The Deal With the Hat

I give presentations on really complex topics, as a rule, and while I try to simplify it as much as possible, I fail to believe, as happened the other day at a user conference, that no one had a single question about inbound recruiting.

Not one. Normally, this is an hour, and it still feels rushed – I actually added slides (which I stole from, but credited to, the brilliant Bryan Chaney – dude’s good). 62 slides, 45 minutes, somehow still found 5 for Q&A.


Then, a tentative hand. “Can I get a copy of your slides?” Really? So you can consume them at your own leisure? I mean, hell, I don’t like making the thing, I can’t honestly believe that you care too much about the stupid deck I threw together at the last possible second.  But God bless you that you do – even if PowerPoints are the Good Lord’s punishment for having invented the work computer.

But no questions is OK. We all get to go to lunch that much earlier, and you get the hour of credit towards your SPHR, which, let’s face it, was obsolete long before SHRM decided to compete with them head on.  By the way, and on the record, my opinion on that, since I keep getting asked (I run in weird circles) is simple: I give zero shits. But that’s because, like everything else in the world, I look at stuff from a very specific vantage point:

“What’s in it for me?”

That is the central question that rules our lives, really. Get through the crap and cut to my consumable, clichéd take aways. Don’t you just love that keynote speaker who you saw in some NBC Movie of the Week back in 1984 talk about how he beat VD and became an advocate for homeless veterans?

DISCLAIMER: Not real. Unlike the close up magician who talks about reading body language or the Bob Ross rip off whose pretty little clouds have something to do with leadership, even if it’s kind of a stretch in terms of metaphors. Look, pretty!

What’s In It For Me?

This is the lens by which we consume all information – thought leadership requires followers, even if they’re mostly lemmings. I’m not talking about you, I swear to God. But that other bitch in your department, girl – we got issues.

That’s why the other kind of question I get will inevitably be something really specific. “How do I use Twitter to recruit non-exempt seasonal manual laborers to our mill out in [town you’ve never heard of].”

Answer: you don’t. Keep on doing what you’re doing. That Anthopologie top looks fab, by the way. And girl, you don’t look a day over 70. So don’t worry about hashtagging anything. It’s actually a little depressing when you try. Trust me: it will be once.Then you’ll live on as an egg and automatically assigned user name for eternity.

I don’t know why those are the only questions I get – and whoever said that old phrase, “there are no stupid questions, only stupid people” clearly never attended an HR related convention.  Because, well, SHRMPaloompas are the reason any of us “thought leaders” or “influencers” (read: unemployable, lazy, slovenly charlatans) can put food on the table, or travel to exotic destinations like Wichita or the O’Hare Airport Hilton.

The Rubenesque broad seen at a break room or snack machine near you. The one in the crochet sweater. With the creepy old lady pageboy bob and giant Grandma brooch on with something random like a gold Scottie dog in profile pinned to that obviously self-crocheted sweater. Nurse Ratchet but more ratchet.

It’s always been a little bit Twilight Zone for me that no matter where in the country you happen to be, you meet an HR lady, and you can spot her in a crowd without even seeing her Dooney and Burke bag or bangles.

5 Things SHRMPaloompas Love 


Turnt down for cheesecake.

These HR Ladies love a few things in life:

  1. Cats: But not cat hoarding, which they find cruel. I find irony in this.
  2. Pastries: Fresh baked, store bought, it does not matter to them a bit.
  3. Booze: But only when they’re out in force with other HR ladies will they ever actually admit they do, indeed, have a crippling problem with alcohol. Otherwise, they just sip silently from the flask in their desk.
  4. Handbags: Whether Coach or a classic Kate Spade 1998 edition, you’ve got to have somewhere to put all that swag that you shovel in there like my Grandma does with Sweet and Low at Denny’s. And you love that damn bag.
  5. 50 Shades of Gray: If you thought porn was a moral sin, it’d do it for you too.

But the one thing they don’t love, as it turns out, is the other question I always get.

The Point. Finally.

“What’s the deal with the hat.”

I was getting there. It’s simple. It’s not, as the head of TA for Zappos asked, for the purposes of personal branding. It’s not, as someone once suggested, because I didn’t shower that morning. The reason I didn’t shower is because I’m a blogger, the hat has nothing to do with it.

It’s not so that everyone will ask me if I’m Turtle from Entourage, which is an unfortunate side effect, just like getting recognized by some woman who follows you on Twitter in the lobby of a Marriott in BFE who thinks you’re best friends and all you want to do is check in and get away from this crazy lady with the SPHR name badge dangling around her jowled neck.

The reason I wear the hat is the answer to the same question. What’s in it for me is that I don’t have to look at videos of myself looking like this, the first time in the early years of social I had seen myself on YouTube in HD:

I’m going bald. And I hate it.

I’m by no means at Costanza or Larry David levels (yet), but I’m getting thin in the one area I wish I could pack a little more weight onto. Getting old sucks So too does the fact that I’m vain, even if I still have the primordial remains of a prominent hairline still somewhat evident.

But that’s the reason. So now, you can stop asking. Because unlike Dan Schwabel, the kid who gamed the system by being the first person douchy enough to take the concept of personas and monetize it as personal branding, I don’t give a shit what you think.  Sorry, Dan. I’m just jealous of your luscious locks (mostly kidding).

Any questions? I thought not.  What’s in it for you?  I know, but you chose to read this far anyways. Weirdo.

4 Comments on “The Deal With the Hat”

  1. Sometimes we just ask for the slides because some douchebag VP of HR with a worse haircut and bigger designer bag wants proof you attended the seminar she let you out of her sight for 7 hours on a Thursday to attend.

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