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Posted on August 11, 2015
Filed Under Default | Comments Off on COMMENTARY ON THOUGHT LEADER LISTS Minus the Actual Practitioners

Gerry Crispin said it best to me recently, “Anyone who aspires to be more than a student of the profession he adopts is missing the point. Perhaps a student list would be more appropriate.”

Not all lists are equal – especially when one list is truly about 3 or 4 lists based on category. All of the following is an observation not about the merit of anyone listed but on the shrewd click bait strategy behind it or simply, exceptional laziness to avoid the extra work of splitting lists into their proper categories to make them relevant.

While aligning the alphabet with the new Glassdoor article, “2015 HR and Recruiting Thought Leaders to Follow” … I thought to myself silently ..”.Interesting list.”

Interesting for all the wrong reasons. Yet another list that’s dramatically weighted favorably on behalf of non-practitioners in Talent Acquisition versus recruitment marketing and event development. I see three lists with different categorical titles to be featured, yes most certainly. I do not see a “Talent Thought Leaders list” as in Talent Acquisition Thought Leaders List.

Now before I proceed, let’s start with a reader challenge, a game if you will: Click through the list and save each on a spreadsheet and measure and qualify the following:

1. Verify the ratio between those who are actual practitioners of corporate talent acquisition as compared to those profiles linked that state explicitly in their own profiles whether they do anything remotely specific to talent acquisition; i.e. recruit, source, lead each of the aforementioned with head count, and responsibility or influence of metrics and ROI.

2. Verify which of those individuals listed, state they are HR vs. Talent Development vs Human Capital vs Branding vs Recruitment Marketing. If yes, then why proceed further to fail to segment the list of accomplished individuals in their respective fields … in their own list category?

3. Verify further discount whether the person self identifies as either a Vendor or direct in-house or engagement capacity directly client facing in Corporate Talent Acquisition

4. Verify if the persons listed have ever tangibly been responsible, or influenced, in either a sourcing capacity or recruiting capacity that actually ever led to hire(s). Objectively speaking many of those listed have not met this minimal requirement.

5. Verify finally, whether individual(s) listed has recruited or sourced or overseen a team that has done either, in the past 5 years (Let’s be generous)

6. Do the proposed qualifiers prove accurate and consistent with the meaning of practitioner in the field of talent Acquisition – AND, if they do not, by what standard are your applying merit to “Thought Leader” designation?

7. By what measurable, quantifiable basis have they developed a process, a strategy, or other TA function that objectively influenced change as best practice in the broader industry, hence the applied and esteemed designation of “Talent Thought Leader”?

If none of the above points are allocated favorably – Glassdoor, why are they taking slots form actual practitioners of talent acquisition and who have actually hands-on viewed challenges and implemented solutions to qualify as a thought leader engaged in the vocation for which I am passionate about? Is the company that derives revenue for assessment of ranking on several qualifiers unable to do so for this one instance, or is this a broader systemic issue of “Brian Williams” caliber inconsistency with facts?

Does it in any way discount any achievements on the periphery of the TA industry at large? No. It reflects my logical opinion that a list is waiting for an author to list top leaders in those, other categories.

Does GlassDoor truly believe our vocation has to search high and low with such grandiose effort as to not find enough individuals who are practitioners to fill one list versus another? Granted whereas I do not believe this the case as opposed to throwing link bait into the socialsphere I find it undermines the credibility of a respected brabd that sells the product of reliable reviews. The list is on its own merits irrelevant for the most part to the statement posed “2015 HR and Recruiting Thought Leaders to Follow”
Now before I proceed I will not in any way diminuate the accomplishment of being noticed to anyone. Most certainly, I will burn pyres on he mountain tops across the Swiss Alps to ensure that Kudos given is Kudos warranted for the star power and – in complete disclosure, to my buddies, Bryan Chaney , Johnny Cambell, , Carrie Corbin, Pepsi super hero, Chris Hoyt and the ever delightful “Whamo factor” of Maren Hogan. I know my Lasik procedure is lasting three years post hence when my eyes focus on the obvious who’s who that commands every list for all reasons logical – the Godfather himself, Gerry Crispin who actually runs symposiums with actual W2 tax filed leadership in corporate boardrooms across the large expanse of a planet.

Rumor has it Gerry is perched on camouflaged tarp covered boxes in high tree tops with binoculars seeking the herding rituals and taking fastidious notes as he sees particular CHROs, Vice Presidents, Directors, Staffing Managers and – lo and behind recruiters and sourcers – observed live in the wild as practitioners sharing their failures, bets on technologies that didn’t rollout as planned and how they used creativity tape and glue to realign and ferment adoption that gave birth to an ROI win. It was a lovely birth albeit as you listen that Quarterly report on a conference call towards the journey sounds eerily familiar to the unrefined pallet after making sausage.

When I say Congrats to the ever talented, Cindy Cloud, we likewise observe the shocking omission of that the magical idea palace that is Informatica’s talent organization – and that leader in the trenches like no other, Brad Cook.

Brad Cook does more thought leadership on his napkin before eating his Wheaties than many others observed – same holds for Glenn Gutmacher, Danielle Monaghan, Will Staney, Andrew Gadomski Sean Rehder., Alex Putman John Turnberg. Andrew Heywood, Allison A Kruse, Jeff Weidner. While not distracting from the joyous clamor of fans to the familiar faces otherwise, it does not forgo the necessity of giving credit where its due. Correct? Not so much in the trending patterns of “Thought Leader Lists” – and all the more are sins of omission given voice in my post given it is supplied by no less than Glassdoor. This being the company that emphasizes the legitimacy of its rankings for best place to work … produced this list and Oh what a List it wasn’t!


Let me preface what follows by recognizing my opinion as the Crazy Idea it truly is in this pop culture laden, 3D printed spectacle. Here is my idea and grasp your seats as you continue reading my radicalism simmer in the alphabet:

“If we can get a man to the moon and back …. maybe,” … One day, let’s have a list of people with spend power to hire bleeding edge sourcers and recruiters using bleeding edge technology – you know the ones who actually have to show metrics while pushing vendors and tools to their limits and fashioning the technology industry into the image of what TA actually needs versus repeating the words “Transparency” and “Being Yourself” as if it runs the fuel for Tesla Motors. Forgive me, but I’d love to see the masters of ROI … and we know who they are – more people should.

When I helped populate RecruitingBlogs back in the day, the uniqueness of its ‘cool kids’ in TA churned out a more approachable class of thinkers … but in hindsight Pop Culture Recruitment as an industry has morphed from the idealistic vision of where technology effects the daily lives of our practitioners who churn out metrics as a solid narrative – into more conversations about those who write about what others do.
Recruitment Marketing is its own stream of talent … be it Maren Hogan, Rayanne Thorn, or Jessica Miller-Merrell — or silent brainiacs like Brent Skinner who reviews talent and HR technology. Granted a HUGE respect to this critical segment I liken to the Three Estates of the French Revolution gathering in street assemblies to hear the grievances and he rallying cries. These talented brethren observe and catalog, (and done so beautifully and virally I should add) with all the advantages to having front row seats to the Talent Revolution. They are the supply chain to our industry that narrates and assesses the fermenting rebellion against the manual tasks of faxes, post and pray of yesteryear versus their evangelism to our mission.

In between all the lists sites think are cute to ensure those who tweet will have “Share Power ACTIVATE(!!)” – you find when you turn right at the mine shaft, the “PRACTITIONER. He/She is unsung in heroics and lists gone viral. It’s a damn shame.
Those colleagues are in the trenches and smell the napalm in the morning … and i can tell you it is unpleasant and we never mind it, we have time to fill to consider, and source of hire, source of university to factor in and that takes ingenuity and boldness to risk being wrong when betting on a spend. We make the business case that results in budget buy in from stakeholders in the corporate leadership boardroom to equip us with automation, machine learning, and social data platforms that are in the DNA algorithm of our desktop screens.

There are many and there are a select few that empower their social brands to become an important part of the story of which talent platforms become mainstream in our offices to the right of the expresso and bouncy house we secretly confided as the rational for selecting an offer to lead from an Apple or an Uber or a Tesla Motors per se. Without the content of recruitment marketing, the masses in TA would lake the tangible described to us, akin as of through their capable ‘war correspondent eyes’ they make sense of new recruiting trends and its technology players as they finesse ideas new and old into market surfing the waves of APIs.

Let’s be ‘transparent’ (pop culture, code word alert). All the above being stated sincerely and substantively – that does not make for an honestly reflective “Talent Thought Leader” list weighted 3 out of 4 in favor versus names known in buildings where they use the tools, jerry-rig the tools to make them do things our vendors fail to produce for us or fail to do so well enough to make the volume of hires we are assessed by.

And then there are those I haven’t added because I’m 45 and forgetting where I leave my keys now, often. But let’s stop promoting the oddity and the spectacle of holding events that vendors are silly enough to extend beyond their 15 minutes and let’s focus on the doers … and that list is usually more honest when its on paper not on lists that you blink while recalling the names and the bar you mingled at. While they sip wine .. great unsung talent leaders are launching complex rollouts, change management and tying processes and technology into REAL Talent Acquisition solutions.

This list is more about who’s funky not building solutions. I’m 45 maybe I’m my grumpy pops … God Rest his soul … but a passionate Spaniard cannot be denied an observation.

Today it was written and I smiled. Truth to Power, Man. Groovy. Back to reviewing a Thought Leader list … Wait Who?!


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