about how hard life is. If you’re a white guy and you’re failing at life, you’re basically saying, “I can’t find a way to be successful in a society that was built for me.” That’s America.

Which is probably why Trump is trying to make it white great again!

What this comedian was saying is no one wants to hear white dudes whine about stuff. “Oh, it’s so hard to find a job.” “Oh, I can’t afford a house in the richest part of town.” “Oh, I’m not going to be able to retire until I’m 62.” In comparison to real people problems in the world, it all sounds stupid.

Did you hear the whole Kelly and Michael drama that blew up this past week? All said and done, Kelly comes out and says, “My Dad, who drove a bus for thirty years, thinks we’re all crazy!” Privilege, at any level, isn’t supposed to whine about shit.

So, all that being said, here’s my privilege whine:

College Acceptance and Tuition Payment is completely broken! 

My middle son is about to make his college choice. He’s got some great schools that have accepted him. He has some great ones that did not. His dream school was Duke. He also really liked Northwestern, Dartmouth, and UCLA. He has a 4.05 GPA on a 4.0 scale (honors classes give you additional GPA) and a 31 on his ACT (97th percentile of all kids taking this test).  He had the grades and test scores to get into all of those schools.

What he didn’t have was something else.

What is the something else?

He didn’t come for a poor family. He didn’t come from a rich family. He wasn’t a minority. He doesn’t have some supernatural skill, like shooting a basketball. He isn’t in a wheelchair. He isn’t from another country.

He’s just this normal Midwestern kid from a middle-class family who is a super involved student-athlete, student government officer, award-winning chamber choir member, teaches swimming lessons to children, etc., etc., etc.

Basically, he falls into this no-man’s land of what colleges and universities don’t want these days. Male and White.

Can I keep whining? Whatever, it’s my blog – buckle up! 

What is the other something else, from a financial perspective?

He got into Boston College, another dream school for him, and one that wanted him to come and continue his swim career at the Division 1 level. BC also costs $68,000 per year.

Colleges and U.S. Federal Government hate kids who come from families that do the right thing.  What’s the “right thing”?  He comes from a family that pays their mortgage, saved some money for his tuition and put money away for retirement.

Apparently, all those ‘positive’ things, like being financially responsible, are not liked by colleges and the federal government. Colleges and the U.S. Government would have preferred that I didn’t work, let my house go into foreclosure and was in debt up to my eyeballs. If that was the case, both the college and U.S. Federal Government would reward my bad decision making and pay for my son to go to school, fully!

Because he comes from a family that made good decisions, Boston College, and the Federal Government thought it was a good idea for him to pay $68,000 per year to attend their fine university.

My wife and I have spent our son’s entire lives saving for them for college. We sacraficed to basically give them a fund that would pay two full years of tuition and living at a normal state four-year college. The other two years are on their own. We feel they need to shoulder some of that cost to appreciate what it is they’re investing in.

I get it. No one wants to hear about how the middle-class kid can’t go to the super high-end school of his dreams because he can’t afford it.

I’m struggling with this. I’m no different than any other parent who tells their kid when they were little, work your butt off and one day you can go to Harvard! When I should have said, work your butt off, I’ll make awful financial decisions, and then you’ll be able to go to Harvard.

Here’s what I know, and it’s a hard pill to swallow, if my son did exactly what he did (grades, involvement, etc.) and he was Hispanic (or Black, or American Indian, or from a poor country) and I had no money, he would be getting ready to enroll into Duke. But he’s not.

What did he do wrong? He was born into a white family that worked their ass off to give him every advantage in life.

White privilege is a privilege until it’s not. Until a kid’s dream is broken for something he can’t wrap his brain around. Believe me, I understand this goes both ways. I understand there are black kids who don’t even get an interview for a job because some white kid’s Dad already got them the job ‘behind the scenes’. That isn’t right either! In my mind, I don’t see the difference between these two examples.

Rant over. Colleges are going the route of corporate America. White guys are bad, everyone else is desirable, do whatever it takes, at any cost, to make sure this happens. Well, unless, your old, corporate America doesn’t like older people either, no matter what color or gender you are – but that’s a rant for a different day!

Hit him in the comments and tell me how out of touch I am, then remember this is all about a 17-year-old boy with a dream. A dream he worked his ass off to achieve.

Death of the Millennials

I was at a conference recently and one of the keynotes actually gave a presentation on how to work with millennials. I thought to myself, “how 2009 of this person to do this!” I’ve vowed at this point to never sit through another presentation on millennials in the workplace. Millennials are now dead to me.

Just as Baby Boomers, GenXer’s, GenZs, The Founders, etc., are all dead to me. All of us are people. All of us are in the workplace. All of us have to work together and get along. Focusing so much on one group over another just perpetuates dysfunction and confusion. I actually heard executives talking about kids graduating high school and believing they also are ‘millennials’. Just stop!

That all being said, IBM came out with an infographic about the myths, exaggerations and uncomfortable truths of millennials, last week, which sparked my little rant. I wanted to share these five myths and add some commentary:

1.Millennials’ career goals and expectations are different from those of older generations.

Turns out we all still, for the most part, want the same thing. Good job. Good pay. Stability. Don’t buy into the hype that any of your workers want to jump around from company to company. They don’t.

2.Millennials want constant acclaim and think everyone on the team should get a trophy.

Again, every generation wants feedback and told they’re a rock star, even when they’re not. As we age, we start to gain a little better self-insight that we might suck. When we’re young we think we’re awesome, even when we’re not.

3.Millennials are digital addicts who want to do everything online.

I have 8 aunts who are all in their 60’s, pushing their 70’s, all of whom spend most of their day on digital devices gaming and on social sites. This is the world we live in. My Mom would rather order a pizza online then pick up a phone. Welcome to modern day life.

4.Millennials, unlike their older colleagues, can’t make a decision without first inviting everyone to weigh in.

No one wants to be the one who made a decision that went wrong. In most corporate settings all workers play the CYA game by sharing decision-making responsibility. We all say we want to make decisions until we’re actually given that responsibility, then we turn into bowls of jello on the floor hoping we didn’t ruin our careers!

5.Millennials are more likely than others to jump ship if a job doesn’t fulfill their passions.

Guess what? Young people today have a ton of debt. That means you have to work and make money to pay down that debt. Then you decide to buy a house, get married, have a litter of puppies, etc. Passion is awesome. If you get a job you’re super passionate about, good for you, you’re winning at life. 99% of people will work in a job they like, make decent money, pay their bills, and probably will be passionate about other parts of  their life. I think they’re winning as well.

For the record, the last Millennials entered the workforce two years ago. Can we start talking about these snotty-nosed, spoiled brats who are beginning to enter the workforce right now with their Snapchatting and their video and their ability to brand themselves and never-ending gaze to the glow of their smartphone!? They’re calling themselves “The Founders”.

Go have fun with that. They named themselves…

The Best Recruiters are Competitive, A Hypothesis

I’ve worked in recruiting and HR for about twenty years. At this point in my career, I estimate that I’ve hired about 100 Recruiters.

I’ve hired recruiters that come from almost every environment and education. I’ve gone the Enterprise Rent A Car route and hired college athletes. I’ve gone to colleges and hired HR graduates. I’ve hired seasoned recruiting veterans from both agency and corporate. I’ve hired uneducated individuals from service backgrounds. I’ve hired specific practitioners who have deep knowledge of what they’re recruiting – nurses, IT pros, etc.

None of these things made one bit of difference when it came to performance as a recruiter, in either environment, corporate or agency.

The only thing I’ve found to be a differentiator of true recruiting performance is the level of competitiveness an individual has internally. This is why it’s so popular to hire former athletes as recruiters, we assume since they are athletic, that they must be competitive. But, this also fails, many times.

You see, you don’t have to play sports to be competitive.  You might just be that kid you threw the Monopoly board across the room when you lost to your sister. You might be that person who can’t stand that your neighbor’s lawn looks better than yours. Who knows why and what you’re competitive with, but it’s the key to being great a recruiting.

Many will wrongly assume that males are more competitive than females. In my experience, I’ve found this not to be true. Both sexes can be very competitive, it’s finding which ones are competitive that becomes the difficult thing.

So, why does being competitive help make you a great recruiter?

I believe competitiveness is a great trait for recruiters because it leads them to want to ‘win’.  What’s the win in recruiting? It’s filling the position! Recruiting is just one small game, after another. Each one that is slightly different, with new complexities to complete.  Each time you fill an opening, that is like making a point on your scoreboard.

If you put a group of these people together, even though they’re all working on separate openings, they see each other making placements and they want to do this as well. This competitive drive, alone, makes an individual succeed or fail at recruiting.

This becomes the main issue of why selecting non-proven recruiters is such a crap shoot. It’s very difficult to measure someone’s competitive drive accurately, and interview questioning is unreliable. In my 100 hires, I would say I’m 50/50 in getting it right. When I talk to other agency executives and TA Leaders, many share the same ratio.

Want to hire better recruiters?

Focus completely on finding ultra competitive people, who love keeping score, and throw them into the game.  I like to say Recruiting isn’t hard, but I know that it is.  Recruiting is easy if you’ve got the right people, who will do whatever it takes to win. That’s the competitive difference!

Rerun – The 11 Rules for Hugging at Work

It’s Spring Break in Michigan, so I’m going to step away from the daily grind and throw some Reruns at you! You guys remember Rerun, from What’s Happening? (look it up, kids!) So, enjoy the Reruns, they’re some of my favorites!

Originally ran February 2014 – 

Hello. My name is Tim Sackett, and I’m a hugger.   Being a hugger can make for some awkward moments – what if the other person isn’t expecting a, or doesn’t want to, hug and you’re coming in arms-wide-open!?

Fast Company has an article recently titled: To Hug Or Not To Hug At Work? by Drake Baer, that delved into this subject.  Here’s a piece from the article:

“the uncomfortable feeling you get when you realize that your concept of your relationship with someone else doesn’t match their concept. The intensity of awkwardness roughly corresponds to the magnitude of difference in relationship concepts.”

I consider myself to have a number of roles: Husband, Dad, Coach, Boss, Friend, Coworker, etc.  In each of those roles I’ve hugged and will continue to hug.  Sometimes, though rarely, I’ll find someone who isn’t a hugger.  The first time I ever met Kris Dunn face-to-face, we’ve had known each other and talked frequently by phone for a year, at the HR Tech Conference – he was coming out of a session, I recognized him, he recognized me, and I went full ‘bro-hug’ (sideways handshake, other arm hug-back slap combo) on him, and I’m pretty sure he was caught off guard – but played along.  Kris is a closet hugger.

Kris is a closet hugger.  Jason Seiden, he’s a hugger.  So are Laurie Ruettimann and Dawn Burke.  I find Southern folks are huggers, more than Northern.  Western more than Eastern.  Canadians more than Americans.  Men feel much more comfortable hugging women than other men. Women will hug just about anything – coworkers, babies, puppies, old people, friends, people they don’t even like, etc.

I thought it was about time we had some hugging rules for the office, so here goes:

The Hugging Rules

1. Don’t Hug those you supervise. (The caveats: You can hug a subordinate if: it’s being supportive in a non-creepy way (major family or personal loss – sideways, kind of arm around the shoulder, you care about them hug);  it’s at a wedding and you are congratulating them; it’s a hug for a professional win (promotion, giant sale, big project completion, etc.) and it’s with a group, not alone in your office with the lights off; you would feel comfortable with your spouse standing next you and watching that specific hug.)

2. Hug your external customers or clients when they initiate hugging sequence.  (The caveats: Don’t hug if: it is required to get business – that’s not hugging, that harassment. Don’t let hugs last more than a second or two, or it gets creepy; Don’t mention the hug afterward, that makes you seem creepy!)

3. Don’t Hug the office person you’re having an affair with in the office.  (no explanation needed)

4. Hug peers, not just every day. (It’s alright to hug, but you don’t need to do it every day for people you see every day. Save some up and make it special!)

5. When you Hug, hug for real. (Nothing worse than the ‘fake hug’!  A fake hug is worse than a non-Hug.)

6. Don’t whisper – ‘You smell good’ – when hugging someone professionally. (That’s creepy – in fact don’t whisper anything while hugging!)

7. Don’t close your eyes while hugging professionally.  (That’s weird and a bit stalkerish)

8.  It is alright to announce a Hug is coming. (Some people will appreciate a – ‘Hey! Come here I’m giving you a hug – it’s been a long time!’)

9. It’s never alright to Hug from behind.  (Creepier!)

10.  Never Hug in the restroom. (Make for awkward moment when other employees walk in and see that.)

11.  If you’re questioning yourself whether it will be alright to Hug someone professionally – that is your cue that it probably isn’t.

 Do you have any hugging rules for the office?

I’m a Hero!

I worked on my day off…

I worked after hours…

I worked on the weekend…

I worked on a holiday…

I worked when no one else was working…

I worked without getting paid…

I worked when I said I wouldn’t…

I worked more than you…

And because of this, I’m a hero, and you’re not.

But you already knew this because you saw me working when I posted it on Instagram…

I’m a Hero!

Would You Fire Your Top Performer for Punching Another Employee?

The world of the NBA brings us the real live HR Game Show – What Would You Do?

I know most of you could care less about professional basketball, and I promise, this post isn’t about basketball. In case you didn’t hear last week, Los Angles Clippers Allstar, Blake Griffin, punched an equipment manager of the team, Matias Testi, after a game, while out at dinner.  In the face, more than once, and he broke his hand doing it. So, now he can’t play for the next six weeks.

Most people just chalk this up to stupid, overpaid, professional athlete does wrong. Not even page 1 news. Almost happens on a weekly basis.

For those HR Pros in the audience, you know, the Clippers have a major problem now!  One employee just did bodily harm to another employee. Not only that, your BEST employee just did bodily harm to an employee that can be replaced by a million people in a second.  Your best employee can’t be replaced, and if your competition gets him, it hurts your company. That’s pretty close to the truth.

So, tell me Mr. and Mrs. HR Pro – What Would You Do?

Let’s break down some options:

1. Fire both parties. It takes to get your butt beat. Both were engaged in a verbal spat that one party took further.

2. Fire Blake. He’s twice the size of the guy he hit, and he’s at a much higher level within the company, thus his responsibility is much higher on how he acts.

3. Don’t fire either. Which is probably what’s going to happen – but would never happen in the ‘real’ world. The two parties involved are friends. Something happened that shouldn’t. The lower employee has the job of his life, constantly surrounded by millionaire athletes, he doesn’t want anyone fired. He probably wants to apologize that his head wasn’t softer so he didn’t break Blake’s hand.

4. Fire Matias. He’s replaceable. You could easily cut a severance agreement for a small price and all this goes away. Being in the position he was, he should have known not to push Blake’s buttons and the value Blake has to the franchise.

5. Suspensions all around. Suspend Blake and Matias for their involvement in the industry. The problem with this is the Clips are trying to make the playoffs, probably will, and they’ll need Blake, which is about the same time he would be coming off this injury. Are you really going to suspend your best employee for the playoffs? Heck no. I don’t care about Matias, you can suspend him, no one will notice.

A real HR pro in this situation only has one option. Fire Blake.  He’s demonstrated that he’s willing to physically harm an employee of the company, put the organization in harm’s way by missing games, and even self-implode by not controlling himself in a scenario a normal person would.

This is where reality kicks real life HR Pros in the teeth.

The real call here is to get rid of Matias.  This decision on all fronts leaves the most positive outcomes for all involved.  The Clips get rid of a low-level employee for very little money. If he’s truly a friend of Blakes, he won’t cause problems, he knows where the real money is in this relationship. You can’t leave the possibility, even the remotest, of this, happening again. With Matias on the team, this could always happen again.

Real HR Pros gasp at this scenario because we all know where this would lead in real life. The courtroom. That’s where you miss one really smart play here, that you also can use, the severance agreement. Get them to sign the paper, hand them a check, move forward. The Clips would be smart to move forward, not without their best player, but without an equipment manager, they could easily replace.

Do I do anything with Blake? Yeah, something has to happen. I probably give him the biggest fine I can under the collect bargaining agreement, and maybe even go higher, just to prove a point, knowing it will get knocked down.

Agree or disagree? Hit me in the comments!

Sometimes, You Quit a Job for Love

Every once in a while you an employee who decides to move out of state, or another city, or a country, to be with the love of their life. There’s very little you can do as an HR pro or leader to keep this person. You can’t beat love. This is a story about that, but way more.

When I was in middle school my Dad did something for me that I will never be able to truly thank him for. His company, Spartan Stores, started sponsoring the Michigan Special Olympics. My Dad was asked if he would volunteer to help cook food for all the participants. He brought me along, even though I really didn’t want to go.

It was one of the best things that ever happened to me. I got to see true joy. True empathy. I got to see something that changed my life. I continued to volunteer all the way through college, then got involved heavily in coaching youth athletics, and I haven’t been back. But, I will. I only say this because I have such a special place in my heart for people living with Downs and other genetic abnormalities. They have so much to show us and offer us.

To feel love this strongly over just one thing in your life, you would be lucky. To feel this love over more than one thing in life is a godsend. Take a view, it’s only 2 minutes:

New Mexico is definitely losing, but Denver is definitely gaining!

I think it’s important to point out, there are two kinds of love here. Job love, which is very strong here. Real love, which is even stronger! When you’re employees leave you for the love of another, it can be heart wrenching on them. Do them a favor, and don’t make it harder.

Just be happy for them. Support them in every way you can. You’ll find another employee. They may never find another love of their life.

It’s Tim Sackett Day! Celebrating Michael Kelemen aka the Recruiting Animal @Animal

January 23, 2012 my friends made that day forever be known as Tim Sackett Day!  By January 23, 2013, those same friends thought I couldn’t take another day of celebration and honor, and decided to honor another individual but still call it Tim Sackett Day! Last year on Tim Sackett Day we honored the great Victorio Milian! So, welcome to the 5th Annual Tim Sackett Day celebration!

This year we are celebrating our first Canadian on Tim Sackett Day, the Recruiting Animal, Michael Kelemen.

I have to say when the Tim Sackett Day committee first brought up Animal’s name, I wasn’t very happy.  I think Animal is basically an asshole.  That’s when the committee reminded me that I’m basically an asshole, and it’s why I was honored to begin with.  They had a very good point.

For those who don’t know Animal, he’s original to say the least.  He took recruiting and a morning zoo radio show schtick and pushed the recruiting conversation into areas no one else would ever take it.  Not me. Not Punk Rock, Laurie Ruettimann. Not anyone in our space. He says what we all think, but are afraid to say.

So, why do I think he’s an asshole?

Animal invited me on his radio show and warned me, he doesn’t pull any punches.  He was going to come at me and challenge me about how I thought about recruiting, and wanted me to back up how I thought with very specific examples.  It ended up being Animal yelling at me for thirty minutes. Here’s the show – take a listen for yourself.

In hindsight, I wasn’t ready for the Animal show.  Animal wants controversy and conflict. It makes good radio. I didn’t bring that. I also didn’t bring a set of boobs which would have helped since Animal yells way less at the ladies on his show! He’ll disagree with that last statement, which is Animal he mostly disagrees with all statements. Laurie Ruettimann claims he’s a Teddy Bear, but she has boobs, so I discount her opinion on Animal.

Why do I think Animal is the perfect person to honor on Tim Sackett Day?

Animal loves the recruiting industry. Agree with him, disagree with him, he has an extreme passion for our profession. You have to respect that! He’s been doing this since 2004!  I didn’t even start writing for Fistful of Talent until 2008!  He basically paved the way for all of us that write and speak about recruiting in the social space.

Animal calls a spade a spade.  What he really wants is for our industry to share the great stuff, and call out the bullshit. He’s like a bullshit cop. When all these people were out three or four years ago talking about how great talent communities were, he was the first to call them out and ask them to prove it. You know what you don’t hear about anymore? Talent communities.

I think my friend John Nykolaiszyn said it best the very first time I met him (to his defense it was after a few glasses of wine):

“Tim Sackett!? Fuck you! Fuck You! Fuck You!…I love you!”

John hated that my writing challenged things he truly believed in, but also loved the fact that I made him think about things in a different way. 

That, in a nutshell, is Animal. He challenges everyone to think about what we are truly doing and saying.

Please join me in celebrating the Recruiting Animal, Michael Kelemen today! Catch him on Twitter @Animal (getting “Animal” as your twitter name also shows how far in front of the game he is!), also his website and radio show: Recruiting Animal