Ikigai is a Japanese concept that means “a reason for being.” – In this blog I explore my own reasons for being.
To help with my personal growth, a few years ago, I started to write down notes about the year that was. This year I have decided to put my brainstorms into some more organised blog posts. Very 2014 I know. This is an exercise to help me understand my own ideas, where my head is at and a place to write goals to help me grow.
2018 turns out to have been a pretty crucial year, personally and professionally. My end of year brainstorm was massive. I have broken it in to a few posts. The first was about my love for growth and some lessons I had learned. This one is about whats going on in my head. My hunt for an Ikigai.
I hope you enjoy the insights.
I feel awkward when I talk to most people. I have distanced myself from the way most people live their lives that I hesitate to open my mouth. Hell for my personal life. Family functions and meeting random people at events are the worse. I should be charming but it turns out to be the opposite if I’m not careful.
Why is that?
Probably cos I am so different now!
The last 34 years have been a long journey, 2 careers, 2 wives, 12 countries, hundreds of jobs. Thousands of hours pondering the future!
It’s a long time since I lived out of a backpack and cooked for a living. The scars on my arms have faded but the windy road that got me this far has left me scarred and angry.
You may expect me to start the year with hope and dreams.
2018 made it worse; my heroes died, my friends betrayed me and the whole world has gone mad!
Anthony Bourdain’s book “Kitchen Confidential” had a huge effect on me. My sister gave me his book for Christmas the year it was released. I was 16 and I soaked it all in. I was already obsessed with cooking and working in my local pub at the time. I read his book an Authentic portrayal of addiction, kitchen life and one mans love for great food. A badass rockstar pirate chef’s self portrait painted with stories of a brigade bought together in the flames of service. It scared me, inspired me and fuelled my dreams.
It wasn’t until this year and his death that I realised this.
I met him a few times and he was the nicest, most authentic person I had ever had the chance to spend time with. It broke me to hear he had taken his own life. Was it because he still didn’t feel happy he was authentic?
My authentic self, entrepreneurial spirit and “je m’en foutiste” approach had been lost. Drowned under the murk of corporate jobs and trying to fit in. Inhouse recruiting had beaten out of me the best bits of me. Starting 2019 I realised that this year was going to be about big changes.
I left my job at Indeed primarily because of the fact the only thing they could give me to improve on was my communication technique. I realised I had gotten as far as I could there. The job board that can barely write a job ad. Hired robots. My first and last insight into the corporate world.
Not for me.
I realised what I want to do is be true to myself. Authentically broken with loud points of view and public mistakes. I would have to change again.
The lessons I learned in 2018, pointed that success in 2019 would all be about being true to me.
I want to inspire people.
I want to be Authentic.
I want to be me.
A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothes
At the beginning of 2019, I left DBR.
I did it because I no longer belong there. For a long time, I felt like a wolf in sheep’s clothes. I wasn’t going to say anything about it publicly but its a big part of this story.
I don’t belong in DBR anymore because I’m not an inhouse recruiter.
This has been playing on my conscience for a while now. While at Indeed, I could kind of live with it but as this year I set up my own firm and set out on my own. I can’t deal with the feeling that as a budding entrepreneur I didn’t belong there.
DBR is the world’s largest community built for inhouse recruiters.
I am no longer an inhouse recruiter.
I felt like a wolf in sheep’s clothes. I believe it is wrong that DBR is being run by CEO’s, HR Consultants and HR Tech peeps that don’t recruit. While their ethical compasses are obviously broken, mine is not. I should have left ages ago. DBR was set up for inhouse recruiters to talk to each other. We spent years fighting off the consultants and agencies. We strived to create a community that helped inhouse recruiters get better. An environment that helped them communicate and learned. We were annoyed that vendors controlled events and communities.
It turned a bit murky. What I thought was set up to stop the Back scratching, Backhanders and special rules for friends became a breeding ground for it. That left a sour taste in my mouth.
I am not an inhouse recruiter.
I don’t belong there…. so I left.
I still fundamentally believe in the community and the mission. I believe that by sharing we will build a better world. I believe DBR at its core is a beautiful platform and community. I hope that there are the right people in DBR to help it grow and flourish. I blieve there are people in it who can pick up the flame and help DBR continue to be a great place for inhouse recruiters.
EDIT – I was asked to take this down by one of the founders because they felt it was an attack on them. This is not an attack on anyone invovled in running DBR. Just my thoughts out in the world on why I left.
The honest and (slightly) selfish truth.
As much as I loved my job as an inhouse recruiter my end goal has always been to start building my own business. Recruitment was a way to observe the businesses that interest me from within, learn how they operate and figure out how to build one better.
It wasn’t until we had a baby this year that it all sank in. Maybe the too many hours reading medium posts, self help books and yearning for a better life hit home too.
After I finished my career as a chef I wanted to recruit because I was really interested in people. Interviewing them, Employing them and understanding how they fit into businesses. This has given me an amazingly unique perspective on the world especially when it comes to business.
I am confident I know what people want now.
With a baby and wife, my goals had changed. What I had been planning for ten years time, needed to happen today. My main goal as always is to be be an inspiration for them both. We want to travel, help others, build cool things and make the world a better place!
I want to channel my entrepreneurial skills to build businesses that are ethical and disruptive.
My Ikigai Is not as an inhouse recruiter but as something else.
I am not sure exactly what yet but I believe that I will find it on this road.
To help me Grow, I document things, at the end of every year, I write some notes about my year and some goals for the year to come. My mini personal retrospective has been happening in the dark for several (5+) years with just a spin-off article or two being published. This year its different.
2018 turns out to have been a pretty crucial year, personally and professionally. I had so much stuff I wanted to talk about. Time to write the personal blog I wanted to share. To make easier to understand, I have split it into three major topics.
Let start with what happened professionally, I quit my amazing job at Indeed to focus on looking after my wife and baby in Paris. A lifestyle choice is driven by my frustrations at the constrictions of working within a business operating at such a huge scale. My time at Indeed was a success, it was the longest I was ever an employee in a company and I learned a lot. However, since the beginning of the year, I have had something different planned for 2019. So I spent a lot of 2018 focused on my side hustle with the hope to become more nomadic, authentic and entrepreneurial. That’s why I have been doing a lot of Growth Hacking!
Tris ❤️ Growth Hacking
2018 I focused on honing my Growth Hacking Skills and applying them to Recruitment. Considering blogging and spending too much time on the internet is what got me started off on the journey to becoming a recruiter in the first place. In the last ten years and with no degree just energy, passion and a lot of hard work I come full circle back to my growth hacking roots. My personal and professional Growth can be tied closely to my passion for all things hacking. Life Hacking my way out of the kitchen, I have gone from dreaming of working in cool tech companies to being recognized as one of the top influencers in HR tech. There was no wonder I threw so much time and effort building the Growth Hacking Recruiters community.
I wanted to get better at Recruiting. I believe that innovation in recruiting comes from outside it, not within. On my constant quest to improve, Growth Hacking became my buzzword crutch to help me make more hires.
Growth Hacking was a Hot Topic; Personally, I had been following Growth Hacking industry for some time and stealing things I could apply to recruitment. When Jan Tegze wrote at the beginning of 2018 “Sorry, 2018 Won’t Be the Year of A.I., But Growth Hacking” I knew it was the time to jump and build the community. Talent Hackers had long stood still, build by vendors to capitalise on a trend. The recruitment hacking community had suffered by not having a place to call its own. The techniques had advanced, much as Growth Hacking since Sean Ellis used it as a buzzword to try and hire people.
There was an opportunity for a community that focused on consistently improving recruiting tactics and sharing cool tips and hacks. The timing felt perfect so I dropped Jan a note to see if he wanted to be involved and we got started on building what has already been called one of the hottest groups for Recruiters in 2019!
FINDING PEOPLE IS EASY – ENGAGING WITH THEM IS HARD
“Cutting through the noise and being there… ideally at the right time (even though there are many external factors to this that a sourcer/recruiter can not control). Being on the right screen with the right message is a real job” – Guillaume Alexandre
The truth is, Recruiter response rates are dropping and people are finding it hard to break through the noise we are all subjected to.
Gone are the days that people are flattered about being headhunted. Outbound recruiting has become normal, especially in the tech spheres.
Growth Hackers are experts at engaging with people at scale and (most of the time) selling them stuff. You can pretty much bet that that is exactly what most modern recruitment jobs are about too.
All Growth comes from desperately trying to succeed
The inefficiencies of most things in Recruiting show us how Recruitment mechanics still need to be optimised. Applying more growth hacking methods to the problem allows us to improve all elements of the hiring journey for both sides of the table.
To start the year, I read up huge amounts on the principles of growth hacking and marketing. I didn’t want the group to just be about sharing tools and tricks but about sharing methods too. During the journey, I realised that these techniques apply not just in Recruiting, but in sales, marketing and every part of your life where you want to improve. A lot of people are already sharing this stuff and learning from each other. That’s why it was so easy to build the community to where it is now.
I’m grateful for all the people that have gotten involved to create a community. We step into 2019 with a manifesto, a mission and a plan. Hopefully, we have helped others out there as this has become a huge catalyst for my personal growth.
Confused as to what I’m talking about? I wrote a true definition of what a growth hacking recruiter does. Confused about what a Growth Hack is, think free lightweight hacks that you can implement that will 100% improve your hiring process.
On top of growing a group where I could learn from my fellow growth hacking recruiters and share tips with new ones! Here is what I learned;
The first three points need far more time to explain than I have here, so expect separate blog posts on that soon, but Considering I have written posts about the three last points already in the group. I thought it would be fun to buld on the content and put them here.
Creating content has got easier. Personal branding is everywhere.
9 years ago, I went to IBC and heard from thought leaders in the broadcast industry that brands were going to become the broadcasters, they were wrong. Anyone can be a broadcaster and everyone is giving it a go. We really do live in a time when anyone can broadcast for millions, pretty much for free.
In recruitment, one of the biggest complaints I hear is they don’t have the support, the tools or the time to create the content they need to support their recruiting efforts. I think there is too much overthinking here and these people need a reality check.
The Barrier to entry is so low that all you need is an idea and a phone and you can create something amazing.
People don’t want polished content anymore, they don’t trust “on brand” corporate videos. They want an authentic view of where they can work and they want to hear the real story.
The only thing holding you back is yourself.
I find this true for myself as for those people I observe in the world.
Your not going to get it perfect the first time.
Just do it.
The worse that will happen is you will Fail and learn. More likely than not, you will get free exposure in any domain you want. I have helped and watched friends do this for their own careers in every domain and it works. Don’t wait for approval of your idea. Don’t expect people to get it.
Make it, post it and beg for forgiveness if someone complains.
I have done this in corporate employers and small ones and for myself. No one ever complained, they were grateful I made them look good and they were happy with the candidates I got them.
Be brave, your growth starts now!
Content is key, but first, you need rhythm.
Content is king but Rhythm is a Recruiters form of nurture marketing. Posting constantly and consistently reminds people who you are, what you stand for and what you do. It gets you more eyeballs and if what you post is good, it gets you fans and followers.
As a recruiter, it will increase your response rates, drive more relevant inbound candidates to you personally and make your bosses happy (because being engaged online makes them look good.)
Hung Lee and I talked about how hard this is. He reminded me that it takes a huge amount of confidence to post and share your authentic views on the world with the internet. ITs about building the muscle memory that helps you become a better contributor to the internet. “You need to get in the Rhythm,” he told me.
Jan Tegze reminded me as well when I asked him how he creates so much awesome content. Its all about having a rhythm.
To build the rhythm myself, I have taken to creating more and posting more. You can do that too. Here are some of the top tips I share with the Growth Hacking Recruiters that will help build the muscle memory to easily keep consistently contributing to the internet and building your personal brand.
Pick a topic and try and write one micro post about it a day, HIT SHARE even if it is not perfect! (Platforms like Twitter, Instagram or snapchat are great for this)
Write three comments when you Log In on every Platform
Regularly write a post in a format you enjoy and works for your brand.
Hung is the Perfect example of Rhythmic posting. Not only is he curating an amazing newsletter every week but he is posting format posts on LinkedIn to compliment them. If you want to start getting your brand out there then just sharing a link to his amazing newsletter gets your name in front of thousands of other peeps interested in the same stuff as us!
I have a loooong way to go
So while building this MINDSET has been a personal journey to get to what I really want in life, Freedom to do what I want every day. Make awesome moments!
My personal journey, becoming confident enough to consistently create and post content has been tough. I have always wanted to do more, this is the umpteenth year that I had started out saying. “I’m going to post more blogs and share more stuff” but I am definitely starting to get my head around it. Not a 100k a year from posting on LinkedIn and in Facebook groups yet, but we can all be dreamers 😉
I have often been blessed with a “Just do It” mindset, that reached a whole new level this year as I have focused on building a new growth focused mindset. More to come on that in my next post.
Growing myself is a long-term project!
WE HAVE GOT A LOOONG WAY TO GO
Growth Hacking Principles in Recruiting are still Nascent, you may remember that I wrote a long time ago that fixing recruitment is more about levelling up the recruiters. Empowering people to get better at what they do in every part of their life is something I can only dream of. If you want to join us and help us grow, don’t forget to say hi and share this post with a friend.
I felt I was drowning in the noise of nontent that everyone was publishing.
But the goals I set out for myself didn’t work and I ended 2017 more frustrated than ever at my lack of ability to write loads of great content on my blog. I wasn’t sure what is going wrong until I did some research and some soul-searching.
If you read or watch anything about personal branding, marketing or growth hacking, they all talk about having a clearly defined goal, I don’t have one for this blog.
This blog is purely self-promotion through self-discovery.
This is my personal portfolio.
With that in mind, I thought I would continue to write about my personal development and use it to develop my writing and my ideas. Use it to test the things I want to work on.
I set out with the best of intentions, last year I just couldn’t get it right.
So this year, I set out with more of a no fear approach and have been testing a bunch of other ways to get my message out there, to increase my reach. My goal continues to be to help people in my network and outside of it get better at recruiting and job hunting!
Its been a few months and I feel like I am starting to get my groove on.
Time to tell you all a bit about what I have done so far.
What did I do?
I looked at my audience and asked myself what do people want from me and what can I give them?
My audience can be easily broken down into 3 segments;
Recruiters who follow me to find out about the latest tools and trends in hiring
Job seekers and potential candidates
Friends, colleagues and family.
During my personal brand audit, I figured out that my largest audience is on LinkedIn, I tweet about stuff but it is predominantly personal and my facebook is pretty terrible. The content that was most successful last year was honest, authentic and a little bit ranty.
Having taken a look at what happened last year it was time to sit down and write some goals for what I want to achieve with my personal and professional brand.
Do more stuff that people enjoy and share.
Get better at Facebook (it is after all the worlds biggest social platform)
Do more stuff that helps people with their career.
Help more people have a voice.
Do more with Video!
Let me tell you how I have got on with it so far.
1. Do more stuff that people enjoy and share
I read some marketing books and growth hacking books and started watching stuff on virals on youtube and talked to people about it!
The number one rule here that I seem to be getting from everyone is Add Value.
I am still not sure what that means, but I am trying to do more stuff that helps people get better. Over my testing period, I have now learned to ask myself these two questions as I am posting or doing stuff;
Does this help someone do something better?
Is this the real me?
Will probably have to revisit this again in the next few months as I start to have more stuff shared by people.
2. Get better at Facebook
This has taken a bunch of bunch of different avenues as Facebook has become a beast of a platform. My first step was to take a look and see what other people are posting and thus spend a bit more time on facebook consuming content from recruiters and people with interesting personal brands.
I realised I needed to learn more about it so with the help of Jan Tegze I started a Facebook Group around a subject that I am really interested in, Growth Hacking, join if you fancy. Its all about how growth hacking techniques can apply to recruitment and there are some amazing people in it that are sharing loads of awesome stuff!
How many times do you think; I have to much stuff to do? Too many things on the go? I have no space in my brain to cope with it all?
If you are anything like me or the millions of others then this probably happens more times than you realise. We work in a world full of Advertising, Consumerism, Capitalism, KPI’s, OKR’s, Targets, Goals, Autonomy, Self-help and Self-actualization. In a world where we battle for our jobs, compete for attention and claw up the social ladder in an attempt to make our lives better. We forget that it is OK to be human and OK to feel.
We work in a world where we battle for our jobs, we competing for attention amongst our peers, colleagues and friends. A world where clawing up the social ladder is not just a goal but a necessity to live life, and make it better for yourself.
I believe in all of the above. I believe in the economy of autonomy. Work does not stop at 5pm for me. I didn’t make it out of high school and ignore university to the get to where I am today without having and leveraging these tools to make myself better. I have to work harder than others because I don’t have the fancy degree or the on trend, in-demand skill set. The skill set I have is perspiration and naivety. I can get to my goal by working hard on a problem. I am confident that all of the listed by-products of modern society have helped me get to where I am. They make me better but I find them a challenge to deal with.
Recently, I gave myself a personal goal of writing a blog every week… I gave myself deadlines… I put the pressure on myself to be better. On top of this personal goal, everything else is tumbling in on top;
I still haven’t figured out a permanent place to live following my recent exit of the UK.
I am visiting 4 different countries and 5 different cities in the next 6 weeks.
Pressure is mounting for finishing Q1 projects and kicking off Q2 in style.
My blog post last week got over 1000 views (maybe not that many for some of you big dogs reading this) but it suddenly made me self-conscious.
The SourceCon Grandmaster challenge that I entered at the end of last year, sent us an email on Sunday saying the finals weren’t for another week and the gave us a two-week deadline the day after.
Everything happened at once. My brain was overloaded!
I couldn’t figure out what I wanted to write about this week.
Lucky, I have a coping mechanism to help me figure this all out.
I’m not sure from where I got it from, the hundreds of self-help books and blogs I have read or closer to home? My Sister and her mindfulness, my Dad and his patience, my colleagues and their understanding.
Admitting to myself that I am overwhelmed is the first step to solving all the problems on my plate.
My coping mechanism is simple; I give myself time to think.
Although sometimes I feel like it is pointless and useless exercisee. I feel like I’m wasting time. I feel like I should be able to come up with the solution because I know it already. The reality is when I take the time to think; I come up with solutions to the challenges I am facing. If I write the solution down, it becomes concrete. myself time to think not as an excuse, not cos I’m failing but because I need time to think.
Giving myself time to think is not an excuse, it is not because I am failing but because I need time to think. I need to allow my brain to work through everything it has to deal with.
If you find yourself overwhelmed, I have only one piece of advice to give you. Step away for a while, not a minute but a couple of hours and give yourself time to think. Some people escape into sport and exercise, others video games and others into drinking plenty of craft beer and good food. Allowing myself space and the time I need, is not an excuse, it’s how I have conversations with myself and sort things out.
Having a conversation with yourself that gives you permission to breathe, enjoy life and think will help you fix things. Allowing yourself the space and time you need, is not an excuse but the best way to have a sensible conversation with yourself, the best way to subconsciously reflect on everything that is happening.
I promise it will help you sort things out.
Writing this all down, helped me solve the challenges I had today. I hope reading it helps you solve yours.
Make sure you get in touch if it helps or if you think I am a raving looney and it didnt help.
I have been nervous about blogging for a while but if you have noticed I have picked it up again. I thought it would be cool to explain what has changed. It could have been a new years resolution, I think having a little more time to do it and a little more confidence in myself os probably closer to the truth. Either that or I have just stupidly decided that I need to practice and no one cares anyway and I probably might end up deleting all of these posts next week anyway.
Part of me was scared of writing stuff down because I decided somewhere in the last few years, writing things down is a permanent document of my point of view on something. Much to the dismay of my fellow blogging friends, I tried to write posts that encyclopedically document an idea or a process. My blog posts (although medium successful) have been static and a tiny bit boring. When I re-read them all at the beginning of the year, I realised it was time for a change.
The other changes came from looking into the content I have been reading. Most of this content, no surprises here, but most of the stuff that I subject myself to can be classified as nontent and clickbait. I only consistently read things on three topics; Tech, Recruitment and Food. Most of this stuff is written by marketers, not practitioners. The tech writers, write for the PR machines of the advertisers that pay their wages with little interest in the subject. The food writers and bloggers have no taste and I don’t think I would trust them to warm me up some soup. As for the so called recruiters that pump out content, most are so far detached from the reality of what is happening that they feed the cottage industry of recruitment noise with little regard to the power (or lack of it) that they have.
So during the conversation I had with myself on the way home this evening, I realised that I started writing stuff on the internet some 18 years ago but none of it has really survived. My myspace doesn’t have a glittering starry background and lonely heart posts from a 13-year-old, my music blog doesn’t exist and I have managed tried to erase most of the shaven head and beardless pictures of me off the internet.
The truth is, that writing a blog is not a permanent reflection but an in the moment snapshot of how you feel. This is my personal blog so I am using it to just take tiny snapshots of myself. I am blogging for me not for you, however if you stumble across this post, then here is a little takeaway.
If you are going to blog, be genuine, be brave and be foolish. Don’t write what you think you should; write with the innocence of a child and with your heart. Don’t write for clicks or impressions, write for a cause, a belief and a reason. The most interesting stories are those that are true and genuine, those are the virals, not boring 5 reasons why robots won’t take your jobs!
With so much noise in the world, I hope that the genuine bloggers will rise again over the content marketers. Some of us will become more discerning readers and we will yearn the original homegrown feel of the true blogger. Enjoy my grammar mistakes, point out my spelling mistakes, comment about the stupid things I say.
I don’t care anymore. I’m writing for myself, not for you!
I like to have new things start of the new year, maybe it is because I’m a January baby, maybe it’s because it’s cold and there is not much happening. Anyway, you might have noticed that this year has started a little late. For most people it was only 0.000002 of a second late, this has something to do with the moon being a bit of a drag. You can do the math using the formulae below, I learned this thanks to Trevor who’s Christmas cards are always awesome and having thought about it. Everything does feel a little late this year.
For me, although I was working from the 3rd, 2017 started on the 8th of January with a flight to Dublin. I got the plane to Dublin a lot last year but this time was a little different. I had two bags and crying parents to drop me off at the airport. Yep, I’m not just here for a few days this time. It’s a bit more of a permanent move to start full time onsite in Indeed’s Dublin EMEA HQ. 2016 bought us Fake News, Trump & Brexit… 2017 brings you TREXIT!
Those of you that know me, will read with little surprise that I have moved again. I have moved a lot in my life, moving is a thing I grew up with. My parents didn’t stay still and I’ve never lived in the same place for more than 8 years. The most dramatic move was when one cold winter evening in 2000 we sat around the table the dinner table and decided to move to France. My parents were pretty brave, selling all their stuff (house included) and taking two teenage kids to Bordeaux just because we were bored of England, the food was better and the sun shined more often. Moving country definitely takes courage!
This was the calmest move I have ever made, having sat and reflected I realise that this is the 7th major European city I have moved all my life to on a permanent basis. This time I have the support of a job, a company, a team I know.. and let’s be honest, I have gotten a feel for Dublin over the last few months!
Ireland and the UK have always had a special relationship, but I can’t even be sure that will continue following this year’s political development. Yep, obviously, this blog post can’t really go unwritten without a little nod of the head to the wonderful Brits that voted to leave the European union last year. You might have remembered that my initial reaction looked something like this…. there is, of course, an element of fear in this move that this is the final chance I will get to have an opportunity like this.
I come from a liberal, middle-class family and thanks to the way I was brought up I have always considered myself a European citizen first and an Englishman second. This wasn’t a political move… but I am not too worried to leave London and the UK for a little while. It will still be there when I get back.
Plenty of questions to be answered on this Jaunt. Does a smaller City really equal a better lifestyle? Is Dublin really the new tech hub for Europe? Can I survive without 24 hour bagel bakeries and craft coffee on my doorstep?
Whatever happens. It’s to start the new year with a new challenge. I have, of course, realised how self-indulgent it is to give my move to Dublin its own hashtag and write a blog about it but its also an interesting story to tell.. apparently, all HR bloggers are pants anyway, so might as well practice on something. Next one will be less selfish, I promise!
Wondering what to do next? Do some MATH, follow me on twitter or try and win the few minutes you just lost by ranting at me on the comments!