Tag Archives: recruiting

HR, HUMANITY

The Danger of Living Within Our Own Mythos

“A myth, in its original Greek meaning- mythos- is simply that: a story, one which seeks to render life transparent to an intelligible source.” ― Jules Cashford

mythos

My Discovery

When I was a little kid I was a voracious reader with the imagination of a 10-year-old boy that thought magic was real and trolls lived under bridges.  Princesses needed saving and dragons were to be slain.  However, my greatest love was the mythology of the Greeks, Romans, and Vikings.  I remember reading every tome I could find in the library or begging my mother to buy me books that spoke of the mythology within the binders.  I did not understand, at the time, that these stories were to not only entertain people but also to deliver sarcasm and knowledge about life and how to live it.

I happened upon my own mythos just recently on a Sunday morning which literally saved my life and this, my friends, is the story.

PANIC!

At 9AM I awoke with angst, this was going to be the first day of our annual College Hire Interview Event and there was an all-hands-on event to start promptly at 9:45 am.  The recruiters were expected to be in the office by 9AM to prep and get any and all things out of the way and then walk candidates in to begin their interview process and hopefully impress us to start their careers. This was going to be my first time working this event and I was nervous as I don’t live close to the office and traffic in DC can and is a nightmare. I panicked when I looked at the clock. Clearly, there was no way I would make it to the office by 9 as it was 9 already. I scrambled to dress, no shower for me this morning; I sprinted to the door and was off.

Once in the car, I called my boss and co-worker to let them know I was going to try my best to get arrive before the interviews started.  I turned on the radio to listen to my favorite morning drive-time show and floored the pedal, going way too fast on an interstate. The Radio DJ was talking about his costume choice for Halloween, which was Monday, today, but was alluding to the fact that was, in fact, tomorrow.  I thought to myself, did you screw up the loop or something? Today was Halloween, not tomorrow

I focused on the task at hand thinking in my mind the strategy I would employ with parking and arriving to the meeting on time. The Radio DJ, after every song, was babbling on about Halloween, tomorrow. I got off I95 and turned onto the beltway to a surprise.  The road was clear, SCORE! I was, of course, shocked, Monday morning and there was no one on the road? Did Halloween become some kind of National Holiday now? Personally, I was ok with it since my commute was going to be easier than expected but there was a nagging thought in my mind, all be it a small one, that I might be missing something.

Reality

Just before I go to the office, my boss called, and I immediately answered with my heart in my stomach.  He said, “Dumbass, it’s Sunday, enjoy your day off, and I will see you tomorrow.”  He laughed saying, “It’s going to be a long time until you live this one down!” I sat at the red light staring off in the distance, humiliated and realizing I am getting old, how did this happen? Well, at least I have the rest of the day to reflect on this.
However, life was going to take a different direction.

More than I Bargained for

Earlier in the month, I had contracted a skin virus on my right calf leg. Not having a primary Doctor since changing jobs and insurance companies, I just went to the ER to get checked out. They agreed it was a viral infection, gave me a prescription and I was on my way.  Since the hospital was near my office and my leg was, once again, showing signs of the infection, I decided, since I was here, to swing by and get another dose of antidote and hopefully fix my leg permanently.
I was in for a great deal more than I had bargained for.

Reston Hospital is a pretty pleasant place, considering it’s a housing facility for the ill and dying. Plenty of sunshine in the lobby and lots of magazines and helpful, friendly nurses. Just as my previous visit, they checked me in and before I could sit down, they had me in a room taking my clothes off and asking me the same questions I answered before. I tried to explain that I just needed some antibiotics and they could look up my chart. Not to draw this story out, it turned out I had blood clots in my leg and in my lungs. Not good. I was told by everyone I was lucky to have caught this as I was a walking time bomb, and could have died at any moment, as time was not a friend in this instance.

My point to this story you ask?

Simple: my mythos saved my life, this time. I chose to believe that I was firmly correct in my assumption that it was Monday and I would not consider anything else, no matter what the facts presented to me were that morning. I had to be correct, and everyone else had to be incorrect.

After this election, I have struggled to determine the same thing within the United States and the world, in general.

Communication is defunct, we, being bombarded by email, Facebook, Linkedin, Reddit, etc. We are chasing each other around in a virtual fishbowl we cannot seemingly get out of. Why?

Listen, I have lost my shit at times, believe me, many of you have seen it or read it from me. I get it. As I glide towards seeming senility, I want to at least understand the human condition better. Seemingly, there are not two sides to this coin called human life, just the same ugly sides covered with a different coat of paint.

What I have seen in the last week from both sides of this virtual coin is more disturbing than I ever thought. People are unaccepting of reality, and are acting in a way that they despise or were called out for and are emboldened to show their true colors.  People who extoll mercy and acceptance when they don’t get their way turn to violence? Those who were afraid and silent, that were belittled by one group, now rise in anger and benevolence to chastise something we thought long dead? The ignorant and intolerant feeling embolden to act in inhumane ways in order to prove one side or the other correct? Protecting the mythos and it is shamefull.  The profiteers on both sides who are making money by extolling the anger and hate, always keeping us apart.  The mythos that we cannot and seemingly refuse to release is tearing us apart. 

My leg is going to be better, or so they tell me. My silly reaction to the arrogance that my personal mythos that day could have very well saved my life, yet that same mythos-type mentality is tearing our very world apart, and we, like sheeple, are allowing it to happen. That, my friends, scares me more than the loss of my own mortality.

Take the time…

Take the time to listen to all opinions and do so without bashing or rhetoric. Listen, truly listen, and check facts. We need more talking and less yelling, more understanding why someone feels the way they do, then demanding they think like you.

Both sides just need to make better choices.

#truestory

BUSINESS, HR, PERSONAL GROWTH

Ben Gotkin and the Launch of ATAP – The Association of Talent Acquisition Professionals

Guest Ben Gotkin joins Rayanne to chat about the launch of ATAP, The Association of Talent Acquisition Professionals

iHR logo

HR Latte, episode 101

ATAP

Ben Gotkin, has been in recruiting his entire career – starting fresh out of college. For the past four years, has been a consultant and trainer with Recruiting Toolbox.  A volunteer at heart, Ben has seen the value of collaborative learning through out his career; Ben started RecruitDC in 2009 and it has grown a great deal.  He met Gerry Crispin, Lifelong Student of Recruiting, back in 2002. Gerry and Ben recently partnered to strategize, build, and launch The Association of Talent Acquisition Professionals.

The mission of ATAP to represent the interests of Talent Acquisition Professionals at every level worldwide.

“I said to Gerry, Hey — all the stuff we are doing locally is great, I’m really thrilled with what we’ve got off the ground in DC  but to really solve the issues, the challenges we face in this profession, what are some of the things we could potentially do to really impact that? – Ben Gotkin

How ATAP Came to Be:

  • The formation of working committees to define what the organization should be what the foundation should look like
  • A Review Board who vetted and debated what the committees came back with
  • Hard Launch in early 2017
  • Formation of  Board of Directors

Check out ATAPglobal.org

How to Join the Organization:

  • Establishing Board of Directors with a Passion for Talent Acquisition
  • Charter Membership
  • General Membership

It feels like recruiters have grown up, in a way…

“Agency recruiters have been around forever. Corporate Recruiting has really exploded within the last 20 years. Specialities within the recruiting profession have started to emerge in the past dozen years or so: sourcers,  employment branding specialists, outsourced organization: RPOs. In a lot of ways, we are in our teenage years, in terms of where the profession is going. All of this has happened by necessity.” – Ben Gotkin

Tune in to find about what’s going on with the soft launch of the Association of Talent Acquisition Professionals and the future of the organization

The Future of ATAP

  • Ethics & Advocacy
  • Education – building a common body of knowledge
  • Building Standards with Common Training
  • Organizational Growth

On Twitter

@BenGotkin
@Ray_anne
and @HRLatte

*Click here for past Episodes 1-66

HRLatte is made possible by:

Dovetail Software logoDovetail Software delivers web-based solutions & help desk programs that enable organizations to reduce administrative & support costs, diagnose & resolve complex business problems, and increase efficiency, while improving support.

Rayanne loves hosting talk radio and continues to hone this craft in every way possible by creating and hosting several educational and promotional radio shows, hosting & moderating webinars and podcasts, as well as a featured host on intrepid.media.

For more information about how you can use online radio or podcasting to educate your target audience or customer, compliment your marketing efforts, and grow your brand recognition, feel free to message Rayanne on Twitter, LinkedIn, or via email at rayanne@intrepid.media.

BUSINESS, HR

HR Latte: Josh Berry – Hiring for Innovation

Part 5: Guest Josh Berry in a new #KeyPointPodcast series discusses Hiring for Innovation
iHR logo

HR Latte, episode 92


Series:
 When HR Kills Innovation Efforts

Hiring for Innovation is a core piece of success for innovative companies and can make or break your breakthrough efforts. Econic helps corporations map and execute innovation. After working with many corporations in many different industries, Josh Berry, Co-Founder of Econic has discovered some barriers to successful innovation that have their roots in HR.

In Part 5 of this series, Rayanne and Josh discuss how hiring the right people can make a difference in innovation efforts. Getting the right people on the right teams is fundamental to transformation innovation success.

Tune in as Josh discusses what he has discovered from his years of consulting and working with hiring and HR departments.

Discussion Points for this episode:

  • Hiring for Innovation.
  • New ideas can distract from doing the “basics of business” right.
  • Hiring and equipping the right employees.
  • How we can encourage exec teams to listen to challenges of hiring?
  • Disagreement and Discord: Are these really negatives when it comes to innovation?
  • Complacency and Chaos
  • Succession Planning
  • Hiring Tools for Innovative companies

    On Twitter

    @Josh_Berry
    @Ray_anne
    @HRLatte
    and @intrepid_NOW

    *Click here for past Episodes 1-66

    HRLatte is made possible by:

    Dovetail Software logoDovetail Software delivers web-based solutions & help desk programs that enable organizations to reduce administrative & support costs, diagnose & resolve complex business problems, and increase efficiency, while improving support.

    Rayanne loves hosting talk radio and continues to hone this craft in every way possible by creating and hosting several educational and promotional radio shows, hosting & moderating webinars and podcasts, as well as a featured host on intrepid.media.

    For more information about how you can use online radio or podcasting to educate your target audience or customer, compliment your marketing efforts, and grow your brand recognition, feel free to message Rayanne on Twitter, LinkedIn, or via email at rayanne@intrepid.media.

HR, LIFESTYLE

NYC 15 Years Later: The Memorial and Never Forgetting

memorial


“It’s so much darker when a light goes out than it would have been if it had never shone.” –John Steinbeck

15 Years Later, New York City: the Memorial and Never Ever Forgetting                

How do you start a story about something that you don’t really want to talk about but have to? How Do you tell a story about the lives of people that you were just getting to know who were taken from you through an act of senseless terror, only days after your birthday on a warm summer morning? I don’t know, I know. Maybe this is not a story that will be written well, a page turner if you will, but, it’s not a story; It’s real. Many of us in the little aquarium we call life find ourselves smacking our heads against the glass, wondering why we are trapped and how we can get out. Thanks, Pink Floyd. So, if you want to go on this emotional roller-coaster with me, then here is your ticket, if not, frankly I do not blame you. Honestly, I hate that I pulled that number myself, but at times life is, as I often say, a dark ride. I did not choose it, but you did, so, come on in, it’s a long read, but I hope it’s worth it, and you will understand why I wrote it.

So the Ride Begins: The Preface

My first trip to NYC was when I was ten years old and there were three things I wanted to see: the Empire State Building, the Statue of Liberty, and the Trade Center Towers. When you are ten years old, it’s the big things, not the little things that matter to you and this was how old I was when I got to see, firsthand, those sites. To me, the Twin Towers were the greatest thing I had ever seen. I had gone there many times after that first trip. Over the years, I always marveled at the height of the towers and how the steel and glass glistened in the daylight. At night, it would glow like two behemoth beacons beckoning for you to come inside and see the city from its perspective. There was an observation deck on the top floor of one of the towers – I forget which one now, but due to its height and wind shear, you were not allowed to be outside like you could at the Empire State Building. Good for me I suppose, as heights are my Achilles heel. I get vertigo being above ten floors is often, if not always, overwhelming – especially if I am outdoors. I suppose this is what ended my mountain climbing career.

Then it happened, the attacks on the Towers, the Pentagon, and the brave souls in Pennsylvania. When I do speak of that day, and I rarely do, I always cry because, not only the tragic loss of life, but also, the loss of the world’s, and my, innocence. On that fateful day, seven of my friend’s lives were snatched from them in Tower One as it collapsed in on itself – much to the horror of those who watched, powerless and stunned, as it fell. I sat helplessly in Phoenix, thousands of miles away, as I observed the South Tower fall on the television screen. There was nothing I could have done and the hopelessness which gripped me has never been stronger than that day.

The Return – Part One

memorial

“Grief is like the ocean; it comes on waves ebbing and flowing. Sometimes the water is calm, and sometimes it is overwhelming. All we can do is learn to swim.” –Vicki Harrison

Roughly a year later, I was offered a trip to NYC to see the Arizona Diamondbacks play against the New York Yankees in a baseball rematch of the 2011 World Series. I am a diehard baseball fan and jumped at the chance for a free trip and a four-game series inside one the oldest and most historic parks in the US. We planned our entire trip to the big city from what Broadway show to see, museums to wander, and of course, what diners we would be eating delectables in the city. None of us spoke about the towers, not once. The group I was going with knew about my loss, and I suppose did not want to upset me by bringing up what happened that day. I was the only one in my group who had lost someone, let alone seven people – so how to be empathetic was lost on them? They are not bad people, mind you, they just had no idea how to broach the subject and I know I would have been the same way, it’s not something anyone thinks about, until you do.

We were going to spend six days in the city and had everything planned out, except the last day, the last day was a free day for everyone to do what they wanted, on their own time – at their pace. There was the talk of a trip to MOMA or Coney Island. There is much to do in the city that never sleeps. The trip was a great one, and I was pleased that everything went off without any issues and was looking forward to our bonus day, although I had no idea what I wanted to do, well, there was something.

King KongThe whole time we were in the city, I longed to go to Ground Zero, the place that even the great King Kong of the 1976 movie fame could not topple – the massive towers and, yet, they were gone.

Morning arrived on my last full day in NYC and as I rose to wash my face, still having no idea what I was going do with the day. I got dressed and while putting on my shoes, there was a knock at the door. I assumed it was just the house cleaning crew as I may have forgotten to put the do not disturb sign on the handle the night before. I was thoroughly taken aback when I opened the door, and my friends, all of them, were standing there. Bob, the elder of the group and the unofficial leader, said, “After you had left last night we all took a vote, it was unanimous, we are taking you to Ground Zero.” I felt my heart swell with pride and love that I had for a group of people who were willing to give up their free day for me to go and pay my respects at the site without having to be alone. Bob was a native New Yorker but had not been living there for over 30 years. He knew the city was hurting, I was hurting, and he recognized this was the right thing to do, or so we all thought.

When we got downtown, my anxiousness and fears set in as there were no behemoth towers, as we drove up, where they were supposed to be. There is an old joke; you know that light at the end of the tunnel? That is the train coming. Here I was stuffed into a cab on a hot summer day with the smells of the city and Aqua Velva emanating from the driver, as the reality of what had happened in NYC on September 11, 2001 hit me with full force.

This actually happened. I am going to have to own this pain now as this is not a dream, they were gone, and nothing would change that, nothing.

NYCWe arrived a few blocks from the site, and I scooped up my disposable camera I had bought to take pictures to hang in my office and, with a deep breath, began to walk toward the debris that even after a year was still was being cleared away. In the distance, I could see the makeshift memorial, the pictures, the flowers, the hope that, for some unexplainable reason, a loved one or friend would rise from the ashes and hug them again. I was only one block away but… I never made it.

kiss a strangerInstead, I dropped to my knees, unable to support the weight of the pain of my loss. There were now, not just seven people in my mind, but thousands and the burden of seeing those fliers on buildings, fences, and trees were too much, I was having a panic attack and didn’t know it. Bob was the first one to reach me, as he was literally by my side, but he was unable to lift a guy my size. The others quickly came to me and helped me up and asked the standard question, are you ok? I was not, even my dry wit had abandoned me, and I quietly murmured, I want to go back to the hotel.

So, we did. I made my way to the hotel bar and asked for a drink, a stiff drink. I know if there had been a pool of whiskey or vodka somewhere, I would have been swimming in it and drinking my way to the bottom. It was depression to the highest order, this was anger, and it was unresolved sorrow. I drank until I passed out and not one of my friends left my side. They put me to bed, helped with the hangover the next day, and never said a word.

The Return – Part Two

memorial“While grief is fresh, every attempt to divert only irritates. You must wait till it is digested, and then amusement will dissipate the remains of it.” –Samuel Johnson

I am writing this the day after my trip to NYC (New York City) to speak about a point in my life that I had been putting off for over 14 years. I had been to the city a few times after 9/11, but I could never bring myself to go to where the towers once stood proudly in the financial district of the city, near the banks of the Hudson River. After 13 years from that first trip back, I had yet to return to that part of New York again. I had been up once or twice, but I never went downtown to the district. It was where “it” had happened, where the towers were taken down, and the fact that I am, in fact, utterly human and completely fallible. The debris was gone, a new single enormous tower was constructed next to the site of the original Twins, and the city had moved on. I received a message from my friend Rayanne Thorn that she was coming to NYC to meet with friends and do some business and was hoping that I could come up for a family style dinner on a Thursday evening. I had finished a project and was waiting to start a new full-time role a few weeks away, and I thought why not, so I said yes knowing full well that although I did want to see her and others, I had an alternative motive this time to return.

I called my good friend Steve Levy and asked if he was around to pal around with me on Thursday before the dinner and I had a favor to ask of him. I wanted to go and see the tower and the memorial for 9/11. Steve had lost a friend, no, a brother who was one of the firefighters that died risking his life to save others. He carries his picture in his wallet with him, as I was later to find out. Me, I only had names and memories. He, of course, said, “Absolutely man, absolutely.”

I arrived on Wednesday had dinner with a friend, Mike Astringer, a fellow recruiter. A drink later with Levy and then it was Thursday morning. I awoke with palpitations and angst, the same I had felt those many years ago. We had breakfast and took the subway to downtown to see the memorial, the tower, and my past. I don’t know if he did it on purpose, not knowing my previous encounter with this site, or he did it for effect, but we got off a few blocks away from the Tower and began to walk.

We joked like we always did when we were together and the jocularity kept things light as the magnificence of the Freedom Tower loomed closer and larger, as did the angst rising within me. When we got to the tower, the landscape was entirely different, I recognized nothing, it was all different, but in the right way. The sun was shining and although it was cool outside the mood, was nothing like that. There was hope in the air. There was no more crying, no more leaflets or trash, and there was actually laughter in the air. Children were staring in awe at the foot of the Freedom Tower, not knowing the history, just taking in the magnificence.

We made our way to the Memorial and walked up to where the South Tower once stood and those feelings came back to me: pain, fear, despair, and loss. I was older now, and there was a distance created by time, yet it felt like 2002 all over again, and there was a tightness in my chest. We pressed on and arrived at the Freedom Tower. I was amazed; here I stood at the tallest building in the northern hemisphere, and I looked at it as if I were meeting one of my favorite authors, star struck. I am telling you; this was a bucket list moment.

The Memorial, the Hug, and Releasing Everything

memorialWhere I live, if someone gives you a hug it’s from the heart. – Steve Irwin

It was time to go to the Memorial and say goodbye the proper way, while paying my respects to not only the seven but to all who lost their lives that senselessly day. When I arrived at where the South Tower once stood, I was silent. I wanted to look for the names of my friends, I wanted to scream, I wanted answers, I just wanted something, what I wanted was peace, I wanted them back. I was holding it all back just breathing heavy and staring at the names and the splendor of the water flowing down the falls, the endless repetition of the water, there was so much beauty in front of me yet I only felt heartbreak. Steve and I made our way to the North Tower, the last tower to fall, and the one that, when it did, took his friend. He told me the stories of being lifeguards together when they were together and showed me the picture he still carries in his wallet of his friend. Soon we separated, to reflect alone, and that, my friends, is where it all sort of fell apart. I was just standing, staring at people, thinking, remembering that night we all met, what a night it was. We were all recruiters sharing stories about life, about ourselves, safe, now gone.

,A couple around my age were taking pictures and trying, as our generation does, to take a selfie of themselves in front of the inverted fountain before us. I stared at them wondering why this was some Kodak moment for them, but trying to feel no emotion and not completely break down, I went to move on only to have the wife jump in front of me and ask if I would take a picture of them. I replied, if you agree not to smile, this is, in a way, a graveyard and should always be respected. I have never seen eyes like hers stare at me and say, “You are of course right, we just want to document that we were here, our first time in NYC and all.” I realized my arrogance and said, just kidding in a genuine way to make them feel better as I was wrestling with my demons of 15 years and trying to stay calm. I took a few shots of them and, oddly, they did not smile, they knew, maybe, that this was not a celebratory place, but a memorial.

Once picture time was over, I smiled and was ready to slide back into keeping inside, pushing down my feelings and fighting back the tears trying come out. The woman said, “Thank you so much, are you from here?” No, I said, I lost seven friends here 15 years ago and at that moment the world stopped turning, there was no sound at all, just quiet within my mind. Pompeii then rose, and there was no holding anything back. I began to shake then cry, and the tears flowed. With no lack of hesitation, the woman standing by my side, the woman whose name I did not know, took me in her arms like a mother comforting a wounded child. She whispered, “It’s going to be all right,” her husband put his hand on my shoulder and said a short prayer then waited until I could finally, let go. It was nothing less than cathartic and cleansing; the demons were found and  released, and I could breathe again. I nodded my head and wandered till I found Steve, it was time to go somewhere, anywhere else other than here.

The Dinner and New Beginnings

Steve and I wandered the city after that, continuing our inner reflective journey. He often spoke of his world before and after, I was, oddly quiet as I am usually more verbose. Later, we had a drink with a mutual friend then off to a dinner planned by the irrepressible Rayanne Thorn. I don’t care much for large gatherings and usually shy from them but on the same note, it’s often hard for us to all meet up somewhere without the pressure of talking at a conference. Other than Steve and Rayanne, I knew no one at the event planned yet, from the moment I walked in I felt as if I was in a room of siblings and family I never knew existed.

7 new friendsWe laughed, smiled, and told our stories of how we all knew and met Rayanne; oddly it was mostly in a bar…another story I suppose. 😉 All the while, the day that was now behind me still lingered in mind, one last little demon still tapping on my brain. I was present but felt that to sum up the last 15 years needed to be brought out, I am a storyteller, you know. So, I told them at the dinner table after our meal the story you read here and the love that I felt, hugs that I received, and the stories that we shared made it one of the maven nights in this guy’s life. I must say that I thank all of you who were at that table for taking a moment to pay tribute to those who died that infamous day. Although I will never forget the seven people that I lost, I am grateful for the seven new friends I made that night, honored, humbled, and appreciative.

#truestory and, well #life

 

 

BUSINESS, HR

Stress Relief: The Danger of Over-Consumption

Stress Relief: The Danger of Over-Consumption

“That’s the problem with drinking, I thought, as I poured myself a drink. If something bad happens you drink in an attempt to forget; if something good happens you drink in order to celebrate; and if nothing happens you drink to make something happen.” ― Charles Bukowski

#truestoryMany of us in the recruiting business find ourselves sitting at a desk all day with our only exercise being typing on a keypad or a phone pad. Our cardio is our mouths screening and closing job candidates while selling to managers and trying to smile through unrealistic requirements put upon us.

This, unlike most of the things in our irrational choice to become a recruiter, is something that we actually can control. Some do, most do not. We merely slip into a comfort zone of drinking to relieve the stress. It’s like our version of exercise, instead of running to stave off stress, we drink alcohol. I have been to, and have spoken at, many conferences and have seen firsthand how the one constant communication tool is the copious amounts of alcohol that is consumed after the conference and exposition. I am not one to cast aspersions, as I have in the past had my fair share of binges and late-night revelries, but we need to make sure that this the exception to the rule and not the common thought out there. I was once asked in an interview how I dealt with stress. My answer was that I drank heavily.

Oddly I got the job.

I have to admit I was being interviewed by fellow recruiters so looking back, it makes sense, I guess. Also, I was, and am, snarky as hell – so at the very least, I thought it was funny.

This #truestory is about the person who took a chance on me those many years ago who got me into recruiting and the downward spiral that his life became as a warning of the dangers of alcohol abuse. Now, I am not saying that every recruiter is an alcoholic per sé, but we do seem to want to grab that glass of wine or whiskey and drink our troubles away. Hell, even now I am writing this at a bar waiting for the traffic to die down on the beltway, in other words, I’ll be here a while, but I am just going to sip on that beer. I like using relatively generic names when I speak or write to protect the identity of the person, so we are going to call my first mentor, Mike.

Have You Met My Friend, Mike?

“I like to see the glass as half full, hopefully of Jack Daniels.” 
― Darynda Jones

Mike was a great guy, who became a friend. He showed me the ropes of how to find, select, and close candidates. He was a master at it. He was a few years older than I, but he had grown up in the business since getting out of college with a literature degree. Since he could not find any other role for himself, he fell into recruiting, much like most, if not all of us, have. He was the silver-tongued devil who you just had to admire. When he spoke, you wanted to listen because he was eloquent and chose his words with precision. It was like watching a surgeon operate; he knew just how to cut through the bullshit and get to the real story. He was a good-looking guy, which complemented his charisma, and he could put on the charm at a bar, for a while.

Mike liked to drink, and when I say drink – I mean he REALLY liked to drink. He was a bourbon man and knew a great deal about the history, distillery process, and the nuances between manufacturers. I believe if you drank the way he did, it was not out of the question that his expertise would allow him to be a bourbon sommelier. I am not sure if that even exists but hey this is my story, and he can be an expert if I want him to be.

The thing about Mike is, he wasn’t a mean drunk, or loud, or even stupid. He was, shall we say, a dejected drunk. He would stare off into the distance, sometimes while telling a story he would lose his eloquence and sometimes, he would just stop talking altogether; in the middle of a statement. Other times he would cry, not bawl or wail, but sort of as a release of emotion that had been bottled in for too long and was being let out painfully slow.

I was still in the part of my life that hitting the bars after work was what you did. Happy hour was indeed happy, and you could get over priced drinks for a much lower price and when you are only making $15 an hour, that means one or two more libations. Mike knew this, and since he almost always picked up the check, and he was making a hell of a lot more than $15 an hour, he was happy to pay for a drinking buddy that would look out for him. I was happy to oblige as the drinks were plentiful, the stories flowed with the bourbon, and since Mike did not like to drive, I always wanted to make sure he got home safely by putting him in a cab or drop him off myself.

I had seen plenty of drunks, in my past, having been a bartender in my former life; I had learned how to control the situation and talk them off the ledge. After a few months, I came to realize that Mike was, in fact, more than a drunk, he was a functioning alcoholic who was spiraling out of control.

He started keeping a bottle in his desk and since the owner went out for lunch, every day and Mike’s desk had high cube walls he was able to take a shot or two during lunch time. Then, it was three or four, then, well, you get the point. It got bad, so bad that he was slurring his words by 4 pm and was even losing cognitive functionality at times. The owner of the company was clueless as to what was happening as Mike was making him cash and that was all he cared about, mostly. Caring about an employee who was crashing and burning was something that would make him a human being, which turned out – he was not. Yep, it was an agency, so would you be surprised? Probably not, if you have ever worked for one. Money makes the world go round.

The News…

“Ignorance is a lot like alcohol: the more you have of it, the less you are able to see its effect on you.” ― Jay M. Bylsma

Mike had been out all week; I thought he was on vacation but, apparently from the messages I got, he was on a bender. I went out with him on Wednesday telling him the boss was not thrilled that he kept calling in sick, he shrugged his shoulders, slammed another glass of bourbon down his throat, and said, “So what!”
I got into work on a Friday morning after taking the night off from going out with him; I needed the break. When I got in that morning, the mood was somber in the office. The place was not exactly a bustling habitat of activity, but there was usually a buzz, people on the phone or tapping away on the computer, instead there was only the sound of silence. There was something in the way people looked at me when I came in. It was as though they wanted to tell me something but did not feel that it was their place to do so. I made it to my desk, attached the leg iron to my ankle, and began my work day. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw one of my coworkers staring at her screen with red swollen eyes, the kind brought on by tears. She was not typing or reading she was just, staring as if she was in some trance. The owner came out of his office and came to my desk. He looked me in the eye and with the emotion that would have been emitted by a stone spoke.

“Mike is dead, sorry I know you were friends, but we need to move on. Seats need to be filled.”

He then walked away, without another word, right to his office and closed his door. The bullpen all looked at me at that moment for my reaction, my response, I had none. I sat there for a minute to take it in. I stood up and walked over to his desk, his cube, empty. I opened the drawer where he kept his bottle, empty. There were no pictures or even the notebooks he kept with the notes of candidates. The desk was cleared out; there was no evidence he even existed in our office. I was lost and I was not going to be found anytime soon. What happened? Was it an accident? What kills a 43-year-old man seemingly in good health?

Alchohol.

He had drunk himself to death; his liver had given out, and he had passed out not to awaken. Taken too soon and I did absolutely nothing to deter his behavior or get him help. I just took the free drinks & wings not ever asking what was behind those eyes that would stare into space. What were the demons that haunted him? Was the pressure to succeed, the daily push, was it too much for his constitution, to the point of no return? I know the answer, and it is simple; I’ll never know because I never asked. Shame on me.

Two days later, I quit to go to another agency and start fresh. The emotion of sitting across from, and staring at, Mike’s cube was too much to bare and frankly, plus working for a man who gave me grief because I wanted to attend his funeral wasn’t worth the paycheck. The price was too high.

This is the END, My Friend

“Take a drink because you pity yourself, and then the drink pities you and has a drink, and then two good drinks get together, and that calls for drinks all around.”  ― H. Beam Piper

#truestoryIn 1995, the movie Leaving Las Vegas came out based on the book of the same name. I saw this film in 1997, the first year I started recruiting, and I think, in a way, Mike could have penned that story – as his own did, unhappily, become eerily similar to the author. Most people don’t know that the book was an autobiography and the #truestory of John O’Brian. It is one hell of a movie and an even better book. Sadly, it reminded me of Mike, a good man who didn’t know how to control his stress or his demons; he just spiraled down the rabbit hole while we all just witnessed and did nothing. There was a sadness in Mike that was daily exacerbated by the stress of the job we did and frustrations we faced, I suppose. Time to fill, the cost of hire, number of resumés sent, it is all bullshit, we are in a people business, we are not accountants.

I miss Mike. I miss my mentor. I miss my, friend.
He should be here with me smiling and laughing like he always did, lighting up a room.

I’m going to tell you what, after writing this I think I am going for a run, instead of running to the bar, the truest of #truestories.

#life