There’s a Blurred Line Between the Best of Both Worlds

mileyMiley Cyrus has been the topic of all the chatter since her performance Sunday night on the VMA’s (Video Music Awards). Most people came to know her as Hannah Montana, a squeaky clean young girl who tries to find a balance between being a “normal” person by day and a music icon by night. Her real life dad, Billy Ray Cyrus, also played her dad on the show. But her actions this weekend might have just broken his achey breaky heart.

Hannah Montana was HUGE! Every little girl wanted to be her. They all watched her show, attended her concerts, and bought every piece of merchandise available. She was the Queen of the Tweens! But soon she started to outgrow the persona that had been built….and had the desire to be taken more seriously as an artist. The show ended and thus began her process of change.

The list of child stars who have made grown up and struggled to maintain any sort of normalcy is very long…Britney Spears, Lindsey Lohan, Michael Jackson, and so on. I can understand how it might be difficult to make that transition. Adoration is a very powerful thing! And when it is perceived to have waned, some are desperate to get it back, no matter what it takes.

This is where the blurred line comes into play. How do you maintain relevance, and still be “normal” in an industry that doesn’t necessarily allow it? Image is king! Outrageous behavior is not only glorified, but required.

Miley is once again stuck trying to have the best of both worlds…and obviously she is willing to do anything to remain relevant. While some may say that she achieved what she set out to do…she did get everyone’s attention again and we are all still talking about her, but if her goal was to be taken seriously as an artist – she failed with her exhibition on Sunday night. She is now a punch line to a joke.

The message here…be true to who you are. Stay consistent. Don’t change in order to gain adoration….let people adore you for you!

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Cancer Saved My Life

_DSC0046Two years ago this week, I was laying in my hospital bed after undergoing surgery. I had gone in to remove a single, small mass on my small intestine. This was supposed to be an easy laparoscopic surgery with a quick recovery. However, when I woke up in the recovery room, I could tell it had been a much bigger surgery than anticipated. As my eyes were just starting to open, I could tell that a nurse was standing next to me and I asked her, “That wasn’t laparoscopic, was it?” She answered with a soft, “No, Mr. Douglas. It wasn’t.” I replied back with, “How big is my incision?” She said, “It’s about a foot long.” Under heavy sedation, I fell back asleep.

A short while later I arrived in my room with my family and a few friends waiting for me. As they set my bed in place, my wife was on my left. I rolled my head over and looked at her. She looked back and told me, “They removed 15 tumors from you today and they are pretty sure it is cancer.” The next several minutes are a blur to me. I believe I just laid their silently for several minutes and pondered what I was about to go through. I know for certain though, there was no big reaction. No crying. I think it could best be described as a quiet determination and surprisingly, peace.

For you to understand how cancer might have saved my life though, we have to look at what my life was prior to that surgery.

I worked…a lot. I didn’t take care of myself. I ate crap. I didn’t exercise. I had blown up to just above 300 pounds. I would eat Tums all day long – sometimes 4-5 at a time just to try to relieve some of the heartburn and stress that was going on inside. I couldn’t stand or walk for long before I was winded or my back and knees would be killing me. At the rate that I was going, a heart attack was a certainty at some point. My priorities at that time were wealth, success, recognition, advancing in my career, and I gave whatever left over time to my family.  I was dying a slow but certain death. But then came cancer.

On August 24, 2011, my surgeon walked into my room and told me that my pathology reports had come back and that I did have cancer. He removed 15 cancerous tumors all from my small intestine in my previous surgery. Then he tells me, he missed one other and that I needed to have the same surgery again. I went home for a few days, had some other tests run, and then went back to the hospital to have my second surgery. It didn’t go well. After removing another section of my small intestine, and trying to put the two open ends back together, it didn’t seal. Only no one knew that for several days. I could tell that something was wrong as soon as I woke up. I had 104 fever for several days. The bed would shake non-stop because I was so cold. I didn’t want visitors. I didn’t want the lights on. I didn’t want anyone to talk to me or touch me. I just wanted to lay there and be left alone in the dark.

I don’t know if you have ever found yourself in a situation where you are living in a dark and painful place, but it shows you quickly who you are and what you are made of. I hurt so bad. I was dealing with this new diagnosis. It was just a dark, dark time for me. I was still fighting and confident that I was going to overcome this, but it was going to have to be my way and not with people telling me every little thing that I should be doing or thinking or acting. This was my battle to fight in the way that I needed to fight it.

Unbelievably, I was able to go home about a week after my second surgery. I hadn’t had anything to eat or drink – only what the IVs had been pumping into me. When I got home, I still knew that something wasn’t right. I still had fever. I still hurt badly. I was so very weak. My wife took me back to the surgeon’s office and I told him what was going on. He had a small examination table in his office that I laid on. He opened up my incision as I was lying there…no pain killers, just opened me up. I could see my insides. He placed a lot of bandages inside the wound and then had me hold myself together. He then sent me to the hospital next door for a CT Scan. Moments after the scan ended, he was with me and told me that I would be having an urgent surgery right then. He informed me that I was septic because the small intestine never sealed and that my body had been leaking toxic fluids into my system for 9 days. I had to have surgery or I would die.

After having a friend rush my daughter to the hospital, kissing her and telling her that I love her, I was rolled into my 3rd surgery in 6 weeks. The leak was fixed and I felt better instantly, but it would still be a long road back to gaining my strength and appetite again.

I lost 80 pounds during this process….50 of that in 1 month. For months I couldn’t walk from my bedroom to my living room. I went from XXXL clothes to XL. I had to buy all new clothes as everything just fell off of me. _DSC0488

Relay for Life is a fundraiser for the American Cancer Society and they were having their event a few blocks from my house. It had been 3-4 months now and I was able to get up and around some now, so I decided to go. My daughter put together a team to walk all night and had people pledge money for their accomplishments. As part of the opening ceremony, they have cancer survivors walk a victory lap. I wasn’t sure if I could do it, but wanted to try. So I did. Then they have a caregiver’s lap for those who have taken care of the cancer patient in their life. My wife walked that one and I walked another lap with her. Then I walked a 3rd lap. As my daughter was walking with me, I turned to her and said, “I want to see if I can run a lap.” So, we ran a full lap together. Now, we didn’t set any records. People walking were going faster than my “running,” but it was a big accomplishment. Before the night ended, I had walked 6 miles. What a huge turnaround and accomplishment!

I started going to the track a few times a week after that and began running and walking more. My goal was that I would run a 5K before the end of 2012. On the week before Christmas, that goal was accomplished as I ran my first 5K. I ran another in June of 2013. I have another one scheduled next month to run in as well. I began coaching basketball for an AAU program of high school girls, my daughter is one of them. I am so incredibly active now compared to my life before cancer. Losing the weight through the battle with cancer gave me the opportunity to hit “reset” and start living an active life again. It saved my life!

On August 23, 2011 – my priorities were money, possessions, and prestige. On August 24, 2011, my priorities were faith, family and friends. Cancer changed my life and refocused me on the things that truly matter. It gave me the chance to live, to enjoy life, and to invest heavily into my family and friends. Did it suck to have cancer? Absolutely! I still battle remaining issues from my surgeries. I get sick 20-25 times per day, every day. It’s not fun, but I am still in a better place today than I was before my diagnosis.

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On May 1, 2012, I was declared “cancer free.” I was fortunate to only have cancer for a short time compared to so many others who battle it for years. I’ve lost people very dear to me who battled it and it overcame them. At times I feel guilty that lived through it when others didn’t. There is no pride or ego that goes along with defeating this disease, just humble thankfulness.

I Heart My Guru List

guruI fully recognize that I would not be where I am today without countless numbers of people who have invested a portion of their lives into mine.  A great example would be a guy named Kenneth Johnson. I’ve never met him, but I attended a private school from 6th – 12th grades. My mom was working three jobs after having recently been divorced, and he approached my mother and offered to enroll me in a great private school in Dallas. We couldn’t afford the tuition, so he paid it for 7 years. That likely totaled more than $40,000 – and he did it anonymously and without the desire for thanks.

As I started considering a career, I was feeling like I should be a minister, so Dr. Doug Wood invited me to be an intern in the youth division of First Baptist Church in Dallas. At the time, it was the world’s largest Baptist church – and I got to work there. I went on to have 17 more years of serving churches as a youth minister after that. And when the time came for me to “retire” from youth ministry, Tom Cottar and Roger Shepherd gave me a shot as I started my own graphic design business. It grew quickly and helped me through a very unstable transition time in my life.

Then came my introduction to recruiting. I knew nothing of it until Mike Mayeux and Gene Brown asked me if I would close my design business and come join them in recruiting. They invested so many conversations with me and helped me to understand the philosophy and the strategic part of recruiting. Later, Dane Reese invested his time and knowledge into me and taught me more of the contract staffing side of the business, and gave me the freedom to develop new lines of business and manage a global team. Now, not many years removed from that introductory period, I am the Managing Director and a Partner at a recruiting firm in Austin. There is no telling where I would be, or what I would be doing, had all of those people not invested in me personally.  I am so thankful for each!

In light of this, I’d like to ask you to do two things:

  1. Think back over your life and consider who the “gurus” were that invested heavily in you. Reflect on them and be thankful to them.
  2. Consider whom you will now become a “guru” to.

A sponge has multiple purposes. It sucks up water,  but it also lets water out of it. Don’t just suck (hahaha). Don’t just be the person who takes and takes and takes. Make it a priority to give and give and give.

What do you think? Are you up for it? Let me hear about your personal gurus and then ways you can become a guru to others!

I Hate to Say “I Told You So,” But….

itoldyouso

For a few years now, I have tried to spread the word that recruitment strategies and processes would be undergoing a radical transformation away from what recruiters have been doing for the past 10-15 years. The shift in technology advances and possibilities, along with a new generational workforce would demand it. Some have paid attention and started to make the transitions that I recommended, but others took the stance that change is too hard and are sticking to the old way of doing things. This post is for the latter.

ERE.net just posted an article that states that UP TO 18% of new hires are made as a result of job boards (Monster, Careerbuilder, etc.). Notice I said, “UP TO.” There is other research that shows it to be around 12%, but many believe the actual number is 10%. Even in the best case scenario, 18% is not something that should be targeted as your go-to recruitment strategy! For many companies that I speak with, that is their ONLY recruitment strategy. And for those who are unemployed and looking for a job, if you apply on those job boards, you only have a 2% chance of getting the job if that is all that you do.

Let me paint the picture here…

ABC Company has the core recruitment strategy that if they post it, people will come.  And people do come, just not the ones that should be hired for the job opening.

John/Jane Doe is unemployed and they see an opening at ABC Company. They spend the time necessary to apply online and jump through the hoops, and especially all of the pre-screening questions that are so tight a flea can’t fit through them, and they get rejected. And most likely, they didn’t even receive an email from ABC Company stating that they were no longer being considered, or if they did – it came from a “Do Not Reply” email address.

This recruitment model is broken at so many levels, however, this is the way that many organizations are functioning today. You need help. Let me come meet with you and do a full evaluation on your recruitment strategies, processes, technologies, and people. I will provide both short-term and long-term recommendations on how you can develop a vibrant, effective, and even world-class recruitment strategy. Contact me at DDouglas@ppaac.com.

Excuses Are Like Armpits, Feet, and/or Buttholes

no-excusesI live, eat, and breathe recruiting. I came into the industry in an entry level role and tried to learn as much as possible through asking endless amounts of questions and watching/listening to recruiters around me. I have done pretty well and have been fortunate to be successful in this world of mine. I am now a Partner and the Managing Director at a fast growing recruiting firm in Austin, Texas (Providence Partners). In addition to my “real job,” I have become a speaker and presenter for SHRM (Society of Human Resource Management), HR.com, as well as speaking to various organizations, conferences, and even individual companies about recruitment strategies, processes, technologies, and how to establish a world-class recruiting environment. As a matter of fact, I have between 1500-2000 HR executives and leaders from around who tune in to my webcasts each month to hear my thoughts on recruiting. SHRM has me rated as one of their top 5 presenters. I told you I live, eat, and breathe this stuff!

When I speak with others about the current ways that most companies are recruiting, and how I feel that a great shift will happen in the next 2 years in the way that recruitment will need to be done (laying out the data and the reasoning behind what I say), they all agree that this shift is coming and that changes need to be made….but then here it comes…EXCUSES!

  • “That’s just overwhelming to think about and I wouldn’t even know where to start.”
  • “My executive/management team just doesn’t see the value in recruiting.”
  • “That would take a lot of hard work.”
  • “That would cost us some money.”
  • “That would require restructuring so many people.”

Blah, blah, blah….

I heard it said one time, and in sort of a crude way, that excuses are like buttholes. Everyone has them and they all stink! Over the years I have attempted to soften it a bit by using other stinky body parts (armpits or feet), but the original just gives it much more impact! Hahaha!

Sam Ewing once said “Hard work spotlights the character of people: some turn up their sleeves, some turn up their noses, and some don’t turn up at all.” As HR leaders, as management, as executives, we have been entrusted with leading an organization, and it’s employees, to making the RIGHT decisions, which is not always the EASY decision. An organization has life and it needs to be cared for, nurtured, fed, disciplined, and mentored so that it will grow to be strong and healthy and experience long life. The problem is that sometimes as leaders, we get too comfortable or we get too invested in the status quo and are reluctant to make changes because the outcome is not a certainty or guaranteed. Leaders may be nearing retirement and honestly may just want to leave that hard work for the next person, instead of tackling it themselves. We focus on short-term convenience, rather that long-term health.

Remember when you first started your career and you wanted to change the world, or at least the small part of it that you could see? You were daring! You were courageous! You were willing to take risks and roll up your sleeves and get after it…but now we have matured and we don’t want to cause uneasiness, and my sleeves are freshly pressed and they might get wrinkled. I hope I never tire of challenging the current state of things and looking for better, more effective, more efficient, and more cost effective ways of doing things! How boring would my life be?

Take up your challenges. Do what you were hired to do. Don’t be a butthole, armpit or even a foot!

How “Everyone Gets a Trophy” Has Impacted Us

trophyI was born in 1967. From my earliest of days, I remember being competitive. I remember playing football in the neighborhood with friends and always having to win. I remember having a basketball goal in my driveway and imagining hitting game winning shots at the final buzzer to win a championship. I remember playing checkers with my dad and not just wanting to win…but wanting to destroy him! I grew up in a musical family too, so competition was present their as well. If there was a talent show, I was going to win 1st place and get the biggest trophy. If there was a play or a musical, I would have the lead or the best solo. Winning was highly encouraged in my home growing up.

When I finished high school and college, I started to hear about youth sports leagues that were not going to keep score anymore, or that gave everyone the same trophy at the end of the season – not based on performance or achievement – just because they didn’t want anyone to feel inferior to someone else. I admit, I am not a psychologist and I have no idea how devastating it could be to an 8 year old if they came in 3rd place compared to 1st place. I guess there are those who would grow up to live in isolation and lack the interpersonal skills to be able to function in an adult world if they were edged out for the MVP of their soccer league at age 11. This whole concept was so foreign to me because of the way that I grew up.

As a young adult, I began working with junior high and high school students, and continued for almost 20 years. These were the very kids that grew up in the “everyone gets a trophy” age. And now, they are known as Gen Y or Millennials. I understand this generation, I believe, much better than most others would because I was so involved with them during those formative years. And now, as the Managing Director and Partner of a recruiting firm in Austin, Texas (Providence Partners), I see exactly how the “let’s not keep score” mindset has impacted their behaviors and thinking.

Employers now have had to change the way that they manager this generation. They’ve had to invest in technologies and tools that allow deeper collaboration and communication. The way recruiting is done is transforming because of some of the impact that the trophy mindset helped to establish. We now have 80 million people in or entering the workforce who have a deep need for immediate and constant reassurance of their value and the approval of the work they are doing. They hunger for quick responsive feedback. They have this need to feel involved in the strategic and inner thinking of an organization and feel that there should be no chain or command…that their ideas and thoughts should be just as valued as the CEO or a VP.

Gen Y or Millennials have this reputation for being uncommitted to their employers and always looking to transition into another job. I can see that and know that it happens. But the companies who have the most success in maintaining their Gen Y workforce are the ones who have adapted their management styles, recruitment strategies, and communication styles to adapt to the way they are wired. In a way, they still expect the trophy at the end of the week – only now it comes in the form of recognition, compliments, reassurance, and feeling valued in the work they do. If you want to see similar results, try making a few adaptations in your approach and see what happens!

Help! You’ve Gotten Your Hand Stuck in a Coconut!

Monkey stuckI read an interesting article one time about how to catch monkeys in the wild. The hunter will take a coconut, drill a small hole in the top, hollow it out, then place nuts and berries inside. Then they chain the coconut to a big tree in the area. The hole is just big enough for a monkey to slide their hand into the coconut, but once they grab the goodies inside and form a fist, the hand won’t fit to come out of the hole. The monkey is so stubborn about the goodies that they just won’t let go of the nuts and berries and get their hand out…so they just sit there until the hunter comes back to get them and take them away.

Recruiters are not much different than the monkeys mentioned above. They have found some goodies in a handful of places – whether it be a job board, a user group, college recruiting, even a process or a tool, etc. – and they have made that thing their primary way of recruiting for years to come as a result. The landscape around them changes quickly with new tools and resources and strategies taking form, but they won’t have anything to do with them because they hold tight to the goodies that once tasted so good. Others have begun to have consistent success around them using some other approaches, but nope – not gonna let go.

I work with companies all the time who have fallen into ruts. They think they are doing okay, maybe suspect that a few tweaks might be in order, but would be content to continue on with no changes if they were really honest. I had one such company bring me in to evaluate their entire recruiting structure – strategies, processes, technologies, people, etc. They wanted to place more of an emphasis on social media and were looking to me to give them information and a plan that would work for them. At the end of my evaluation though, social media was way down the list of the things that needed to be addressed with this organization. Their technologies were ineffective. They had no established processes. Management had become so discouraged by using their internal recruiting team that they simply asked them to post their openings and to funnel everyone to them so they could do the process of screening candidates in or out instead of leaving that to the professionals. They had no metrics established to measure performance and effectiveness. Social media wasn’t in the top 10 of what needed to be done. Other companies throw more recruiters at whatever the problem is and hope that will fix their issues, instead of taking the time to identify the true problem and address it. 

Change can be scary! But as the world around us advances and changes, it’s foolish to think that we can continue to hold tight to the goodies that we once found in a recruiting coconut and remain effective, much less…improve! A fresh set of eyes can be highly effective at taking an unbiased inventory of where things stand today, and how well you are set up to be successful in the future. If you are the company who has their hand clinched tightly inside the coconut, please reach out to me and let me come help you become free from this trap before the monkey hunter whacks you on the head and throws you in his bag! You know it needs to happen, just make the decision now to at least explore it through a conversation.

DDouglas@ppaac.com