Only Fools, Horses and One Lost American: Reverse Imperialism, Recruiting and #RecFest2

Last week, I went to London to talk about creating killer recruiting content at RecFest (that’s #RecFest2 on Twitter). I don’t normally write event wrap up posts, but I kind of feel like I’d be a hypocrite if I didn’t, considering the topic, and the fact that I talked a ton about blogging. While I gave myself the out by giving “only write when you have something to say” as one of my purported ‘best practices’ (albeit with the disclaimer that those don’t exist when it comes to writing), I still feel like I owe Jaime Leonard and the entire Reconverse crew a debt of gratitude for flying my ass from Fort Worth, Texas to foggy Londontown. And trusting me to open to a room full of, well, right proper recruiters.

Because, as conferences go, it was brilliant – and in the American sense of good format, attendee ratio and venue (it was a friggin’ battleship, which beats the Las Vegas Convention Center). In the British sense of the word, it was also brilliant, but I can’t get away with saying that shit anymore than I could get away with calling a truck a lorry or the shitter a loo. Them’s fighting words where I’m from – much like “The Irish are a very competent and hard working people” to your average denizen of the Home Counties.

Y’all Need To Learn To Write American Better.

dsc_0416I’m not entirely sure why, considering that the United Kingdom is the birthplace of both our language and literary heritage, and if an island that’s like an eighth the size of the Lone Star State (which, granted, produced both O. Henry and Harry Knowles) can produce Shakespeare, Dickens or Noel Coward, I’m fairly certain they could have found someone more credible to talk about content creation without paying for T&E.

Or maybe a little for T&E, since, to make the day even weirder, the English decided they’d go bizzarro world and become France, with the Tube workers going on strike for the first time in decades to protest the possibility their jobs would be replaced by robots.

This seems to make sense – walk away on a busy day with Wimbledon, Ed Sheeran and a cycle race to make sure management has no incentive whatsoever to figure out a way to come up with a more dependable solution than the guy who’s literally only job involves pushing a button.

Of course, for this, he makes a living wage and has comprehensive, guaranteed health insurance, which seems, again, like the UK might be a step ahead on matters related to their labor market.

Of course, they created the 40 hour work week and institutionalized getting the weekend off, too, but we done kicked their limey asses on our way to keeping slavery intact for another few decades while also somehow managing to actually go to war with the Spanish (repeatedly) instead of finding a clever way out, so chalk that one up to Manifest Destiny and poor supply community relations. We could have free education, health care ând Kate Middleton as First Lady (c’mon, already), but obviously, not worth taxation without representation.

Just ask any convicted felon disenfranchised for simple marijuana possession, the citizens of Washington, D.C. or Mitt Romney how that worked out, long term.

Freedom Isn’t Free. And the Exchange Rate Isn’t Great, Either.

Granted, in the biggest act of pro-British treason since Benedict Arnold or Stanley Kubrick, I flew out of  the heavily guarded, random body check enforcing Liberty International Airport (located in New Jersey, which is, I venture to guess, in no way an improvement on the original) on July 4. The plane pulled out over dozens of fireworks shows ablaze at sunset over the greater New York area (a definite improvement, I venture to guess, over the original, although the terrible accents endemic to both might be a push). We know how to celebrate freedom: blow shit up.

Which is about what I expected to do talking about content in front of a room full of “resourcing” professionals, a charming British term that means, like, recruiting and staffing, only with a slight underpinning of imperialism with a bit of Mr. Bumble thrown in. But turns out, the Brits were at least nice enough to be good hosts, tell me I did a good job, tweet very kind things and take me out to an Australian themed pub afterwards to celebrate the fact that their prison reform, again, long ago superseded ours. But the British, poor bastards, don’t have it all so grand – they’re crammed like sardines on a small island with two dentists, nothing but baked beans for breakfast and SkyTV’s amazing syndication choices of the shows the 80s forgot (more on that in a moment). God Save the Queen, and the rest of the lot.

Here’s the deck I used, embedded below for context. That’s all I’m going to say about that, other than I got some really killer photos of me looking kind of legitimate, too, which is why I’ve included them, like a douchy personal branding guru, in this recap post.

Dr. Who? (And What the Hell is ‘Only Fools and Horses’?)

“The conference is deliberately eclectic in tone. Yesterday began with Matt Charney, recruitment content expert and ardent disruptor, wearing his baseball cap back-to-front and riffing about ‘shit your audiences care about’.”

– “The Boat That Rocked.

The rest of the conference was lovely. Bill Boorman did his best Bill Boorman impersonation, I got to ignore yet another presentation about how mobile was going to change the world while playing around on my smart phone, some big brands brought big case studies that were grand if you’ve got millions of dollars to sink into recruiting programs, and a guy from Workday talked about how to think more like an agency as an in-house recruiter, an odd topic considering the first thing most agency recruiters would do is to stop paying for a really shitty, really expensive ERP system with limited utility for talent acquisition.But what do I know?

He got the room going by doing a parody of some theme song from an 80s BBC show, and my American showed as I looked around wondering what the hell was going on, since it sounded like if, over here, a room full of people suddenly started singing the Golden Girls theme song in unison at an industry event.

Which, come to think of it, would be a definite improvement over, say, ACA Implementation Rules & Regulations, OFCCP Update 2015 or the content they don’t have to worry about while enjoying their tea, crumpets and data privacy. But still, I’m sure that your average Brit would find it uncouth and unsettling to hear a nation full of gun toting, SUV loving, Slim Jim eating Patriots to suddenly break out into, “Thank You For Being A Friend.”

Seriously, what the hell is this? Yes, British friends, you’ve explained it to me, but as a fairly competent English speaker, after several dozen times listening to this and hoping like a Pink Floyd album I’d suddenly get the psychedelic undertones, can safely assert I have no idea what these words in this order mean.

To everyone who was nice enough to wait until I was no longer around to talk about how deplorable and unprofessional my presentation was, and even to deign to talk to me even though I’ve never so much as taken a single A Level or sat through an episode of Masterpiece Theatre or Jimmy Savile charity soiree. But even if I literally rocked the boat, it’s always nice to know that apparently, snark translates to the UK better than your average Toby Keith song or Duck Dynasty episode.

Although, as the Kardashian and selfie-stick ubiquity all around London did teach me, you’ve every right to hate us. But after #RecFest2, all I can say is, if I threw a party, and invited everyone I knew, you would see, the biggest gift would be from me, and the card upon it read: thank you for being a friend.

2 Comments on “Only Fools, Horses and One Lost American: Reverse Imperialism, Recruiting and #RecFest2”

  1. Pingback: The Hiring Hype Cycle: What Recruiters Should Really Care About. : Inside Talent

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