Archive for the ‘Networking’ Category

It’s been a whirlwind since the highly successful Dallas Roadshow Last week. The RecruiterGuy offers a great recap.

Here are the materials:

– John Sumser’s Introduction and Presentation (Spiky and Flat)
– Jeff Kaye’s Presentation: Next Level Strategy for a Next Level Workplace
– Hank Stringer’s materials from Excellence in Search Relationships
– Dennis Smith’s delightful package Social Recruiting


Special Thanks to Matt Martone, the team at Yahoo and Ami Givertz

(January 14, 2008) A great strategic plan is animated, rational and showcases the manifestation of a vision. It is a wonderful story with archetypal plot elements. It is a triumph of logic and reason over chaos.

Reality is never like that.

Reality is paradoxical, inconsistent, occasionally flat. It is rarely logical or reasonable. When reality resembles a great story, all of the BS detectors go off like car alarms after a small earthquake.

Seeing the future changes it.

Here are some of the pieces of the paradoxes. Notice the inconsistencies.

  • There is a labor shortage.
  • World population doubled twice in the past 50 years.
  • Population is declining in the top 50 Industrialized countries.
  • The population of the US will grow by 20% over the next 30 years.
  • The nursing shortage is global.

Part of the trouble lies with the old fashioned need to generalize for global media markets. When you watch something like Crossfire or the Daily Show, you come away with the impression that National and Global trends are directly applicable to local conditions. It’s the same paradox as the “Strategic Plan / Reality” problem. Many things that can be generalized at a National or Global level fall apart in a local context.

Pundits have an easier time of it when they sound like a strategic plan. They are more successful if they can persuade you that reality is coherent. When their stories sizzle and swirl, their wallets fatten.

Change is definitely brewing. Today’s daily links on emphasize ideas that are slightly out of the American mainstream. They seem to be coming our way. In a highly collaborative world, the hierarchy just doesn’t make very much sense.

John Sumser. – © 2008 Two Color Hat, Inc. Santa Rosa, CA

(January 07, 2008) The commoditization of friendship is just the next step in the development of prime real estate on the word wide web. Do you remember when ‘community’ meant a place with buildings and people or at least a sense of belonging? Can you recall talent pipelines full of people not data?

Language has not kept pace with the changes that come from and through technology.  The relentless marketing machine dumbs down experience in order to standardize terminology. It’s how strip mining works in cyberspace.

You might trace it back to the Clintons. Remember “Friends of Bill”? That was the term of endearment for the world’s largest (at the time) political Rolodex. Friends of Bill paid small fortunes to attend  Renaissance Weekends. Being a friend, in theis context, was more important than actually knowing Mr. Clinton.

Recently, I asked a fellow who I’ve met a couple of times, swapped email with a couple of times and am generally aware of in the industry to be my friend on Facebook.

He said:

Hey John,are we “friends” ?i know we “know” of each other virtually … but i was actually going to try and limit my facebook to people I actually converse with 1:1
wanna start that ?

I replied

I went to bed wondering about the same thing last night. I really value words/concepts like friend, network and community. They are getting sliced really thin. Community means mailing list. Network means database. Friend means record.I don’t particularly like it.Have you noticed, though, that there’s an interesting new category? I think of it as people who are aware of each other and should be friends?

If we needed to talk to each other, we just would. No intermediaries or networking required.

That’s what I meant when I sent you the invite on Facebook. We’ve known of each other a long time and would most likely pick up the phone if the other called. The difference is as simple as I’m responding to your concern rather than going “okay” and hitting the enter button.

That may be too thinly sliced for your tastes.

If I’m beyond your cutline, that makes perfect sense to me.

However you decide, it might be interesting for us to have a deeper conversation about the implications and limits of friendship online in various settings.

Is one setting different from another in Profound ways? (Can you have 89 Million connections on Linked in and 3 friends on Facebook with a straight face? Why?

Do the differences in setting make a difference in Recruiting technique, reach or research results?

Like that.

Thanks for provoking my thinking another notch and good luck.

What do you think?

John Sumser. – © 2008 Two Color Hat, Inc. Santa Rosa, CA

(January 03, 2008) I have been experimenting.

In 1993, I was working as the Executive Director and Editor for the Point Foundation in Sausalito. Point was the non-profit founded by Stewart Brand that ‘owned’ the Well, the Whole Earth Catalog and the Whole Earth Review (a quarterly magazine). It was the job of my dreams

The offices were on the docks. It was a very unlikely place to be ground zero for anything. Imagine a big grimy garage full of smart, independent visionaries. Imagine a complete lack of funding. Imagine a place where the only fertilizer for a new idea was the idea itself.

One day, a fellow who worked for the Well walked into my office with his Mac Laptop in hand. “You’ve got to see this, John.” He had installed a copy of a software tool called XMosaic, fresh from the labs in Switzerland. It was one of the first copies of the original browser in the United States (like maybe there were two or three others).

He showed me a “home page”. If I remember correctly, it was by a guy in Japan. “John, we have to build a home page for the Point  Foundation,” he pleaded.

With all of the wisdom I could muster, I looked him dead in the eye and said, “Who would ever want one of those?”

The point of the story is that it’s possible to miss the future when you are staring right at it. After a couple of days of experimenting with Facebook, I am reasonably convinced that I made the same sort of mistake again. While Jobster was colonizing Face-space right under my nose, I was able to avoid giving the tool a fair try for nearly a year.

The good news here is that the mainstream recruiting industry and enterprise software vendors will take the usual five years to begin to adopt the new technology.

Facebook is other than I imagined. Everything I heard about sex was different than sex. Facebook is like that, too.

This morning, I received a gift from Chris Russell. Last night, I began working on prototypes for the Recruiting Roadshow logo. I like to have something in hand when I talk to the graphics people. I uploaded my experiments into an album. Chris saw what I was doing (we’re friends on Facebook) and had a few spare creative cycles. So he made and sent me an alternative version of the logo.

Facebook allows a kind of collaborative work that I haven’t seen anywhere before. More tomorrow.

John Sumser. – © 2008 Two Color Hat, Inc. Santa Rosa, CA

 Thank Yous

(January 02, 2008) I want to start the year by thanking people who helped with the last one. The risk in doing this publicly is that I have missed some critical moments and people (pleading age related memory loss). So, expect a small update tomorrow and accept my apologies today.

The people on this list made 2007 memorable and interesting. Often, they are writers of blogs. Sometimes, they are industry figures. Some are family, some are friends and some are fellows of the road. Theuy all helped, in their way, to shape the roadshow and my adventures.

Thank you.



(December 31, 2007) I am back from a wonderful week of holiday activities. After a long session in the recording studio with family and friends, we all went to see some lively Gospel music in a remote roadhouse on Christmas eve. The whole group was drenched with sweat from all that dancing by the end of the evening. Two days of listening to the ocean crash below my window in Gualala, CA (on the Mendocino Coast) was the perfect frosting on a holiday cake.

I guess it was all about ears, feet and happiness. Listening, dancing and loving. It was a delicious end to a year of good old fashioned hard work. It was the perfect sweet ending to the first phase of building a new foundation.

The year began with a change in office space, the second in as many years. interbiznet, the company I founded many years ago, stretched to hold me in place. It was growing one way and I was headed in another direction. After a dozen or so years, I wanted a refresher course in the fundamentals of recruiting and the recruiting industry. Ultimately, I sold the company and no longer write for interbiznet.

I owe a great deal to Jason Goldberg and miss his disruptive presence already. Jason hired me to be the editor of last May. You might recall that it was a turbulent and noisy transition. Jason never flinched. His way of managing my role was to remain completely hands-off. That allowed to evolve into a simpler traffic generator than it had been. These days, the site gets about 50% more traffic than it did last spring.

I am looking forward to getting to know his replacement, Jeff Seely.

When Jason Davis (my predecessor and the founder of left, the difference was palpable. Jason is a master of web community development and online political intrigue. He is now ramping up a tremendous thing at the website. We speak regularly and he remains the best online community developer in our industry.

Over the course of the year, I have found Michael Kelleman’s work on the website to be inspirational. Michael (or Animal as he prefers) is the coordinator and host of one of our industry’s two great entertainment nodes. I religiously scan his RSS feed (the stories on the right hand side of the page). Michael has the pulse and direction of the industry in his hairy palm. He has assembled a great team of content producers.

Jim Stroud is other source of infotainment in our space. (Don’t miss his late breaking interview with John Sumser.) Jim is an all around nice guy. That makes him the perfect complement to Michael’s on stage persona. With his newly redesigned site, Jim is poised for real growth in 2008.

Joel Cheesman, aka Cheezhead, hit his stride in 2007. With the exception of some weird hang-up with Jobster and Jason Goldberg, Joel (maybe it’s just too many Js), Cheesman continued to set new ground for the industry. Cheezhead xtra routinely delivers smart commentary from the industry’s talking heads. Joel is on his way to becoming a publishing powerhouse.

With absolutely no prodding, Shally Steckerl became a major promoter of the Recruiting Roadshow. He has been really generous with his time and help.

Speaking of the Recruiting Roadshow, the Las Vegas event will definitely be held on the 27th of February. More to come.

See you in 2008.

John Sumser. – © 2007 Two Color Hat, Inc. Santa Rosa, CA

(December 21, 2007) There are a lot of people to thank for this past year. Starting and building the momentum of the Recruiting Roadshow took a lot of effort from a lot of people. Shifting from my comfortable home at interbiznet took support and energy. Bearing up under the new scrutiny at took some patience and the muffling of two layers of duct tape.
A number of good friends fed me with a straws (through the tape) at the difficult times. It’s good to have and build friendship as a part of making a living. My work is colored by the people who nourish me with their stories about the recruiting world, their ideas about what it could be like and their hopes for bigger and better times.  
I’ve always been fortunate to have relationships with people who start companies. As an entrepreneur who thinks about strategy, it seems pretty normal to inhabit a world that mostly includes other leaders who build businesses for a living.
Over the years, I have seen a thousand good tricks for making things happen. This year, though, I may have been shown the ultimate trick. 
Steven Rothberg, you may know, is the hard working founder of Very, very few people in our industry work as hard or as persistently as Steven. Through sheer tenacity, he built CollegeRecruiter into the powerhouse it is today. Steven spoke at both the Dallas and Atlanta Recruiting Roadshows.
Somewhere along the line, Steven sent me a wonderful had written Thank You note. It was short, sweet and very thoughtful. I was astonished by the way it changed my perception.

As far as I can remember, it was the first time ever that I had received one. Writing thank you notes is part of the conventional wisdom about doing business. I assumed that it was theory from people with no experience until I got Steven’s note.

As you can see, I remember the note very clearly almost six months later.

Steven got me started. I’ve been following his lead and hand writing Thank You notes. What’s amazing is the effect it has on me.

Thank you, Steven.

John Sumser. – © 2007 Two Color Hat, Inc. Santa Rosa, CA

 (December 18, 2007) The Recruiting Roadshow dominated my attention during 2007. With highly successful events in Minneapolis, Atlanta and Dallas, there’s a ton of information to sift through as the model goes through a refining process. Here are the first half dozen of the emerging themes:

  • New Market: When asked, over 95% of Roadshow participants have never attended a national trade show like ERE, OnRec, Kennedy, IHRIM or HRTech. This is one of the most surprising findings. The regulars on the trade show circuit inhabit a closed universe. What’s actually happening in the trenches is other than you’d guess if you only follow the shows and the online stuff.
  • It’s Really Local: There are people working in the industry who are smarter, broader and more interesting than the standard crew of industry celebrities (myself included). They are working to solve Recruiting problems in their cities and towns and are only vaguely interested in national trends or generalizations. Local speakers generate much more enthusiasm and response than national speakers at local events.
  • Schwag is a Currency: One of my Recurring nightmares is that I am being chased by a Recruiter at a National Trade Show. She’s got a bag full of colorful giveaways (schwag). She wants me to stamp her bingo card so she can win the raffle. She wants my schwag but isn’t vaguely interested in learning more about me. People who have never been to a trade show value schwag differently. They think of it as a gift. It means more.
  • Local Leadership is Critical: Poor Paul DeBettignies. (His motto is “Blame no one. Expect nothing. Do something.”) The Roadshow he produced in Minneapolis (with lots of enthusiastic help) seems to be catching on. Independent of our efforts, the second Minneapolis event was executed flawlessly and very well received. This means more work for Paul. Building infrastructure is not a one shot deal. This will be an area of really big innovation in our 2008 schedule.
  • The Training Deficit is Killing Us: There simply is no broad based training available for the Recruiting Industry. There are, indeed, noble experiments and small institutions. The universe of working Recruiters (between 500,000 and 900,000) have extremely limited access to professional development. At the very minimum, 10% want more now. The Roadshow illuminates this need.
  • Cynicism is a Barrier to Entry: The timeshare sales mindset (fee vacation if you listen to an arm twisting pitch) sullies possibilities. Many participants were simply shocked to discover that there was no hard sell to be found. As word of mouth picks up, the reputation for a PBS style approach will gain traction quickly.

None of this means that trade shows are anything less than critical to the functioning of the industry. Sometimes, I have the feeling that I am holding a lit match in a massive cave. The question is how to reach a majority of the industry not whether one method is better than anothr. Roadshows and tradeshows are different things for different audiences.

John Sumser. – © 2007 Two Color Hat, Inc. Santa Rosa, CA

Roadshow 2008

(December 17, 2007) This week, we are finalizing the Recruiting Roadshow schedule for 2008. The one certain date is the 27th of February in Las Vegas. I’ll be filling you in on that one shortly.The current confirmed cities for 2008 are:

  • Boston
  • New York
  • Minneapolis
  • Dallas
  • Silicon Valley

That means we’ll be picking four or five from the following candidates:

  • Houston
  • Phoenix
  • Indianapolis
  • Seattle
  • Los Angeles
  • San Diego
  • Washington, DC
  • Atlanta
  • Ft Lauderdale
  • Chicago
  • St Louis
  • San Antonio
  • Denver

If you are interested in organizing, hosting, helping, underwriting, sponsoring, please let me know (john at