#Hamilton files: Good HR Recruiters should hire a Theatre Major


“Great theatre is about challenging how we think and encouraging us to fantasize about a world we aspire to.”  — Willem Dafoe

Sounds like how high-performance teams must work now.  Let me tell you why.

I finally saw Hamilton in Chicago.  OMG.  My theatre nerd came out of me in all directions.

I got tickets as a Christmas present, so have been anticipating the greatness that is Hamilton for 8 months.  It was worth the wait.  I’ve had  the soundtrack for months, I know the lyrics and obviously knows how it ends.  With that in mind, I felt certain there wouldn’t be tears as I watched.  Wrong — at the end I was holding back a semi-ugly cry and at one point I started welling up because the production quality was just so good.

As I watched, I thought, if these guys didn’t make it in Theatre, what would their profession be?  I for one would hire them.  Why?  Let me tell you why… most were theatre majors, or in the very least learned professionalism through working in the theatre.

We often hear managers make leadership and teamwork references to sports.  My God! Enough already.  Expand your horizons and think differently.  Frankly, the same analogies can be made for those in Theatre.  Traits for those lucky enough to be in Theatre include:

Commitment: Theatre folks of all disciplines, from actor to director to lighting technician have to dedicate large amounts of time to rehearsing, auditioning, and keeping relevant.  If they flake, a show could be jeopardized.  I mean, there is no “not showing up” or “I’m feeling sick today”, or “my throat hurts”… you show up or someone will take your place.

A quest to be the best:  Theatre professionals have no choice.  The market is too full, competition is fierce and yes, there is no-cap on personal ambition.  No one can tolerate a bad production.  Or a patronizing clap.  Anathema.  Hubris.

Ability to take rejection:  A part of the quest to be great in the theatre means getting OK with rejection.  A lot of it.  This translates well in the professional world as well.  I mean, have you worked in the corporate world?  Jesus, enough said.

Teamwork:  Putting on a class-A production requires many separate teams to collaborate daily, through the entire rehearsal process and production.  This can be 3 months to many years. If the costumes don’t match the vision of the director, if the lights don’t actually follow the actors or enhance the mood of the play, if the sound technician forgets his cues and mics the wrong actor, if the guy who pulls the curtain up and down at the right time jacks it up, if actors forget anything, especially when not to stand in front of pyrotechnics, not only is it dangerous, but the production is screwed.

Ability to have each other’s back:  If a light cue does go wrong or an actor forgets their lines, the show must go on.  Other members must seamlessly “have their back”  and just like sports teams, all must trust the others have their back.

Ability to give away the spotlight to others:  Scenes only work when performers know when it is time to “give” the scene to their partner.  This means, it is appropriate for the actor to step back, focus attention on the other, and listen.  Sounds like a high-performance team, right?


Have passion and purpose:  Folks in the theatre have passion for what they do.  If they did not, theatre would not be worth it.  The life is too hard.  Also, sorry, without passion an actor just isn’t an actor (or a good actor). And passion and purpose are big motivators to the modern workforce.  Win.

What does an actor in the workplace need from leaders: 

  • Continuous feedback
  • Praise when deserved 
  • To be heard

So, if you are one who love to hire athletes, you should flip your script and hire those in the fine arts.  Not only will you have folks that work well in high-performance teams, but you also may have someone who can entertain you daily, which in today’s workforce certainly can’t hurt.


My Toughest Leave of Absence Situations, A Lesson In Action

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My following piece, originally posted on ALEX by JellyVision, is part two in a three part series titled:  My Toughest Leave Of Absence Situations.

DB –

I’m so glad to be writing my second post for ALEX’s “My Toughest Leave Of Absence Situations” series. As I stated in part one of the series (My Toughest Leave Of Absence Situations: A Lesson In Generosity), there are some exceptional benefits-related experiences we aren’t quite prepared for. However, these situations usually teach us the biggest lessons about patience, empathy and grace.

Here is another one of my toughest LoA situations and the lessons I learned from it.

A Lesson In Action

During a particularly busy day, an employee dropped by and told me he needed to talk with me right away. I asked if it was possible to meet later in the afternoon, but the pause in his response gave me the clue he needed help now. After I found a private room he let me know his child had tried to commit suicide the day before. Naturally this statement sucked the air out of the room…

Hey Gang:  Read the rest of my post (and lots of other great stuff) at MEET Alex by Jellyvision

TWITTERCHAT:! Join me as host of SHRM #Nextchat: The Secret Recipe for Great Hiring

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Please join me Wend, August 30th, 3pm ET as I host SHRM’s popular #Nextchat.  #Nextchat is a twitterchat where HR pros are given the opportunity to share thoughts, ideas, and best practices with each other on various HR topics.  It’s one of the best “micro-learning” opportunities out there.

If you’ve never participated in a twitterchat – click here for basic instructions.

Wednesday’s Topic:  The hiring manager vs. recruiter relationship.  What are best practices?  Should HR “let go” of the process and allow hiring managers more control? Should recruiters change from interviewers to recruitment trainers?

To see the questions we will tackle, just scroll to the bottom of this page. Also, to read more about our topic, check out the blog post written by SHRM’s own, Mary Kaylor, featuring some of my thoughts on the topic.

Looking forward to seeing you all at the #nextchat!


We want to hear your ideas!  The question we will discuss are:

Q1. Should recruiters let hiring managers run the show? Why or why not?

Q2. What are some of the most common problems between hiring managers and recruiters?

Q3. What are some of the most common misconceptions about hiring managers and recruiters?

Q4. What are the most important questions that recruiters should ask hiring managers at the onset of a search? What information is critical to the success of the search?

Q5. Hiring managers: What do you want your recruiters to know when it comes to helping you find candidates?

Q6. “Teach a man to fish” … What can recruiters teach hiring managers about the recruiting process?

Q7. Hiring managers are often time-strapped. What can recruiters do to help mitigate time issues?

Q8. How is technology changing the relationship between the hiring manager and the recruiter—for better or worse?

Q9. If hiring is a partnership, should recruiters and hiring managers be incentivized together? Why or why not? (Let us know if you’ve tried this in your organization and how it works.)









ERE Conference! Recruiting! Minneapolis! And Your Chance To Save $300!

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Wouldn’t you rather spend $300 dollars on ice cream than a conference.  If so, read ahead!

My friends — If you are a recruiter, HR Pro, or leader interested in learning from the best, don’t miss the always inventive, always exciting ERE Fall Conference, in Minneapolis, MN.  ERE always delivers.  Experts in the recruiting space, the folks at ERE are the real deal.  They’ve been putting on conferences for years so they know what they are doing.

I have the pleasure of speaking this year — so that is a double reason for you to attend! Oh, and leaders from Facebook, Hubspot, and West Elm will be sharing their expertise as well.

And Minneapolis is quite the city.  And good news — won’t be covered in snow yet.  All kidding aside, I’ve lived in Minneapolis and it delivers.  So, a great conference, great speakers, great city and…

If you register today — you save $300 smackers on registration.  You can now buy that fidget spinner you’ve always wanted.







VIDEO: #HR On The Run > 3 Reasons To Change Your Brand.

On this episode of HR On The Run I talk about HR Branding — more importantly — what are some reasons you or your team may need a brand refresh.  My inspiration? The new rebrand of Coke Zero to Coke Zero Sugar. (What?!)

Watch to hear 3 reasons why companies rebrand, how this relates to understanding your HR brand, and my lifelong relationship with dietetic drinks!

I Was In Charlottesville, Here’s What Locals Want Me To Share.


By the biggest of coincidences I was in Charlottesville the weekend of the recent protests. My husband, who rarely has to travel outside of AL for work, had to take a deposition in a small Pennsylvania town not far from Charlottesville.  Since we’ve both wanted to visit Monticello (the home of Thomas Jefferson), the University of VA, and wine country, all located in Charlottesville, we decided to make it a weekend trip.  We’d never been before — it would be fun.

We had no idea, until during an ATL layover to Charlottesville, there was to be a Unite The Right rally.  Wait–What? And that I should be careful.  Holy crap.

What were the odds?

When we arrived in Charlottesville, for a nano-second Bo and I thought about going to the anti-protest.  But we quickly decided nothing good could possibly come out of rally where tiki torches were required for the side we wouldn’t be supporting.  Also, the fact that we were two white people from Alabama who just happened to be in Charlottesville for the very first time…we thought the optics may not be so good (sorry AL, I don’t make the rules). We decided to scrap any events we planned to do downtown, stay away from campus for a while, and stick to our weekend of wine, mountains, and American History emersion at Monticello.

In addition, some more context. You see, I’m born yankee. However, in addition to living in Ohio, Minnesota and Illinois, have lived the majority of my life in southern towns (North Carolina, Mississippi, Tennessee, Alabama).  My husband has lived in the south his entire life.  Robert E. Lee rhetoric is nothing new.  Typically, protests are small gatherings of mainly pissy, older white men with nothing better to do.  Although I completely disagree with the sentiments shared at these these protests, and have always been baffled why there were so many statues of the General committed to spitting our union, and confused why there where tributes to the guy on the losing side, and couldn’t believe that these weren’t in museums yet, and couldn’t imagine being non-white and seeing these “revered monuments” all over an American city I paid taxes in…the protests were typically non-violent, discussed over the water cooler the next day, and forgotten.  For better or worse.

Bo and I hoped the event in Charlottesville would just be more of the same.  We were wrong.

It wasn’t until late Saturday afternoon that reports infiltrated our tourist cocoon.  When Bo’s mom called his cell, that was our clue something had happened for she is the bell-weather of any events that may effect us.  While Bo’s mom was telling us from Alabama what was happening 6 miles from us, others at the winery were getting calls too.  Mostly family members telling the latest news that someone was killed at the protest.  Jesus.

We felt like shits saying, with a glass of wine in hand, that we were OK.

So here is what I need to share with people about the experience.  Almost every person we encountered from Charlottesville was desperate to ensure us this is not Charlottesville.  Riots are not Charlottesville.  Violence is not Charlottesville.  The locals we encountered we horrified their city was in the middle of something outside of their control.

So that is what I am going to share.  I am going to share the message the locals we talked to wanted all to understand. I’m also going to thank people who kept me and my husband safe and informed, and for the record they were all different races.

  • To our African-American waiter at IHOP (really the nicest guy you’d hope to meet), who made us smile in spite of insanity around us, we thank you.
  • To the Middle-Eastern staff at The Afghan Kabob,  who served us late since most other restaurants were closed, we thank you.
  • To the Caucasian worker at the Jefferson winery who gave us updates on what was happening in town, we thank you.
  • To locals at the winery and Monticello giving us updates, we thank you.
  • To the Caucasian and Hispanic UVA guards at the hotel who stayed up all night, made our stay safe, and ensured we were OK, we thank you.  And yes, their were guards.  We were staying at a UVA hotel not too far from the Jefferson Statue; aka Tiki Torch Central.

And finally to the shops throughout the city, who displayed these signs the day of the rally, we thank you.


I’m not naive enough to think any town, no matter who you talk to on a vacation, is immune from bigotry, ignorance, and racism.  But for the two days we were there, two pretty remarkable days, we saw some of the best in Charlottesville during a time when the worst was rearing it’s head.

Charlottesville, you’ll be alright.





Want Affordable, Effective Workers Fast: Hire “Brandless” Employees.

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Companies and agencies are continuously trying to find the “holy grail” of talent:  New hires who can do the job well and come at an affordable salary. As an HR pro, I don’t know how many times I’ve been told by hiring managers to find the best talent for the cheapest price possible.  Unfortunately, there have been a few problems with this equation, namely:

  • Managers aren’t sure what “doing the job well” is.
  • Managers believe candidates are worth less than they are told.
  • Candidates believe they are worth more than they really are.
  • Candidates who do know what they are worth try to negotiate for much higher.
  • There are too many candidates to choose from, primarily due to electronic means of advertising jobs and applying for jobs.

The outcome can be a lengthy, expensive recruiting process due to too many interviews, too many decision makers, and salary ranges that are based on a negotiation game.

The Potential Solve:  Go “Brandless”.

Hey Gang:  Read the rest of my post (and lots of other great stuff) at Fistful Of Talent