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    Entries in travel (25)


    Notes from the road #20 - Spring event roundup edition

    A big part of how I spend my Spring each year is making the rounds of as many HR technology solution provider events (customer conferences and.or analyst meetings), as I can, all while planning for and developing the program for the 19th Annual HR Technology Conference and Expo to be held October 4 - 7, 2016 in Chicago, IL.

    These customer events are a great way for me to stay in touch with the industry - the technology trends, the challenges that customers are talking about and seeking solutions for, and the big workplace issues that are top of mind. Additionally, these events help me to take the pulse and temperature of the market - information I need as I work on HR Tech.  

    Since the Spring event season is just about over, (I think I have one more to attend, the always interesting HireVue event in a couple of weeks), I wanted to share at least a small part of what I saw, heard, and learned at a few of these events from early 2016. Hopefully, there is something in what I saw that might help you as you think about your HR technology plans for the remainder of the year.

    Greenhouse - This was the most recent event I have attended, so it is very fresh in my mind. Greenhouse is a newer provider of recruitment technology solutions primarily serving the SMB market, (don’t call it an ATS), that has grown rapidly in the last few years, primarily in the Bay Area technology ecosystem. Greenhouse takes a fresh approach to HR tech, at least a different one I think, in that they really think about solving the challenge of recruiting for organizations who wish to become “great” at recruiting first, rather than simply chasing down specific features and functions. It is an approach that is hard to describe in a few words, but if you want to learn more about Greenhouse and what they are about, check an interview I was able to do with CEO Dan Chait on the HR Happy Hour podcast here.

    Globoforce - The recent Globoforce customer conference, called WorkHuman, stands out from the group in that it is a very different kind of user event in that it does not (primarily) focus on the the actual products that Globoforce develops. Rather, WorkHuman focuses on making work and workplaces “better’, and showcases content and activities designed to help HR leaders better engage their workforces and that ultimately will elevate the nature of work. The solution set that Globoforce provides is positioned more as a complementary collection of tools that HR and organizational leaders can leverage in their efforts to simply make work “better” and more human. For more on this event, and how working more “human” translates to organizations, see this excellent piece from Trish McFarlane on the HR Ringleader blog.

    Oracle - Oracle’s HCM World event has rapidly grown to become one of the largest HR technology user events of its type. The most recent HCM World held in early April, was a reflection of the growth of Oracle’s HCM Cloud solutions, and the success they are having in the market. There was tons to see and hear at the event, but if I could pick out just one thing that stood out for me was the continued development and refreshing approach Oracle is taking with its new Learning technology in the cloud. The new learning tools are meant to be mobile-first, collaborative, personalized, and video heavy - a key to me as the trends in video consumption are only on the increase across all kinds of platforms. It is  great example of how an enterprise technology provider is adapting to trends in the consumer space to develop and deliver technologies with which users will want to engage. For more on what Oracle is working in HCM, listen to this recent HR Happy Hour podcast featuring Oracle’s Bertrand Dussert.

    Ultimate - Just like the other events listed above, Ultimate Software’s annual user conference is a reflection of the company itself - its culture, values, and philosophy. Ultimate's tagline has been “People First” for some time, but unlike most empty corporate slogans, Ultimate really does believe in putting its employees, customers, and community “first”. They are committed to their own employees and their family’s welfare and well-being, as evidenced by the generous and progressive approaches they take to engagement and development. But from a product capability standpoint, probably the most interesting area in which Ultimate is innovating is in the field of predictive analytics. These are modern approaches to give insight to leaders to be able to anticipate voluntary (and often undesirable) turnover, and to predict the likelihood of a candidate succeeding in a new role. But Ultimate is moving beyond just “predicting” events, it is trying to provide more meaningful and actionable recommendations and interventions to help leaders and managers better deal with these events. You can learn more about this approach on this by checking out another recent HR Happy Hour podcast with Cecile Alper-Leroux from Ultimate.

    That’s a quick look at four of the events I was able to attend in the last few months. And while each one was different of course, when I think back upon them, and the others that I was not able to list here, I am reminded that the challenges and opportunities facing HR leaders and their organizations remain pretty common and consistent. Finding the best talent, engaging the workforce, developing and retaining the best people, while all the time ensuring compliance and accuracy in all HR administrative processes. Thankfully, modern and innovative technologies like the ones being developed by the five providers above continue to rise to these challenges, and are able to help HR leaders reach their goals. And of course, you can see these providers, and hundreds more, at the upcoming HR Technology Conference in October.


    RECRUITING OPPORTUNITY: The Hotel Gym at 6AM on a Wednesday

    Quick take from the road on a busy Wednesday, (note to self, this should have been a 'Notes from the road' post, but I digress). 

    Tried to do the 'stay relatively healthy' bit early this morning by hitting up the Hilton gym at about 6AM or so today and walked into probably the most packed facility I think I have seen in weeks on the road. There were easily 40 or so folks already grinding out a run on the treadmill or faking their way through some pull downs on the lat machine.

    In fact, the place was so crowded, I noticed six or seven folks enter, look around, and then leave since pretty much every available piece of cardio equipment, (and most of the weight machines), were being used. This was at 6:19AM on a Wednesday.

    Now this may not seem all that remarkable, the hotel is pretty large and there are three or four different events and conferences going on here this week, so packing 50 people into a gym may not be as big a deal as I am making it out to be.

    But if you subscribe to the notion, as many folks do, that industry meeting and conferences like the ones going on at this hotel this week are great places for networking and recruiting then it stands to reason that at least some of the 'right' kind of folks you might be looking for can be found in the gym at 6 in the morning.

    The 6AM gym folks are (at least trying) to go the extra mile (pun intended), to keep their s%#% together while on the road - which isn't easy at these kinds of events where the overwhelming tendency is for folks to spend hours and hours sitting in hotel meeting rooms, hitting buffets for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and hitting up the endless open bar each night.

    There are almost certainly recruitable and desirable candidates at every event.

    It could be the most recruitable ones are on the treadmill at 6AM. 

    Are you going to be there to meet them?


    National restaurant chains, ranked

    For a long weekend where you are perhaps considering dining out at some point, I humbly submit to you this subjective, unscientific, unresearched and 100% accurate breakdown and rankings of the important national restaurant chains.

    Note: these chains fit into the category of 'Casual Dining', that staple of medium-sized towns and access roads just off the Interstate everywhere. But the point is that places like Starbucks, Chick-fil-A, and Chipotle (New ad pitch: 'Now with LESS Ecoli!!!!'), are not in the running.

    Here goes:

    10. Outback Steakhouse - Fun fact: I once ate in an Outback Steakhouse each week on Monday night for six months while on a project in Hickory, North Carolina.

    Signature item: Bloomin' Onion

    9. Chili's - Ate there last night. Am totally not kidding. 

    Signature item: Baby Back Ribs

    8. Red Robin - Seem to have recently undertaken some kind of re-branding. 

    Signature item: Royal Red Robin

    7. Olive Garden - This is terrible food, more or less, but the one near where I live is ALWAYS packed, so that has to count for something.

    Signature item: None really. But usually they will keep bringing you food until you explode.

    6. Red Lobster - 83% of the shrimp consumed in the USA are eaten in Red Lobsters. Actually, I have no idea if that is true. But it seems like it could be true, if you know what I mean.

    Signature item: Cheddar Bay biscuits

    5. T.G.I. Friday's - Am kind of surprised these are still around. I guess someone had to survive the epic battle between Friday's, Bennigan's, and Houlihan's in the 90s.

    Signature item: Pretty much anything from the appetizer menu. You are proably a little drunk already and are not that picky about the food.

    4. Carabba's Italian Grill - My son's favorite on this list. Also had a 90-minute wait to get in at 5:45PM on a recent weekend night. That's nuts.

    Signature item: Have some pasta. Or some chicken. Heck, have both.

    3. Applebees - Feelin' good in the neighborhood. Perhaps too good. 

    Signature item:Two or three shady as hell local drunks that are at the end of the bar at 11:35PM on Thursday night.

    2. Buffalo Wild Wings - I used to stop in the BWW on the way home from my old teaching gig. Nothing more sad than going to a bar by yourself at 10PM on a Tuesday. Good wings though.

    Signature item: Wings, you dummy.

    1. The Cheesecake Factory - The choice of big time ballers everywhere, especially in Las Vegas. Go at midnight, sit at the bar. Order draft beer and dessert. You won't regret it.

    Signature item: Original cheesecake. Don't mess with a classic. 

    You can comment if you like, but if you disagree with me, of course you would be wrong.

    Have a great weekend!


    Notes from the road #19 - Red eye diaries edition

    Submitted, or at least started to try and submit, from the new and improved Delta Sky Club in SFO while awaiting a redeye flight from SFO - JFK.  

    Here are, for your consideration, a series of slightly disjointed and possible incoherent observations of the red eye flight and the kinds of travelers that find themselves on an 11:45PM - 6:32 AM trip across this great land.

    1. Taking a red eye flight is 100% a terrible, horrible, no good, stupid idea. Whatever rationalizations you have worked through that led you to this grim place will all prove to be entirely empty. You will not 'get a lot done the next day' because you will be too tired. You will not score any points with the people back at the office, because they don't give a hoot about you. And you will only tick off your family that you were rushing home to see due to the fact that by about 7:15PM the next night you will be asleep in your Barcalounger.  The red eye flight is an abomination. And yes I am about to board one within the hour.

    2. No one, I mean no one on the red eye wants to be there, including the pilots and crew. It is the air travel equivalent of a visit to the DMV at 12:15PM on a Monday. Everyone is angry, tired, hates everyone else for the same reasons they hate themselves for choosing the red eye, and will kill you dead if you so much as make eye contact. It is air travel, which is usually pretty horrific, at its absolute bottom. Thank my lucky stars at least I am in the nice Delta Sky Club and not out in the terminal right about now.

    3. You are not going to sleep on the red eye, drop that fantasy right now. It is too crowded, hot, noisy, and altogether unpleasant for most people to get more than 39 minutes of decent sleep on a six hour flight. The one exception? The guy who drops like a rock in the aisle seat of your row, so out of it (and possibly snoring), that you can't get past him to get up and stretch your legs or get to the restroom. I guess you will have to hold it until New York. Awesome.

    4. The guy right next to you, inexplicably, will still be working at 11:30PM PT. He will be on the phone as you board. He will not stop texting even after 17 requests to turn off mobile devices. And the second the little chime goes off that indicates you have crossed 10,000 feet he will fire up that ThinkPad and get back online. And he will complain to high heaven if the in-flight Wifi gets a little wonky. He will order black coffee at 2AM. This person is a terrible person. I hope this person is not you.

    5. When you finally arrive the next morning you will make a solemn, sober, and serious vow: You will NEVER take another red eye flight again. But of course you know, deep down, that is an empty, empty threat. After a few weeks or months pass by you will be beguiled by the notion of getting home at 9AM instead of 'wasting' an entire day traveling and you will, on your own accord, book another red eye flight sometime soon. You know how I know this is true? I am on another red eye flight next week. We are all silly, silly, stupid people.

    Safe travels to anyone out there reading this in an airport, or worse yet, on a plane at 2AM.


    Notes from the Road #18 - Semi-coherent thoughts edition

    Writing this as I work my way back from China and Hong Kong, (and I promise this will be the last blog post about this trip, it has just dominated the last two weeks such that I pretty much have nothing else to write about). I am about 20 hours in to the trip back home, and in what is certainly not the most awesome news of the day, the last leg of the journey is looking to be about 3 hours late, which puts me home at something like 2 in the morning. That is if I even get home, these kinds of late night delays have a funny way of becoming cancellations. So I am pretty much punchy at this point, not completely sure of basic things like, 'Is it day or night?' and 'Where did I pack my souvenir Chairman Mao statue?'

    The trip was a really great experience though, despite the hassles of travel and the distances involved - there is something kind of cool and exhilarating (and sometimes a little dicey), when you are forced out of the comforts and familiarity of home or of the other places you have already seen a few dozen times. I love going to Las Vegas, but it is not exactly a mentally challenging trip if you get my meaning. Navigating Beijing traffic, even from the back seat of a cab, proved to be an exercise that demanded careful planning and attention. And a little bit of luck as well. The most common response from a Beijing cab driver when presented with a request to take us someplace was 'I don't know where that is', followed closely by 'No.' But with the help of the incredibly attentive staffs at a couple of Marriott hotels we were using for the trip, we managed to get everywhere we needed to - eventually.

    But overall, it was a fantastic learning experience, and one that I would recommend anyone should attempt at least once. Walking along (and up) the Great Wall of China was something I am sure I will never forget, and something I probably never thought I would ever do.

    Some other random updates as I am really fading in and out of coherent thought at the moment - I am still behind catching up on messages and emails from the trip. Having most of my productivity type apps unavailable in mainland China was kind of a drag. So if you are waiting to hear back from me on something, I should be caught up by Friday or so. That is assuming I can figure out what day that is.

    Also, really bummed that due to various travel obligations that this year The 8 Man Rotation crew were not able to attend the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas. We have, have, have to make sure we get back there in 2016.

    And last, look for some new HR Happy Hour Shows very soon, both Trish McFarlane and I have been on the road so much lately, but we plan on getting back in the podcast groove soon.

    Ok, that is it, I am out. (Hopefully getting out of Minneapolis soon).