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Date: Tuesday, 09 Sep 2014 14:36

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It’s 5:45 in the morning and I’m up, looking out the window. The dawn is starting to break on the familiar hill above the farm. The sunlight is filtering through clouds and trees, onto a dew-covered pasture littered with cows and their calves.

The upstairs is a little cold, but I can smell the coffee and conversation coming from downstairs. I walk into the kitchen bleary-eyed to see my grandpa in his chair, drinking coffee while talking to grandma. She’s cooking eggs, bacon, and toast. I get brought into the conversation immediately, sitting on grandpa’s lap, telling him an important story about something only a seven year old (and, apparently, a 65 year old) would care about.

Days like that were made for my grandpa, Lawrence D. Shinn, who left this world at 90 years young just a week and a half ago. On any given day, there could be any number of things on the agenda with a few constants. Maybe moving the cows to a new field, or feeding them hay. Probably cutting wood for the winter, especially in the waning days of summer or early fall. Or working on any number of barns, outbuildings, or house projects. He loved working with his hands, on his 160 acre farm north of Portland for more than seven decades.

There were the constants of food at the farm: lunch at noon sharp, strawberry jam, fresh and canned homegrown vegetables, ice cream sandwiches in the freezer, finding hard candy in random shirt or jacket pockets, and slicing apples or eating oranges in the recliner in the living room.

There was a rotating cast of characters who came and went throughout the day. An uncle or aunt. Cousins — so many cousins. A neighbor dropping by. A friend, maybe from out of town. They were always welcome. Some of them were up for a farm adventure or just visiting, but it always came back to grandpa.

He was a man with a great sense of humor and a great laugh. He made quick friends with the people who met him. He was strong but had a soft heart for his wife of 56 years, his kids, and the rest of us. He was devoted to his family. He taught us that actions spoke louder than words and that the way we treated each other was important. He was honest, humble, and he gave back what he received from this life several times over.

He was stubborn and ornery at times, a trait many of us inherited. He made sure his family made it to church, even when the roads were covered in snow and the only vehicle that could hold the whole brood was a 1963, rear-wheel drive Cadillac that better resembled a sled than a vehicle intended for driving.

He was smart and could figure out any mechanical issue with ease. He never saw problems as unsolvable and came up with ingenious ways to accomplish the challenges that farm life presented. A little cabin built decades ago was expanded again and again, becoming one of the best built Frankenhouses ever. Its halls and basement put up with decades of kids running, yelling, and spilling. Somehow it stayed in pretty good shape.

He loved the outdoors and had an appreciation for the beautiful country he lived in. He also loved traveling, especially via the road. Many of our fondest memories involve traveling the west with him. Long trips were made easier with family and easy conversation, though he truly loved getting away with grandma.

He lived a full life, shared with the people he loved, doing work that he was good at and enjoyed. And in the end, he left with little else to accomplish. A life complete. We should all be so fortunate.

The farm is a little quieter these days but the legacy of my grandfather lives on — through seven kids, 14 grandchildren, 20 great-grandchildren, two great-great-grandchildren, and dozens of people who married in, invited themselves over, and shared a hug with him.

When I look around the family, I see parts of my grandfather everywhere. We all have our own separate pieces of his personality and wisdom. But I worry about the family he leaves behind. I wonder what happens to us when we forget that despite our differences, we’re all connected to a man who wanted more than anything for us to love each other like he loved each of us. I hope his influence doesn’t wane in us.

It’s a sad day for me because I’ll miss him being a part of my daughter’s life like he was part of mine and that the lessons and example I’ll be able to pass on can’t compare. He wasn’t a perfect man, but he was perfect for us and our family.

Grandpa Shinn was one of a kind, and I’ll miss his stories, laughter, wisdom, and deep love he shared with our family and with me.

We all have a finite time here on this world and he made the most of each day in simple ways. It always started with that coffee and laugh in the morning, though. That’s what I’ll remember most.

Author: "Lance Haun" Tags: "Writing"
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Date: Tuesday, 05 Aug 2014 13:50

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Dear Elida,

We’re four months into our journey together in parenthood. Everything that everyone told us about it is true, too.

  • Babies don’t sleep well
  • Babies need things
  • Babies are disgusting

So…

  • I don’t sleep well
  • I don’t get things
  • I get to clean up disgusting things

All of the good things are true, too. I mean, look at that picture of you. That’s what I wake up to at 5:00 am. That gives me the energy necessary to brew my first pot of coffee. Everything takes care of itself after that.

I’ve never been one to complain or be particularly argumentative. Fights between your mom and I are a rare occasion. When they do happen, I make it worse by laughing and saying something like, “Come on!” I’m not saying that being fairly laid back is a requirement for having an agreeable parenting experience. It does help, though.

There are still limits to that laid back attitude, though. We were visiting your grandparents down in Portland a few months ago and I set you on the couch to make a bottle really quick. I’d done it a bunch at home.  Not 20 seconds later do I hear a little thud. You kicked herself off the thankfully low couch onto the thankfully carpeted floor.

I ran over to grab you and found you half upset/half startled. I picked you up, put you over my shoulder, and you started bawling. Very sad and dramatic. That was the first time that you really grabbed on to me and held me like a little person.

So, while I don’t leave you unaccompanied on anything except for a crib or pack n’ play anymore, that moment will burn forever in my head. Not because I’m an idiot, either.

I’m an idiot a lot.

But that was really the first time I saw you as something separate from your mom and I. Before that, I always just thought of you as an extension of us. You were always around us. You did whatever we wanted you to do. The limit of your emotions were around being tired and being hungry, both of which had pretty predictable cadences. That time felt like the first time you knew you needed me right at that moment.

When you’re older, you’ll be smart enough to realize that I was the one that put you in that spot in the first place. I imagine a feistier, older Elida punching my arm for that.

Now at four months, you grab a hold of me all of the time and do other things to remind us you’re really a distinct person. In the morning, after work, when you’re grumpy, when you’re happy… we start seeing little pieces of both of us independently expressed. Simple personality traits now but certainly on their way to becoming more complex.

It’s exciting. While you’re just starting to hit the fat, adorable baby stage, you’re also starting to discover your world one day at a time. Having a cute baby is nice but having one independent and observing of the world is a joy.

I never thought I would love having a baby. I always imagined that if I could skip the infant stuff and go straight to an adoring older toddler with good listening skills, I’d be the happiest person in the world. It’s great to go through this stage day by day, though. I realize why people really love it and why, in spite of crazy amounts of sleep deprivation, having another one sounds appealing. Not now, but maybe later.

There are a million things I could write about your budding personality but the biggest parts that stick out are your independence and your ease of loving anyone who takes care of you. While we have a primary nanny, we have a variety of fill in care as well as family members and the daycare at the gym that regularly interact with you.

You’re always happy to see us but you also seem content with nannies, family members, and whoever else is willing to give you some attention and laughs. No tears yet when mom leaves for work or dad leaves for a long trip. At least not from you.

In closing, I can’t wait to see what the next few months of development bring for us. We can’t wait to show you the world. And maybe we’ll start to get some more sleep? Hey, I can hope, right?

Love,

Dad

Author: "Lance Haun" Tags: "General"
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Date: Tuesday, 29 Jul 2014 14:04

I’m not joking when I tell you I didn’t read any parenting book or blog before our little girl arrived four months ago.  It’s not because I thought I knew better than the countless parents that have written about parenting. I have no idea what I’m doing, just like the rest of you guys.

Given my wife’s penchant for research and reading, she probably read a lot more than me. I just took the approach of, “Well, if we get stuck, we’ll Google it or call a doctor.”

In the first few weeks, I was trying to get my wife some sleep and trying to get our little girl sleeping for longer periods of time. It was 1:00 am and I thought, “Oh, let me Google that.”

What a mistake.

Well, investigating it wasn’t a mistake. For example, the Mayo Clinic has some excellent resources. Diving into blogs and forums devoted to parenting was. The specific advice wasn’t necessarily good or bad. Just kidding, some of the advice was bad and downright dangerous. But that’s wasn’t my biggest problem with it, that’s simply a hazard of the unfiltered internet.

What I saw was people who tore others down over not just common things like cloth diapering versus disposable, but which disposable diaper you use. Then there was another group of people that seek validation (or seek to validate everyone) and lashes out at people who may disagree with you putting raw honey on your one month old’s pacifier.

That’s a bad idea.

Of course, most of these blogs and forum sites are funded by advertising from huge consumer packaging goods and drug companies. And hey, look. I’m a capitalist. I don’t really care. But tell me these companies don’t love this idea of an empowered, yet completely confused, angry, and misdirected group of parents. Nothing makes you overspend on smashed cooked carrots like someone telling you that you’re a better parent for buying a particular brand.

It’s easy to over-complicate issues as a parent. Looking to the internet for the answers isn’t a bad idea but being aware of your sources is a requirement. People naturally seek validation for their ideas but it is amazing how things can improve when you open your mind to the right information from the right places.

I’m not a “stick it to the man” sort of guy but it doesn’t hurt to take a little bit of the confusion out of parenting. Not only for yourself and your kid, but just to take back information from sites that focus on everything but the relationship between you and your child. The toys, the clothes, the food… yes, you need it. But you also need to observe your kid and see what they like and don’t like. You can’t buy a great childhood for your kids in a package or medicine bottle.

Author: "Lance Haun" Tags: "General"
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Date: Friday, 25 Jul 2014 14:27

I don’t think my sleep trajectory is any different than a lot of folks:

  • From high school through college and a little beyond, I was a flat out night owl — staying up until 2-3am consistently, regardless of when I had to get up.
  • Beyond college, I adapted to a more normal schedule of sleeping at 11 or mdnight and getting up around six.
  • Now, post kid, I find myself starting getting down to bed at 9-10pm and up at 4-6am  (with all of the interruptions, of course).

The reason I mention this is because I haven’t slept in for awhile. While I was in Las Vegas for summer league though, I ended up sleeping in until 10:30 in the morning — almost missing my lunch. It was the first time I had slept past eight for… who knows how long?

There’s research out there that actually says a night owl’s brain is different than a morning person’s or just a regular person. They don’t know if night owl tendencies resulted in brain changes or if genetic variations cause brains to be different and therefore, be more of a night owl.

Many successful CEOs wake up early, but so do bakers and sanitation workers. I don’t think you’re destined for success just because you wake up early.

While I thought I was getting a lot of stuff done when I was closer to a night owl — after all, this blog was mostly written at nights from 2006-2009 — the fact is, I get more accomplished when I wake up earlier. I may not be bouncing out of bed at 5am most mornings but by 6-7am, I’m a pretty functional human being!

What’s your take? Do you get up early — by choice or otherwise — or do you stay up late and sleep in whenever possible? Have you found it affects any part of your life positively or negatively?

Author: "Lance Haun" Tags: "General"
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Date: Thursday, 24 Jul 2014 14:30

I’ve been working from home for more than five years. It’s a wonderful thing that would be tough to trade for a commute and an office again.

That’s even more so with our little one in the house full-time. Between her and our nanny, it’s the first time I’ve had full-time “coworkers” in the same space for more than a few days. 10176249_10101285321352773_874860828545337944_n

That’s if you don’t include my cat. I certainly don’t.

I’ll be honest with you: it’s been nice to have human interaction between the hours of 7am and 6pm that didn’t involve going to a coffee shop or a Subway. As an introvert, I didn’t think I missed it but I did.

One of the things I love about working for The Starr Conspiracy is their liberal use of Google Hangouts. It’s actually nice seeing other people’s faces at least once a day.

The thing that was really weird about living in the Seattle area was how strangely cool people were and how genuinely nice people are here in Richland. We joked about the Seattle freeze until we actually lived there. When we walk out on the street or in the park away from there, people say hi and even the kids are friendlier.

I’m not making a value judgment but I will say that the last few months have opened me to the idea that I may need a local community. We’ve been so mobile in the past, it’s been easy to just forget about it and just have a few friends that we knew. Even though it’s tough to make friends after 30, who says it isn’t worthwhile?

We have a great community of friends back in Portland we’d love to get back to one day. I don’t know when that will happen, though. There’s no sense in waiting it out anymore.

Author: "Lance Haun" Tags: "General"
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Date: Wednesday, 23 Jul 2014 13:27
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I just got back from NBA Summer League in Las Vegas. For those not in the know, it’s a time when rookies and those looking to make a team’s 15-man roster come to play for almost two weeks in scrimmages. The event is small and fairly inside. It was my second year going with the guys from The 8 Man Rotation.

The biggest names in the NBA aren’t there. There was no LeBron James. Nor was there Kevin Durant. Instead, you had rookies getting their first taste of team action and free agents and walk on’s looking for a shot at riding the end of the bench (or just making the roster) because there is usually better money in trying to make it work in the NBA than going overseas.

The basketball can be ugly at times and while these are — by any objective measure — some of the best basketball players in the world, most of them are not the top players in the league and a vast majority won’t see significant time as even a starter.

It got me thinking a lot about this pursuit for top talent. Everybody wants “A” players. Any team in the league would’ve welcomed James onto their team this offseason (yes, even the Spurs). With the collective bargaining agreement with the NBA Players Association in place, any team that signs him gets a great deal. There are only a handful of players like him ever, much less playing at any given time.

For the 26-28 teams a year that can’t snag a once a decade player like James or Durant, they figure out ways to remain competitive. Most teams have a great player or two, a few good ones, and then a long tail of flawed players in one way or another.

You take a look at the San Antonio Spurs and you see that method. Tim Duncan may be the best power forward to play the game but he wasn’t the best power forward this year. You see a lot of players who are great to good to flawed, in one way or another. You look at Miami’s successful title runs and see the same line of players. Some great. Some not-so-great.

Identifying the top players in the NBA is easy. If you have the salary and they have the desire to join your team, you make it happen. Convincing them to come to your team over the 29 other options? I’ll give you that.

But no team wins on top talent alone. The Spurs had nine guys who averaged at least 19 minutes game over the full season last year. There are probably a few names a casual fan wouldn’t recognize in that list too: Belinelli, Splitter, Diaw, and Mills.

These aren’t the top players in the league. They are good role players, with some great strengths and some significant weaknesses. And they were available within the budget they had to work with.

While everyone will talk about the stars in the NBA, especially when it comes to winning a championship, what it really comes down to is who can step up from your supporting cast. Even the best and most fit players need to spend time off the court. Who can give you those 10-15 minutes off the bench every night and keep you in a tight game in Memphis on a Tuesday night in January?

The difference between good teams and great teams is that talent identification didn’t end with just figuring out who can be your “A” talent. They went down the line and looked at who best fit in “B” or even “C” roles on the team. Every team has a budget they need to stay in and you can’t fit more than two or three top paid players on your team. With five guys as starters and at least three regular rotation players, that means every team out there is playing a lot of non-top talent night after night.

You won’t see their highlights on SportsCenter. Their contribution is critical, though. And smart teams have spent time and significant money finding better ways to identify who will be the role players and backup talent needed to win.

When you’re talking about the “War for Talent” and hunting purple squirrels, just remember one thing: successful hiring is more than just finding the best talent, it’s about finding the right talent, for the right price, that fits with the current skill set of the organization. Anybody should be able to identify the best and if you have the budget to afford hiring the best in every position, you are welcome to try.

Smart teams make strategic moves to find the right A, B, and C talent to fill a roster without going over their cap. The best ones can spot B and C talent and knows where they fit in. Let your competitors figure out where they can find a LeBron James of your industry, while you figure out how to fill your team with solid contributors who can make a difference at the right price.

Author: "Lance Haun" Tags: "HR"
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Date: Tuesday, 24 Jun 2014 13:06

Context.

For candidates, it’s everything. If you’re driving the talent strategy for your organization, you should know that candidates want and need context to make the best decisions for themselves and for you.

Sure, maybe the best folks have done deep research, maybe spent some time on Glassdoor, or read up on the latest company news. Most candidates fly in blind to your organization’s career site, though. They get there via a job board or a referral. They may have seen a tweet someone sent them.

And if you leave them in the dark about your recruiting process or make it unclear what they should expect, they won’t give you the benefit of the doubt and they’ll assume you’re one of those companies: the kind that never calls back. That leaves a bad taste in any candidate’s mouth.

The 2013 Candidate Experience Survey Report proves this out as well. Of those who had a great candidate experience, 80 percent had details of the next steps in the application process and 68 percent found it useful. As the candidate experience declined, so too does the proportion of people who were aware of those critical next step details.

That’s not good. So what should candidates expect from your organization?

Read the four things candidates should expect over at The Candidate Experience site.

Author: "Lance Haun" Tags: "HR"
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Date: Tuesday, 20 May 2014 16:11

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I never thought much about certifying as an HR pro. I get it. You want to be shown as a knowledgeable professional and get some letters after your name. That’s great. It was never a big deal to me, though. For some though, it was a big deal and I can respect that.

Now, it looks like the clarity of what those letters mean is in serious jeopardy. SHRM is creating their own certification and doing nearly everything in their power to disassociate themselves with HRCI — including uninviting them from the annual conference. Ouch.

The delineation between HRCI and SHRM was something that was unclear to me until a few years ago and it probably was to many HR pros until just recently. I have received no less than a half dozen emails from SHRM and HRCI regarding this and it is perfectly clear now that these organizations aren’t in stride and haven’t been for awhile.

I’ve seen HR pros outraged or shocked by the move all over these great internets. I’ve seen some support it. No matter which side you take, the groundwork for this move has been laid for years and was roundly ignored by nearly everyone.

Starting in 2010, there was a group of people called SHRM Members for Transparency that had concerns they made public after a long period of behind the scenes work. My colleague John Hollon covered this group extensively. This was much to the collective disdain of SHRM itself and the yawns of members. SMFT’s concerns included:

  • Board compensation increases
  • Board compensation unchecked by independent committee
  • Unrestricted first class travel for board members
  • Only 38 percent of board members having at least a PHR certification
  • Only 60 percent of board members are HR pros
  • SHRM CEO is a finance pro, not an HR pro
  • SHRM board uses a search firm to find board members, including those uncertified and not members of SHRM
  • SHRM board retains nearly all power, with extremely limited member recourse

There’s a whole section — now outdated — focused on the board’s lack of connection to HRCI certification. That’s a tad bit of foreshadowing for you.

When these stories were gaining steam, I remember asking some of the HR pros in my area about it. Most of them didn’t know and didn’t care when I explained it. Those who has heard about it felt like it was overblown, took SHRM’s assurances as good, and went on with their life. While clearly there were some things that weren’t quite right at SHRM, it didn’t impact them. SHRM wanted to take some money from their massive reserves to pay a little extra to board members? Meh. Once SHRM decided to keep dues the same, any potential widespread discontent was quickly snuffed.

Now, nearly four years later, these same folks suddenly care about it because their credential is at risk?

Sorry PHRs, SPHRs, and GPHRs. I don’t see this one getting walked back very easily. You may get easily credentialed with SHRM or you may choose to stick with HRCI but those letters are going to become a lot more confusing for the people who care about having knowledgeable and competent HR people running their shops.

There are some people I do feel sorry for — like educators who’ve spent years working with SHRM and HRCI on training, or those stuck in limbo of gaining certification in the interim. For those who have been associated with both SHRM and HRCI for decades, and who couldn’t be concerned with a few non-certified board members or a couple grand in compensation a few years ago? You’re a smart, strategic HR pro. You can anticipate changes before they happen. What did you expect and how are you surprised?

Author: "Lance Haun" Tags: "HR"
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Date: Wednesday, 02 Apr 2014 14:36

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Dear Elida,

You joined us just a week ago. While the timing was a little off, we were happy to see your screaming face at 6:26 AM on an otherwise nondescript Tuesday morning. Your mom got more sleep than I did the night before you came, though it probably wasn’t the most relaxing. I sat up in the world’s least comfortable bed contemplating everything I thought I had a few weeks to figure out.

Of course, everyone tells you that your life is going to change once your first child arrives. A week in, I can tell you that in a very real sense, it has. It was everything promised to us. Sleepless nights? Check. Google every possible malady when you get a random hiccup fit or act strange? Double check. Eating meals in shifts, during naps, or multitasking? Yeah. You are ruthlessly stubborn and sincerely sweet, all at the same time. You definitely get that from your mother.

What people don’t tell you is the other ways your life changes thanks to a little peanut who tips the scales at less than six pounds.

Your mother and I enjoyed our life before you came into the world. For most of that time, we never felt incomplete or lacking anything of consequence. We spent eight years doing what we loved: seeing places, taking new adventures, and moving. Lots and lots of moving.

When your cousin was born though, we knew we wanted to have a baby. For three years, we didn’t know if it would happen. If you looked at your parent’s browser histories during that time, you would see too many searches about fertility and adoption to count. We talked to friends and family members who had done both. We had started investigating options once things didn’t come as quickly as we had hoped.

As our friends started having kids, we were delighted for them while still wondering when our time would come. There were tears and doubts along the way, too many to count.

We soon found out that our troubles didn’t have as much to do with fertility as it had with your mother’s absent thyroid gland. Adjusting the medication she took to supplement for a thyroid lost to cancer meant we started to see some results. Quickly.

About a year ago, she got pregnant. We were overjoyed. She came back from the store one day with the tiniest socks to tell me. We knew it was possible but we never knew it would be this quick.

When I was in Florida on a business trip, I got a call from your mother and I knew immediately what it was. We lost the baby. I was physically ill, in a beautiful, oceanfront room 3,000 miles away. I flew home as quick as I could, but there was nothing either one of us could do. In that moment, it felt like there was a weight on us, holding us down. I contemplated getting rid of those socks when I saw them in a dresser a few weeks later but decided to keep them.

On a business trip a few months later, I got a call from her saying she was pregnant again. And that she got a promotion, and that we were going to be moving again. Life was going to be busy but we were cautiously optimistic that this would work out.

Lucky for us, it did.

Putting together baby furniture or putting your car seat in the car for the first of a few hundred times never really registered with my brain that something was different. I knew that my life was going to change thanks to you, but other than the superficial ways that everyone talks about, I had no idea what that really meant.

When you arrived, what people couldn’t put into words made sense.

Seeing the look on your mother’s face when she held you for the first time — and I will tell you that newborns are not, in any way, objectively attractive, despite what TV shows seem to suggest — flooded my memories with the thousands of other times she has shown me strength, warmth, grace, kindness, understanding, and unconditional love. It reminded me not just why I initially loved her but why my love for her continues to grow every day. It makes me hope that you have more of her in you than you have of me because even when I haven’t been able to love myself, I’ve always been able to love her.

Holding you for the first time felt like the end of one big road trip and the beginning of the next. It reminded me that the way we get to the biggest milestones in our lives matter. Success and hardships alike sharpened our senses for your arrival. You arrived at the perfect imperfect time, another reminder about the difficulties of executing even the best laid plans.

Having you in my arms that day was one of the best days of my life because of the big and little things along the way that made it possible. And because it happened this way — this unique way — it will change our way forward too. There was nothing to be flippant about. It wasn’t easy getting you here and it won’t always be easy going forward.

I tried putting those tiny socks on but they were still a bit too big. We’ll get to keep them a little while longer, to remind us of the journey we took to get you and a reminder that life will never be the same. Because it never has been.

Love,

Dad

Author: "Lance Haun" Tags: "General"
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Date: Friday, 14 Mar 2014 14:20

I’ve seen a few people talk about the fact that they have (or don’t have) access to LinkedIn’s latest “thing that isn’t job searching”: LinkedIn Influencer. Now, like other business celebrities, you too can exert your influence on the multitudes of LinkedIn users. You create content on LinkedIn, LinkedIn’s algorithms hopefully share it far and wide, and then you become influential.

I won’t pick on LinkedIn too much — though I will note that if everyone is an influencer, no one really is — but it’s the same thing I’ve seen with other content syndication and non-paid writing gigs. You’ll get great exposure! Write for us often!

I’m not here to judge you if you want to write content for free. I know I have. But, I also mostly get paid to write. That’s important to me, I like doing it and I don’t worry too much about people who don’t get paid.

I am going to judge you if you have a poor strategy when creating content for somebody else, on their platform, for free, and all you hope to get from it is name recognition. The face of content is changing on the web but don’t be stupid about it. Here are five tips to make the most out of your digital content presence:

  1. Don’t just write on LinkedIn (or Forbes, or Huffington Post, or someone else’s site). Unless you are getting cash money to write for these folks, you should probably be judicious in how you use these sites. Understand the terms, particularly their ability to use the piece you create on associated sites and originality requirements.
  2. Create a social hub. You can use WordPress.com, Blogspot, Tumblr, or any number of blogging sites (or you can host it on your own). Copy (or excerpt, if what you wrote has to be original) pieces that you write for these other websites to your social hub and share the pieces from there to your social networks. Any original pieces should obviously come from here.
  3. Buy a domain name and direct it to your hub.  Blogspot and Tumblr are free to use your own domain name with, but the domain name will cost $10. Don’t be cheap and just go for whatever.blogspot.com. That’s a fool’s game. While you don’t necessarily control those sites where you can host your social hub, you do control your domain name which means moving content becomes possible as well as always being able to capture your own traffic.
  4. Include links back to your social hub in everything you write. Even if it is a paid assignment, I’d rather have a link back to my site than an abbreviated bio and it never hurts to ask. If you’re being asked to contribute to a site for free (or you’re doing the contributing to a site), this is the bare minimum. Allow people direct access to where they can find more stuff from you.
  5. Spread your words to different audiences. If you write about the same topics, for the same publications, you’re going to hit a saturation point with the audience. Unless you’re writing to be a writer, you’re usually writing to sell something else (yourself, your business, your idea). Hit diverse publications, especially initially, and if you find one publication does better than most for you, focus there.

One last note: these rules will probably change tomorrow. That’s a problem because I actually wrote this post yesterday. What won’t change is this: ownership and control should always be in the back of your mind if you’re going to play this game. How do you continue to cut out the middle man and take your message directly to people who want to hear it while expanding that audience?

Author: "Lance Haun" Tags: "Technology, Writing"
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Date: Wednesday, 11 Dec 2013 14:47

This week, I read a story on ESPN about how Mack Brown, coach of the University of Texas football team, is going to resign this week:

The source reiterated Brown would not be coaching at Texas in 2014.

“By the end of the week, that will be the outcome,” the source told ESPN. “That will happen. It’s a shame after 16 years he’s not able to do it on his own with dignity and grace.”

I have no idea if it will actually happen, but that part about doing it on his own terms, with dignity and grace? Yeah I’ve heard that song and dance before.

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Coaches get fired and hired all of the time. In fact, Brown’s case is an anomaly. 16 years at one school, as head coach, is damn near impossible. The guy they want to hire — Nick Saban — has had four jobs in that same time period. It’s also not the first time people have probably wanted him gone, either.

The idea that Mack Brown deserves the grace and dignity to part on his own terms (or should have come to the conclusion on his own and fallen on his sword) is a mythology rooted in faux “We Care” corporate double-talk though. Here’s the real deal: when you’re the second highest paid coach in the country and you perform worse than many of the guys making half (or less) of your salary, it’s probably time for the college to cut you loose.

A forced resignation, an encouraged resignation, or a resignation that Texas allows Brown to do on his own terms? It’s a transparent attempt by a weak organization to shirk their decision-making responsibilities.

I’ve been a part of conversations where I’ve encouraged people to look for a new job (after, obviously, many months of working with them). I’ve also been a part of conversations where managers want to let legacy employees hang around while they look for new digs (or, even worse, await retirement). They deserve it, they’ll say. In reality, they don’t want to have the tough conversations or take responsibility. They hope the employee will feel enough guilt to leave on their own or they’ll find something new.

There’s nothing noble in forcing a resignation to keep your own slate clean. Own your decision and make it.

Author: "Lance Haun" Tags: "General"
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Date: Monday, 02 Dec 2013 14:51

Sorry, you were tricked. There is no video. But before you go, you should realize that when you click on stories with this kind of title, you’re always being tricked.

When people talk about consumption in the US, they often talk about the mindless stuff we buy. The biggest offender in these critic’s minds are these Black Friday type of events where people stand in line for hours to save a few hundred dollars on a bigger TV. And there is even more outrage about stores that are open on Thanksgiving now for shopping.

When I think about awful consumption patterns though, I think the way we consume information about our world. I don’t want to sound too much like a guy who thinks you should get off his lawn, but while the internet has the great potential to free information from the bounds of corporate or government control, it also has the ability to play to the lowest common denominator.

This isn’t a recent phenomena, either. Upworthy is one of the worst offenders of playing to this demographic (and has a spoof article generator to show how formulaic the whole system really is) but it would be unfair to leave out sites like Buzzfeed, Viral Nova, or even, at times, The Huffington Post.

I think there is something great about getting to the point quickly, or working on provocative titles that invite a reader into a story. There’s also something about being entertaining or funny. But look at this title: “This Surprising 20 Second Video Explains the Decline of Journalism.”   Or this one “This Puppy Taught Me More In 1 Minute Than Anyone Else Has Done In A Lifetime.” What do you get out of that? Do you really think you can get to the core of the decline of journalism or life itself in less than a minute?

Of course not.

Yet, we see these types of articles get traction with readers, time and time again. For example, The Atlantic is running a big series on how energy usage is shifting. None of the articles over the last month have more than a few hundred shares. Meanwhile a post about how Hawaii will ruin you on The Huffington Post has over 10,000 shares.

We can do better, right?

There’s no easy solution and there might not be one at all. We’re not going back to having three TV stations and one local newspaper (and I don’t think that is better).

It’s easy to blame young people for this trend but young people have never consumed the most news (and, at least anecdotally, that’s not who I see sharing this vapid nonsense). While social media contributes to it, there’s always been a market for this and there probably always will be.

Unfortunately, it comes at a time when dollars for advertising are already tight. Journalists will have to decide if they want to go down this path, consumers have to decide if this is the type of media they want to support, and advertisers will have to decide if eyeballs are all that matters.

Author: "Lance Haun" Tags: "Media"
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Date: Thursday, 03 Oct 2013 20:57

sourcecon_logo_RGB_300dpi

I’m a big fan of cool tools. I have an iPad Mini and a Pebble watch. I’m typing this on a Chromebook (and I can’t wait to get the HP Chromebook 14). If there is a writing app out there, I’ve tried it. If there’s a note taking app, I’ve tried it as well. Both usually get relegated because of my love for Google Docs.

As we are wrapping up SourceCon though, what stuck out to me wasn’t so much the latest tips and tools to help those closest to the ground. The biggest takeaway was that sourcing — as a defined, widespread function across multiple industries — is beginning to drive some real, significant, and recognized strategic advantages.

Sourcing old-timers will dispute the notion that sourcing is just now beginning to drive strategic value. And you can go back to the earliest iterations of how sourcing really started and you’ll see many great examples of how sourcing has driven bottom-line results for decades. No joke. I’m not minimizing it one bit.

Between the audience growth here at SourceCon and the maturity of the topics and tools that enable sourcing though, what you’re seeing is an active evolution of how talent acquisition is understood and done on a very essential level. Sourcing is moving beyond the early-adoption phase. Just like it would be insane to manage any sort of requisition load without an ATS, it is increasingly difficult to ignore the essential nature of sourcing for talent acquisition.

Consider me a biased source. I was the SourceCon editor for over a year. But I have no dog in this fight anymore. But this has been festering for years and if it weren’t for a recession that gutted corporate recruiter budgets and decimated agencies, it would’ve happened years earlier.

Three trends that are pointing to this evolution to me:

  • The ranks are getting larger — It’s not just about SourceCon either. The money is getting better as Editor-in-chief Jeremy Roberts talked about in the opening keynote and there are more corporate roles for those who want it.
  • The conversation is changing — Beyond doing the job, we’re now talking about expansion, structure, and strategic initiatives that are critical parts of a larger corporate view.
  • More mature software platforms — The rise of mature sourcing tools is more than an isolated canary in a coal mine. It is an indicator of corporate spending and investor optimism.

As sourcing continues to move beyond early-adopter phase, I think you’ll see:

  • More leadership involvement — Not just increased sourcing leadership but talent acquisition and yes, even HR leaders are going to be taking more notice and be deeply involved in sourcing. The expansion of sourcing is going to have more stakeholders, not less and will require working more closely, not less with these key roles.
  • Talent shortage time — Talented sourcers are rarely without a job for very long. Sourcing expertise, especially at the strategic level, is going to be short for years. There are many educational opportunities for sourcers but look for more companies to build these teams internally.
  • The wide and fuzzy gray line — The line between sourcing and recruiting is going to become more clear, but not for awhile. As sourcers start act more like candidate marketers (focused on demand generation and branding), there will be a clear delineation between the two.

And of course, we’ll still have cool tools. In fact, if the last two years are any indication, the tools of the trade are getting cooler. But, I’m particularly excited about the growth and evolution of sourcing as a necessary functional component of talent acquisition teams everywhere.

Author: "Lance Haun" Tags: "HR"
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Date: Thursday, 26 Sep 2013 14:37

548px-Karl_MarxCarmen Hudson recently shared an article about the future of hiring, referencing Elance’s new private talent cloud:

The cloud cuts out waste and that’s why people love it. Companies and individuals call upon storage space in the magical ether as they need it, without spending a penny more than they use. Gone are the days of servers idling half empty in a building, barely used hard-drives cluttering up desks. Everything becomes more efficient, organizations get leaner, the fat is trimmed.

But what if the fat that the cloud cuts out isn’t machine fat at all? What if it’s human fat?

I’m not talking about Fitbit making you fitter or some freaky new plastic surgery in the cloud procedure. I’m talking about applying the principals of the cloud to managing the human workforce. Imagine, instead of just drawing on servers and processing power on an as-needed basis, companies also draw on people that way. A workforce that operates like the cloud, swelling and shrinking at a moment’s notice.

The way organizations are using people in their organization is changing, and it is diverging with two radically different paths and two different promises.

One ideological path takes us away from humans as resources into something of an organizational alignment. Finding people and teams with shared ambitions, moving toward a common goal. The other further entrenches people as resources, to be bought like any other good. Plug and play and if one resource burns out, replace it with another to meet your objectives.

Funny enough, both promise freedom and progress and play with the idea that business ambitions are simply a collection of human ambitions. They just try to go about solving for that reality in a different way.

I don’t have anything smart to add in here other than to acknowledge that this, more than many of the other articles I typically read on the subject, made me think about what work in the future might look like.

Author: "Lance Haun" Tags: "HR"
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Date: Tuesday, 24 Sep 2013 14:45

41nqCuMzvDLI’m on my fourth wedding ring (I’ve only been married once though). I’ve lost a lot of things really important to me (my favorite Portland Trail Blazers hat is in the back of seat pocket 17C on an American Airlines flight, if you ever find it), but the ring thing is always most embarrassing.

Personally, I’ve loved the feel of tungsten carbide rings since my buddy Sam got one when he married. So I got one too, from a traditional jewelry store. I lost that one a very short time later in the Columbia River just north of where I live now. I went to Zales to get a second one only to have it crack. Of course, I went back to them only for them to tell me I should’ve bought a protection plan (for a year old ring that was nearly as hard as a diamond?). Clearly, it was defective but they wouldn’t take it back.

Given that I had spent a few hundred dollars on rings and because my head was hot due to me not getting my cracked ring replaced, I searched for tungsten carbide rings online. And I found out my favorite retailer has them and they are a fraction of what I paid in the past. So after I lost some weight to the point where my ring no longer fit, I didn’t hesitate to go back to Amazon again for ring number four.

I honestly should’ve known better, too. I bought my wife’s engagement ring online in 2004, sight unseen. Why? Because the price was unbeatable, seller’s reputation was impeccable, and the return and resizing policy were awesome. Didn’t need any of that by the way because I nailed the purchase and size.

The reason I bring this up is because transparent pricing and availability is one of the last big disrupters in the enterprise software space. While businesses don’t necessarily shop like consumers (and that’s not necessarily a bad thing), the way that people are evaluating enterprise software is beginning to shift. I’ve heard of well-networked HR pros pulling RFP’s from other HR pros for the vendors they are shopping.

People always want to challenge me on this, too. People always negotiate big purchases! Really? Because the Costco Auto Program doesn’t exist. Because sites like Zillow don’t exist. Oh, and I guess Salesforce doesn’t just do this, right on their stupid website?

I’m not saying somebody is going to pull out their Amex Black Card and put their ATS purchase on it through a web portal (though, they could and they might in the future), but I am telling you that the RFP process is garbage and that someone is going to come in some day with all of your pricing in the region and demand the least lucrative deal on the planet.

And you’ll probably say yes, if only because you want to crack into the mind of an HR pro that comes to the table that prepared.

Laurie Ruettimann had a good post about this and the whole thing is worth a read. Here’s the pertinent quote:

But there is a new generation of human capital and HR professionals who have graduated from top-tier labor programs, have a strong relationship with their colleagues in finance and procurement, and will start evaluating human resources technologies differently. And there are new sales and marketing professionals who have stopped condescending to their clients and now assume that human resources professionals are “educated buyers” with a greater understanding of how technology works.

Someone in your segment will dictate the cost of transparency and availability. If you’re not enabling your buyers to make better purchasing decisions, someone else is. Either that or information availability for buyers about the market is already well beyond your expectations.

Personally, I’m just glad I don’t have a wife who knocks me every time I lose, break, or grow out of a ring.

Author: "Lance Haun" Tags: "Technology"
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Date: Thursday, 19 Sep 2013 13:30

I’ve always been a pretty open book online. Toward the end of May though, something happened that changed that whole perspective. I wasn’t ready to share what happened and I honestly don’t know if I ever will be. But it consumed my mind for months and every time I sat down to write something other than client work, that’s where I got stuck.

Look, I’ve been writing for awhile. Writer’s block has a fairly formulaic way of being overcome. This was different. But weeks turned into months and I never got out of it and I didn’t feel motivated to push it. Outside of posts that I felt were important to get out, not much else happened.

So, what could I do? Well, here’s what I did:

  • I’ve lost about 15 more pounds since many of you saw me at SHRM
  • I moved twice, once in Seattle and now, I’m in Richland, Washington
  • My wife got a promotion, and is still awesome
  • We climbed to the top of Mt. St. Helens with my family
  • Enjoyed one of the most glorious summers in Seattle with lots of time spent with friends and family
  • Did awesome work at The Starr Conspiracy

As soon as I let go the anxiety I had about not writing anything in this blog for weeks at a time, I finally got over the hump. It feels good to be back on the blog and looking forward to sharing more serious takes down the line.

Author: "Lance Haun" Tags: "General"
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Date: Monday, 12 Aug 2013 13:08

HRT Letterhead

For the last few years, one occasion has marked every summer: an email from HR Technology Conference co-chair Bill Kutik asking me, almost too politely, to post something about the show and to give you a discount code. So if you came here for the $500 off discount code, go ahead and use REHAUL13 (all caps) when you register. I don’t get anything for it, unfortunately.

Now why should you attend the conference this year?

Well, if you have never been and you’re interested in HR technology, this is a conference you have to experience at least once. It’s a show, in every sense of the word, for those affected by HR technology.

That’s not to mention that Las Vegas should be the permanent location of the show and you can’t legitimately reason with me on this point. The fact that you don’t have to go to Chicago and pay a pretty penny a night for a hotel strangely isolated from one of America’s largest cities is the big selling point. If you want to stay at the conference hotel, great. But if you don’t, there are plenty of other great options close-by plus great nighttime entertainment of all stripes.

What I continue to enjoy about the conference are the collection of people I end up seeing again or meeting for the first time at this conference. That, along with the content at the conference, has noticeably improved every year for the last four.

If you have already gone, especially to these last few, you probably know what to expect and whether you’ll be coming. If so, I hope to see you there.

I would also be mistaken if I didn’t mention that this is Bill Kutik’s last run as co-chair of the conference and the first for Steve Boese, who will continue to take the conference to great heights.

Lastly, if that wasn’t enough, come a little early for HRevolution and get an up close, personal view of some of the movers and shakers in the space outside of the stuffy confines of the big show.

I can’t wait for Vegas and I hope to see many of you there. If you’ll be there, make sure to send me a note so we can high-five.

Author: "Lance Haun" Tags: "HR, Technology"
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Date: Thursday, 01 Aug 2013 13:05

People ask me what’s the biggest change from being an editor at a trade publication to being an editor at a marketing firm. Topically, there aren’t many differences. When you’re writing for content marketing, you want readers to take notice. And HR people want information about the issues they are facing in their jobs. Stuff that will help them today, and yes, hopefully get them thinking about buying your wares.

Of course, how I deliver those words are anything but the same.

At ERE, we delivered information a couple of different ways. Primarily though, that would be through a blog post of some sort or maybe doing a podcast or video. For bigger pieces of information, we would deliver that in a conference session or a webinar.

At The Starr Conspiracy, we do a greater variety of pieces. Some of them you get to see, like when we get to work on white papers and webinars for the firm. Most of the time though, you won’t know it’s by us. I know, weak.

The biggest change though isn’t the types of pieces I’m writing but the terminology that I’m now using. I’ve been illuminated to the differences between a solution versus a platform, a suite versus software, and when to use the word technology (hint: every time). There’s an HR technology élite that care about these terms deeply (along with other terms like SaaS, cloud, architecture, and big data).

I’m not saying it doesn’t matter. It clearly does, at least to some folks. I’m a stickler for words.

I’m also not so sure most buyers care as much about these terms, though. For example, if I call an applicant tracking system a platform, would a customer just assume that other technology providers could build on that platform or, at the very least, have a well-documented API that has applications built for it? Does it matter to the end buyer or are we just talking features, benefits, and typical “What’s in it for me?” type of questions?

I know the price tag here matters as well. After all, if a vendor you’re spending $5M with can’t manage to describe themselves consistently, you might be a little worried about what’s underneath the hood. If it’s a $5k beta test though? I’m thinking you get a little wiggle room.

Despite all that, I think I manage to keep the words uncrossed enough to make sense. The good thing is that in my heaviest writing assignments, I’m not usually worrying about software, solution, platform, technology or suite terminology. I’m trying to think of HR issues, especially recent ones, that we can help people with.

As you can probably tell, that’s probably a good thing too.

Author: "Lance Haun" Tags: "Technology"
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Date: Thursday, 11 Jul 2013 13:46

logo“Some of my closest friends are technical recruiters.”

That was my response to someone who asked me why I showed up at Talent 42. And for a guy who doesn’t do conferences, who doesn’t report news, and who doesn’t interface with practitioners on a day to day basis, I can see why my attendance was perhaps a bit odd.

In reality, there was much more to why I showed up:

  1. It was in Seattle
  2. It was put on by two of my favorite people in Seattle
  3. A bunch of people I like were attending and speaking
  4. There was valuable content, even for a guy like me out of the trenches
  5. I’m always interested in trends

That last one really struck me about Talent 42. The idea of these focused, niche events is what I was interested in being a part of. Would it continue the tradition of last year’s great event? Would it fizzle, either by doing stuff that was already done or trying to expand beyond its original scope? Luckily, it did not disappoint.

And really, when you compare it to the last show I went to (SHRM), the difference is night and day. The sessions were smaller but the content was picked through with a fine-toothed comb. It was clear that when they picked content, they asked themselves one question: would this help technical recruiters bring more people into their organizations?

If the answer was no, it didn’t make the cut. That’s an important distinction.

At larger shows like SHRM, you can have anything. Anything. Like Dave Ramsey giving a clearly stock speech to a room of HR practitioners. I’m sure he is a good guy but he didn’t belong at any HR conference. But somebody made the argument for him to be there and since the subject matter was so broad, you could include him and most people wouldn’t blink an eye.

Talent 42 is miles different. It’s full of real advice from people who have done the work. Building in-house coding academy? Dude, I think I could figure this out myself now. Mark Tortorici teaching about the technology these guys and gals are recruiting for and Marc Hutto on how to do telephone research for people who don’t answer their phones.

I wish I could have made it to the second day because I heard the roundtable discussions were really a hit (alas, I was moving). I also missed Glen Cathey completely which made me a sad panda.

This is also why I’m looking forward to this fall’s SourceCon (in Seattle as well). Again, a niche conference that you can ask yourself a simple question when programming the agenda: does this help source new people into organizations?

If you are a technical recruiter who missed out on Talent 42, I’m sorry because you’re going to have to wait another year for the next one. If you want a conference that you’ll get some actionable items to take back to your office tomorrow, Talent 42 is the best one for those who recruit technical talent. If you want to network with a bunch of HR practitioners who have no idea what you even do and pick up some swag, well, I have a few conferences to recommend. Just don’t miss this one because I will see you there next year!

Author: "Lance Haun" Tags: "HR"
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Date: Tuesday, 25 Jun 2013 12:53

I just got back from SHRM’s annual conference.

That’s what I wrote a week ago on my flight home before turning off my computer and getting some much needed rest. Thanks to a pending move (yeah, again) and some backlogged work, I’m just now getting back to thinking about the conference.

I spent very little time in sessions (only hitting a few), I spent a little more time in the social media lounge and press room (mainly to catch meetings), and I spent most of my time on the expo floor hall. I’ve been to SHRM annual as a practitioner, a speaker, and a member of the working press, but never someone deeply interested in the marketing side of the industry.

I’ll spare you the whole marketing fails that happen at every conference I’ve been to ever other than to say that this is the lowest hanging fruit in the whole world. If you can find the people in your organization who can work a booth and get a half-decent location in the hall, you’ll win.

Between swag grabs, ultra-aggressive dudes that scan your badge, and running into people who are stopped looking down at their phone, there was actually a lot of interesting things going on.

I know us bloggers like to get cynical about things like trade shows. Believe me, being to one like SHRM encapsulates and magnifies all of the bad shit that everyone in this industry complains about. And by everyone, I mean everyone: practitioners, vendors, organizers, and press alike.

But I had more than a dozen meaningful conversations with people I probably never would’ve met if not for SHRM. When you wear The Starr Conspiracy shirt, HR ladies (and some dudes) will approach you out of nowhere and ask you about it. Once I told them about what we do and my background, I ended up directing more than my fair share of people looking for particular solutions. I stuck around and listened to pitches by sales reps who were 60 days into their stint at a vendor. I wandered and criss-crossed the expo floor looking for something that stuck out.

Other than a few clever booth constructions, nothing really did though. That’s a view of a guy who has been to a lot of shows though and pays ultra-close attention to the leading edge of HCM. Take it with a mountain of salt.

What stuck out to me about this SHRM is that I made it my own. I set out with particular goals (to meet certain people, to meet new people I didn’t know, to talk to vendors I’d never spoken to, and to learn more about buyers and the people who influence them). I had a great time. And I told my colleague Emily that I want her to come with me next year. Not just because she’d be fun to go with but also because it would be great to experience SHRM through someone else’s fresher eyes. I got a taste of that with some new friends I met wandering the halls and that’s what I’ll take back with me.

Author: "Lance Haun" Tags: "HR"
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