Steve Cadigan has been at the forefront of global talent strategy and company culture for the past 30 years. Most famous for scaling Linkedin from 400 to 4000 in 3.5 years, Steve also led the development of LI’s legendary company culture and was at the helm of the Talent function for its period of the highest growth and through their IPO.
Having worked in 5 different industries and 3 different countries while also leading dozens of acquisition integrations all over the world, Steve has built unparalleled expertise for the Talent arena. Steve’s focus today is to help leaders and organizations build winning talent solutions to compete in an increasingly complex digital economy.
The Case For A Human-Centered Future of Work
From digital disruptions to global pandemics, we are witnessing a seismic shift in the employer-employee relationship across the board. This is a workquake. What employers need and what employees want has evolved; however, we have yet to build a model and a contract that feels safe and inspirational to both parties.
The Workquake mission is to build a better, more honest, employer-employee relationship that works for the needs of today. Using real examples of people and companies, Steve Cadigan lays out a mindset and strategies that will allow both employer and employee to move from a headspace of anxiety to one of growth and success.
Rebel HR is a podcast for HR professionals and leaders of people who are ready to make some disruption in the world of work.
We'll be discussing topics that are disruptive to the world of work and talk about new and different ways to approach solving those problems.
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So I mean, think about when you've had that chance, and you're really well, I'm not qualified to do this. But man, this is awesome. I'm learning and important. And you know, and that's something that's a lesson that you I try to call out in my book like, don't be afraid of a little bit of crazy because there can be a lot more upside than you think and energy is a powerful thing.Kyle Roed:
This is the rebel HR podcast, the podcast where we talk to human resources, innovators, about innovation in the world of HR. If you're a people leader, or you're looking for a new way to think about how to help others be successful. This is the podcast for you. Rebel on HR rebels. Rebel HR listeners, welcome to our show. Super excited. For this week's guests. We have Steve catagen, who is an expert in the future of work, Steve is considered a corporate culture guru, bringing winning insights from over 30 years of HR experience with a few companies you may have heard of Google, Salesforce, McKinsey, the BBC. He is renowned for leading LinkedIn ads first talent push, growing from 400 to 4000. employees, and he has done many other wonderful things that we don't have time to cover. And the central, most exciting update here is he's also releasing a book called work quake, embracing the aftershocks of COVID-19 to create a better model of working. Welcome to the show, Steve, thanks for having me. co Great to be here. Well, I'm super excited for this conversation. As I was preparing for this discussion. I just kept thinking, well, this guy's perfect to talk to our listeners, because this book exemplifies exactly what we were trying to do with this podcast about a year ago. And so why don't we start off what inspired you to write work quite?Steve Cadigan:
Well, cow. I've been in the talent world for probably 3035 years. And I think over the course of the last couple of decades, I started to see some trends and some patterns that cause me to be frustrated. I wasn't really sure what was gnawing at me until I had a day where I was at Electronic Arts. And I talked about this in the introduction, the book was Electronic Arts. And my job because of it was 2008, the second mortgage crisis had hit. And a lot of companies were having to change their strategies. I've been hired by EA to do acquisition integration, as well as some day to day HR work as well. But the economic crisis had shrunk my job to about 20% of what I was hoping it would be. So it wasn't interesting to me. And my boss knew it. And I knew it. So I became open to some overtures that some companies were making to say, Hey, would you consider a different job, because I wasn't super happy and excited about the way my job had evolved. And so that's when LinkedIn approached me. I interviewed there, and I accepted the job. But before I accepted the job, my boss found out I was interviewing. And she found out because I had misplayed my hand by trying to impress LinkedIn and sent them all invitations. I don't know if you remember this, but back in 2008, whenever you connected with someone, the next day, your whole network had a broadcast. Hey, Kyle's now connected to. And so what my boss saw was Steve's now connected to the head of engineering, head of sales, the head of marketing, the chairman, the CEO, the whole leadership team. And so you didn't have to be a knucklehead to realize Steve's probably interviewing, so I get a phone call from her. Like, I know you're interviewing at LinkedIn. And I was just mortified, man, if I don't get this job, I am so screwed. Like, I feel like this is not right. It's not a recoverable moment. Well, I wound up getting the job. But I want to sort of confronting this awkward feeling of like, why am I feeling bad that I'm leaving, and I'd only been there a little over a year. And I was, you know, this is a once in a lifetime opportunity to be a new head of HR, the first head of HR at LinkedIn. And, you know, Electronic Arts couldn't promise that to me, they're not a pre IPO company. They're not in a high growth ramp. They're not in a new market space. And I was sort of feeling guilty. I'm like, why am I feeling guilty, this should be like a celebration. And my boss took a big hit, because I was leaving before the, you know, expected term of my employment. And that really, for me, sort of stuck in my my mind for a period of time and said, You know what, that we've got an outdated model of work that isn't fitting today's reality where people are leaving a little more frequently than they used to, and that when someone leaves for something better, that shouldn't be a devastation, a devastating moment, that should be something that maybe should be appreciated. And so it just I that sort of stuck with me and then probably was further advanced in my mind. Because I've seen in the last five years, probably the worst marketing campaign in history is how we talk about the future work. The robots are coming 50% of the jobs in five years don't even exist today. Good luck building the right skill set for the future, because the companies don't know what skills they needed, you don't know what skills they need. So fear, fear, fear. And I wanted to, you know, take that experience I had when I left Electronic Arts, take the experience of like, trying to counter a model and present a model for the future work that's more inspirational, and more motivational, and gets people inspired. And that it's not all about robots and AI, it's about being more human. And that's, you know, that was further I guess, affirmed to me, because I've been speaking around the world since I left LinkedIn, probably the last eight years. And every time I get off the stage, or stop teaching a class, the students or attendees would say, Hey, where's your book? Where's your book, and I pointed my brain and go through here. So I finally was pushed by some friends, like you got to, you got to write the book, you know, because people are really grooving on your ideas. And, and they seem to be needed right now. So that was kind of a long winded story of how I got to write the book.Kyle Roed:
You know, kudos to you for putting it down and documenting that journey. I mean, I just reflecting back on that time period, when LinkedIn was coming up, and and then I'm just thinking back just in the timeframe, when I start I don't even know when I got on LinkedIn was probably around that 2008 timeframe back when you could like, like, you knew everybody that was still. Right, right, you know, like, you weren't getting 75 different recruiters saying, Hey, I see you have this open position, you need any help. But I just remember what a powerful tool that became. But at that time, I didn't realize how much it was going to shift the paradigm of my job, which at that time was primarily talent acquisition. And now, if you're not leveraging that tool, you're you might as well be putting classifieds in the paper and having a strong faith. Right. So. So I mean, just the change that happened in the time that you started at LinkedIn, and to now I mean, it's, how do you even wrap your head around that? And then, as you look into the kind of the future, how do you start to forecast what the future of work is going to look like? Yeah,Steve Cadigan:
in cow great observation. I mean, 2008, I probably was, I don't you probably were one of the first million members, right? That guy, did you get that notice? Point, like, hey, you're one. Yeah, I was one of them. And I think his HR people were early adopters, we sort of see the benefit of connecting with people and keeping in touch and being resourceful. And so I was relatively early in the curve. And I couldn't, I didn't not forecast the degree or the magnitude that in LinkedIn, was going to have in people's lives. And so and honestly, the founders didn't, either they didn't, I mean, the founders were like, let's build something that we can all connect. And Reid Hoffman is just a master networker and of himself. He's like, let's just connect with people because it's going to make the world better. And then someone said, Hey, we'll pay you to, you know, search your database of people to post jobs. And like, you'd pay us for that. And so that is less than 15 years ago, ish, you know, and it's really, I mean, think about that I was, I joined LinkedIn, we were six years old, I left work 10, four years of my life felt like 20. And it was unlike any experience that I could explain, but but being in a place is hard enough to build a company. But to build a new industry and a new platform, a new think about I've been recruiting 30 plus years, you two, or maybe less, because look a lot younger than me. But I think, what are the innovations that have really happened in the world of recruiting? I mean, besides the internet, not much, right? Like what's, like, I remember, your biggest strategic advantage was stealing the phone book of your competition, because now you had so you can back into an org chart, and you could try to go after them. Yeah. And then it was, you know, job fairs, and things like that would turn me on the most about when I first went into LinkedIn to interview. And I couldn't sleep for a week after I met the leadership team. I was so excited, because what I felt, there's a lot of things I don't like about corporate work. But one of the things that really rubbed me was that a lot of bad leaders were tolerated in organizations, and I felt like this platform was going to expose bad leadership in the same way that Glassdoor is sort of made that almost two it's almost more than expose, it's almost like, made it super easy for people to to express their own happiness. But I thought that's a good outcome. Right? So I'll tell you a fun story. And maybe some of listeners can relate to this. So 2009 one of the founders of LinkedIn, Alan blue, and I get invited to the largest employer in America outside of the government, Walmart Corporation, and they want Alan Founder to speaker to have a luncheon Speaker Series every day at lunch to have a speaker come in or a couple times a week, Alan was gonna be the speaker. And then he and I were going to meet with the HR leadership team, and then the engineering team because the engineering organization was struggling hiring people. And so I'll never forget going to here's the largest employer in the country. And the first thing the head of HR says to me is, why would I ever buy LinkedIn? Why would I ever buy something where my employees can go find another job? Yeah, and it was like, This is 2009, I'm thinking to myself, Holy smokes, that's where you guys are at. That's where you guys feel like, hey, I need to hide opportunity for my people. Otherwise, I'm going to lose them, which is basically you admitting you don't have the right culture, and you don't have the right means. And as soon as someone sees another opportunity they're going to want to run. So I said, you know, it's trying to be polite, professional, and here's potentially the biggest client you could ever hope for. Because of the volume of recruiting they do even even though most of the recruiting is for retail. They still had 60,000 80,000 administrative staff that had computers and so forth. And I said, Well, I said, How about we look at this differently? What if I told you I can turn every one of your employees into a recruiter for you? Would that be interesting to you that they could network and they could apply their their reach into their network to help fill your jobs? Would that be worth something to you? And they said, Oh, yeah, I said, well, so that's how I think about this. But by the way, the cats out of the bag, they're going on LinkedIn at home. So and that's part of what I was saying earlier call like, it's game on, like, you have to be a desired destination, because LinkedIn is gonna serve to you more choice than ever before. And truly, there's two sides of that sword. There's the good side, which is I have more choice and visibility to opportunity. And I could see what I can do with my education background experiences, more than I could ever see before. But more choice means harder decisions. Because the more choices you have some time, the harder it is to choose. And I think that's contributing to why people are leaving jobs faster than ever before, why people are not satisfied in their job, because we know not only can we make a great choice today, thanks to sites like LinkedIn, but we also know more about what we don't have the benefits, we don't have what our competitors have. And that can be profoundly unsettling. We haven't really absorbed, how do we handle all this information? And be motivated by it, if that makes sense?Kyle Roed:
Yeah. God, that's a really fascinating observation. I hadn't hadn't really thought about it like that. But it's almost like, it's very similar to the some of the research done that people who are on social media all the time can tend to be miserable. If they're constantly comparing themselves against all of these, like wonderful pictures on Instagram, and all of these smiling families on Facebook. And it's, and a lot of times, it's totally, it's a facade, you know, it's right. It's not real life. It's like a snapshot. And it's airbrushed. But Kind of, yeah, I hadn't thought about LinkedIn in that context, when I put itSteve Cadigan:
put it to you this way, Carl. So in theory, would you agree that candidates and employers have more and better information to make more insightful career choices today than at any point in history? Both parties know more about each other. Okay. So Shouldn't it stand to reason that people are making the best career choices and employers are making the best hires they've ever made? Because we got better information than ever before? It should stand to reason. Right? Yeah. Okay. So then why is disengagement increasing? And job satisfaction? Yeah, so that that is part of what drove me to write this book, like what's going on? Yeah, right. And so when you go, when I go to leaders around the world, I say, What's your biggest problem? And this is Latin America, Europe, Canada, Mexico, Asia, what's your biggest problem? I can't keep my best people. Why not? And that immediately needs to leads to the knee jerk all those millennials short attention span career sugar, high shopping for promotion disloyal. And so which leads me to say you mean your children that you raised with those values? That's the problem with the workforce. And I said, Let's, let's, let's unpack this a little bit. I said, Mr. Mrs. Executive, I want you to go back 40 years in time, if you could see all the opportunities that the workforce sees today, if you had as much choice, you know, who's paying what and what their benefits are, their culture is their leadership style, what the percentage of ownership of the company is and from the leaders and who's dumping stock, and if you could see all that stuff, the talent can see that are you mean to tell me to still be in the same company for two years later? No, you wouldn't be. And so it's not a generational psychology. I believe the landscape of work is now different. And people are making different choices because they see more. Right? It's way more complex than just a knee jerk Gen Z millennial, you know, short attention span career. Sure, you know, reality and that's what I hear from them that said, Why do you think they're doing that? Oh, yeah, this generation Mm hmm. I don't think so I think there's something much bigger. And now the pandemic on top of that, right has created a situation we have for the last year and a half, every one of us is looking at our lives differently. And we're seeing in April, the largest number of resignations in the history of American business, since we've been tracking it 40% of the workforce saying I am not going back even for 30%, you know, 50% pay increase if I have to go back to the office. And that's a testament to how dramatic I think people are seeing the world work differently. And I don't think it's a short term thing. I think it's kind of a long term deal.Kyle Roed:
Yeah. Yeah, it's really fascinating to think about, even just the the change that's occurred in the last 18 months. And I think the pandemic was terrible, for many reasons. But one of the silver linings was it also kind of gave a lot of people the opportunity to take a breath during a time when you have more information at your disposal. And any time in history. And oh, by the way, we still have a talent, need it, millions of employers around the world that are willing to pay for, for people and willing to be flexible. So it's, you know, if you're an employer who's, who just wants to go back, well, you know what, okay, we'll get through the pandemic, then we'll just go back to how it was back in December of 19. That'll be perfect. Can't wait for this to be over. It's too late. Right. ISteve Cadigan:
mean, I just that's my opinion, is those that aren't adaptable will eventually just lose out on the best talent. That's right. And to your point, I'm an optimist, just like you are. And I think this is the greatest leadership test in history. We have seen what country leaders have made of what company leaders are made of who's taken advantage of the pandemic to squeeze a profit, who's showing their employees that they're repurchasing their factory to make respirators and not charging a dime for it. We're seeing all kinds of really cool things that organizations are doing and leaders are doing to step up. I mean, you know, this, when you work in HR, all of us do that. It when times are tough is when you got an opportunity to really build followership. And I think, you know, I was asked last April to give the graduation talk for university San Francisco School of Business, and they said, Hey, we just have one ask, you need to be inspirational. I'm like, inspirational. This is like the nuclear winter of job opportunities, like, how am I going to be inspirational? So I thought about and I said, Okay, here's what I'm going to have to say. So I told the graduate, listen, you're not graduating into the most plentiful opportunity landscape ever, of jobs that are open now. But they will be. But you have something more valuable that generations before you haven't had, you can see what every organization out there is made of, because they've had to reveal themselves during the pandemic, and, as you pointed out, now violently agree with you, the companies and individuals that are agile and adaptable, the ones that are going to win. And it just so happens, a lot of the tech companies are built on platforms of crazy where things are always changing. And I think they're used to it, and they've they've had an easier time of pivoting. You know, I look at my LinkedIn days, you're bringing up that I was there for for crazy growth years, the average tenure of my population every year I was there was nine months. And we created $26 billion company that Microsoft bought a few years ago. And I really took me years, honestly called, I look back and I go like, how do we do that? Like, it wasn't an easy product to sell is a very complex business model more complicated than Facebook, Facebook's mainly advertising, right? Yes, they have to have free experiences that are going to engage users. But their main businesses that were in recruiting or marketing or advertising, or a bunch of different verticals, now they're in sort of sales leads as well. So that wasn't easy. But I think the advantage we had is one that I think companies can take advantage of today, which is cultures of change are really, really powerful. Because what I learned through that experience of growing LinkedIn is something that I think a lot of startups and technology companies experience. And that is, when you're growing and changing. everyone's job is changing, and there's energy released. And if you ask anyone, when's the most you've ever been motivated in your career? Doing the same thing for five years or doing something new? And people always Oh, yeah, doing something new. Okay, so then why is your company built? So people stay in the same jobs? What period of time? Like, why are you doing that you're missing unlocking something. And so what we found at LinkedIn was because we're hiring all that we doubled every year, I was there the size of the population. All my senior leaders were recruiting closing candidates, which was great. We had to do that. But that meant their lieutenants were stepping into their jobs and running the operational needs. Whereas on paper, they're just not qualified to do that. So I mean, think about when you've had that chance, and you're really whoa, I'm not qualified to do this. But man, this is awesome. I'm learning and important and you know, and that That's something that's a lesson that you I try to call out in my book like, don't be afraid of a little bit of crazy because there can be a lot more upside than you think. And energy is a powerful thing.Kyle Roed:
Yeah. And now a word from our sponsors. When Molly Patrick and I had to figure out how to start our own podcast, we didn't know where to start. Thankfully, we found buzzsprout buzzsprout makes it super easy for us to upload our episodes, track our listeners, and get listed on all the major podcast networks. Today's a great day to start your own podcast. I know that you're one of our listeners. So you've definitely got something to say. Whether you're looking for a new marketing channel, have a message you want to share with the world or just think it would be fun to have your own talk show. podcasting is an easy, inexpensive and fun way to expand your reach online. buzzsprout is hands down the easiest and best way to launch promote and track your podcast. Your show can be online and listed in all the major podcast directories within minutes of finishing your recording. podcasting isn't that hard when you have the right partner, the team at buzzsprout is passionate about helping you succeed. Join over 100,000 podcasters already using buzzsprout to get their message out to the world. And now for listeners of rebel HR. You can get a $20 amazon gift card sent to you from buzzsprout by clicking in the link in the show notes. Thanks for listening. Are you looking to grow your personal brand or your business brand? Take it from me that podcasts are a great way to do it. Here's the secret. We all want to feel connected to the brands that we buy from what better way to humanize a brand than through sharing your personal story on a podcast. I have had great success with kit caster kit caster is a podcast booking agency that specializes in developing real human connections through podcast appearances. And let me tell you, it's all about the right human connection. You can expect a completely customized concierge service from their staff of communication experts. kit caster is your secret weapon in podcasting for business, your audience is waiting to hear from you. For a limited time offer listeners to the rebel HR podcast can go to www dot Kitt caster.com backslash rebel to get a special offer for friends of the podcast Rebel on. Yeah, that's a really interesting, interesting observation. I think about those moments in my career personally where, you know, yeah, I was thrust into something specially in HR, I'm sure our listeners are sitting here think they can probably name off top areas, those were five crazy moments that I wasn't prepared for. But each one of those, you know, for me, it was my first manager job. And it was a leader who left unexpectedly got promoted. And then there was a vacuum and it's like, I wasn't qualified. And that's basically what I said in the interview. I'm like, Well, I'm not qualified, but I'm willing, right? So like, give me a shot, you know, and they were like, well, he's cheap. So okay. But it was, gosh, I learned more in one year than I learned in my entire, you know, collegiate career and right, and it was fine and crazy and screwed up and but learned and then you know, got better. And so, you know, I mean, for me, that was one of the hardest but most fun aspects. So is that what you're referring to in your book? You know, you talk about, you know, kind of that learning mindset? Is that one of those commonalities that you saw, as you were growing that organization that that learning mindset was kind of the it factor, if you will?Steve Cadigan:
Well, I'll tell you what, what was really, a new experience for me at LinkedIn was building a new business, this whole platform recruiting passive recruiting model that hadn't existed before. With a leadership team that no one had ever been in the recruiting business before, I probably hired more people than our leadership team combined. But it wasn't my business, you know, my recruiter for somebody else. Building a new model forces you to look at the world a little bit differently. And I think that was a good forcing function for us to experiment and try people in new jobs, because their jobs didn't exist that we were trying to do before, you know, and, you know, how do we sell our product to companies who've never bought anything like this before? You know, so for example, we would start, I remember, this is like my first week at LinkedIn, this guy comes in Brian Frank. He's now working at cameo, which is an interesting company. And he comes in, he says, Steve, I want to explain our business to you. And I was like, well, thank you. This is great, because that's what I want. I want the business. He goes, Okay. He draws a big pie circle, and then he draws a thin line. He goes everything except for that thin line. That's the most the significant expense Every company has, you know what that is? I go, No, he goes, That's payroll. He goes 95% of the expense of every company's payroll. So we're gonna go tell people don't you want to be thoughtful around the choices you're making for 95% of the expenses of your company. And I was like, Okay, now I get it, you know, and it's sort of that plus, we had multiple People that by force of necessity because we couldn't hire people like we would have people who are brains, literally brain surgeons that were really good with data that wanted to help us solve the problem of helping people find their dream job. So they would, we would hire them as data scientists, and they would just blow our minds with the kind of stuff that unfortunately, are brain scientists. So when our minds are blown, they could help put it back together, but they don't.Kyle Roed:
But they were really great joke. I liked it.Steve Cadigan:
They were really you know, and then we would take people from I remember one guy, this guy, Mike on when was his name's Vietnamese guy. And on the weekends, he would, he had a doggie diner, that he would drive around the bay area with his family, and they sell hot dogs, he make these relish. And he was an accountant. And he all he wanted to do was talk about his doggie diner all the time. And so one day, we hit a point where we needed to build a food program the company like we're going, we need to have cafeteria and stuff. We're big enough now. So we went to him said, Hey, would you want to take over our food program? He's like, what? I'm gonna count. Yeah, Michael, but all you do is talk about your doggie diner all the time. You clearly love this stuff. Would you want to do that? And he's like, you would do that? I was like, yeah. So we put them over there, the guy starts crying, I start crying, his boss starts crying. And then guess what he becomes the most and loudest advocate for us on social media around Job Change, career change, LinkedIn, doing something really special. And you just those stories helped us learn, you taking a chance on someone was going to reveal some upsides and sort of move my mindset of experiences more important than talent to definitely talents more important and experience like that was a huge mind shift for me as we're building something new, and you have to take risks, because there's no one who's got the experience that you need. You know, it was super interesting.Kyle Roed:
Yeah, I also violently agree with that perspective. And, you know, I think, you know, my industry is an interesting one, because it's, it's so so polar opposite to what you just described, it's, you know, manufacturing, it's build the process, and then let the process run. And, you know, it's almost like the perspective is the people are secondary. And I think it's a really interesting corollary to think about, if you just look at like, the cogs, we'll talk about accounting, but it does get sold. And for us, it is not people, it's it's the raw material that goes into producing the product, people, there's number two as it relates to expense. And so you know, there's maybe a little bit of a shift there. But I would tell you that one of the areas that our business could consider as its competitive edge is the fact that we're International. So I have a meeting tonight with Singapore and China and had a meeting this morning with Amsterdam and spend the middle of my day in the US, you know, and it's, so it's a very, very dynamic organization. But the mindset is, can really struggle as it relates to change. And we really do kind of fight that battle between individuals who, well, 20 years ago, we did it this way, you know, why would we change it? We're profitable, why would we change it now. But one of the risks and I would say, threats that COVID exacerbated for us is the fact that we did find that we have to be more nimble, because if we're not somebody else will be. And from my perspective, that that is extremely critical as it relates to talent, and technology integration. And so, you know, as we look at, you know, some of the futurists and AI and you know, all these all these software, claims, they're going to take away, you know, the need for people, you make a concerted effort to make sure that we need to be more focused on humans than ever before. And so how did you build kind of build that mindset into your work as you progress through your career? And what what led you to that, to that theory?Steve Cadigan:
Yeah, well, thank you for for calling that out. And I hope that a lot of listeners can empathize with what you're saying, which is this notion that the future work has been the worst marketing campaign in history, right, that you know, that run for the hills, the robots are going to take your job. And so I think is probably a progressive awareness over time. Honestly, Kyle, that I very cynical, when the consultants would come in and said, we're going to do a digital transformation. And I go, what does that mean? Oh, we're going to, you know, implement these new tools and systems, the company's going to be more much more profitable, make more money, greater margins, lower the cogs, as you say, you know, it's gonna be really great. And what really got under my craw, having heard this in every organizations I've been in every company I'm consulting with today is going through some form of digital transformation or another. I said, let me tell you what an employee here is when you come Knock, knock, who is it, it's HR consulting, we're going to go through digital transformation. What they hear is my job is going away. Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. I'm probably going to be let go, blah, blah, blah, blah blah. This is good for the But I don't think it's good for me. And for me, it's kind of starts with the language. Think about those two words digital transformation for a second. Do those words to you conjure up notions of beautiful human loving, caring, lasting, you know, nature bucolic settings. No, they conjure up notions of cold, heartless, steal, inhuman. And when I see most of these organizations talk about launching these digital transformations, they're not going to say, hey, cow, if I told you I can make your job more interesting, you could do in a shorter period of time, you can make a better, bigger impact and have more fun, would you be interested in you go? Yeah, but that's not what we do. We say, hey, there's a new tool, a new system, go to the training on Thursday, learn how to do this, your job is gonna change a lot. And here's the handbook study up good luck. You know, and here's why it's good for the company, not why is good for you. And I think we need a new language, I think we need to recognize that the future is about being more human. And, and yes, we need to leverage technical edge for us to be successful in the future. But the real advantage for us as individuals professionally is if we can double down on what it takes to be a human that technology cannot do carry leadership, compassion, empathy, understanding, and most importantly, communication. And I will tell you, and I know, a lot of the other HR leaders can resonate with this. A lot of communication that I deal with, in organizations I work today is nonverbal. You know, how does AI pick up nonverbal cues, where the eyeballs go, you know, how someone's physically reacting to a certain setting. And that's just something that we have as humans, that technology is never gonna happen. That's a beautiful thing. So I'm not worried about the future, I'm worried about the fact that we're so inundated with new technology that most people think, oh, the way I'm going to get out of this is to buy new technology that buys me more time. So or my quick the seduction with using more technology. And you know, I'm a parent, I'm fearful that my kids are going to lose the ability to have unstructured conversation, because they're texting when I call them on the phone and they text me back, what do you want, I'd like you to pick up the phone, that's where we can talk. And I can, you know, sniff if you're up to something or not. But truly, I am optimistic. And I do believe that if you double down, hey, learning new tools, new systems, super important in the biggest, most important skill, the future is your capacity to learn quickly, that's going to differentiate companies and individuals, the faster you can learn stuff, but it's being human, that's going to really be the stickiness for I believe long term career success and how you differentiate yourself from the waste of technology can help and you know, supplement things we do that work.Kyle Roed:
Yeah, that's really interesting. Yeah, I definitely. I like that, you know, the rainbows and puppy dogs a lot more than the, you know, the Terminator. Right, you know, future? You know, it's really interesting, I do wonder, kind of in the same context with, you know, the environment that we're shifting into? How are we going to use the technological tools to maintain the relationships that that we are used to cultivating in person, you know, is there because I think, I think it can happen, I certainly won't pretend to know the best way to make that happen. And quite frankly, it's just easier to accidentally run into somebody in the hallway and then have a wonderful conversation than it is to, you know, have a very intentional zoom meeting, about the same context. So how do we inject humanity into this new workplace structure that in inherently reduces in person contact?Steve Cadigan:
What a great question. I hope every organization is asking this because the pandemic hit initially, my concern was, you know, I think as humans we really feed off of community, you know, we feed off of the human experience, shared human experience, and there's a lot of research out there to suggest you know, the, the people that end their lives with the highest level of feeling content are the people who have surrounded themselves with friends and colleagues and people that have good relationships with. And I think that what I think we need to try to embrace more particularly in this remote work reality that we're still working our way through for most of America, and the world is to be intentional around creating informal moments where we can connect, creating those, whether it's an online game that you know, HR is playing finances, weekend, you know, Clash of Clans, and, you know, we're gonna have an online game, we're gonna have a chat box, it's open or whether it's a one on one chess tournament, whether it's a coffee roulette, where we're going to match to people in the organization that's never met. Before they can have a virtual coffee or in person coffee, like I think we need to use systems and tools to create informal collisions of people. Because I believe some of the best work I've ever done at work was when someone's guard is down. They're not expecting to have a formal meeting, those of you who are parents, I want to ask you a question, when do you have the best conversations with your kid? And you say, Can we have a talk? Or is that when you're driving them to baseball practice, or school and you're both looking forward, there's no agenda. And they say, I cut sir tomorrow, and I'm a little bit nervous, I'm not gonna make the team and they say that is Lance. Now, we are losing some of those. Because of this, you know, problematize, I need to set up a meeting with you on zoom or whatever reality. And I think we have to try to find ways of being intentional, creating those light hearted human moments, right, where we're just, our guard is down. And that's kind of where we get to know like that I worked on m&a for four years at Cisco, we did 50 deals. I'm telling you, I had tons of info sessions and one on ones. But the best stuff I ever had was, I'm in the break room making a coffee. And some guy approached me, Hey, I didn't want to bring this up in the question answer session is kind of personal. But my son's on chemo and your medical plans. He's my doctors not on that plan. Like what's going to happen? I was like, Oh, thank you, right. And that informal moment provided or, you know, you leave a meeting and you're little like that person, you know, caught was a little frosty towards me. What was that all about? I don't want to put him on the spot. But I don't necessarily today have that moment to sort of say, hey, what was up with that? Like, did you get up the wrong side of the bed today? And that, you know, all the studies says the best and highest performing teams have two main components, high degrees of trust, and psychological safety. And I think we're at the early phases right now in this new world of work where we've, you know, heavy reliance on technology. So I don't know that I have the right combo. Right. But I think it's going to take some experimentation from us in some intentional designing these informal opportunities for people, and I hope it can be better than there was before.Kyle Roed:
Yeah, I think that the key word I really liked, that you focused on was, you know, that intentionality, right, it's somehow we have to replace it. And I don't know, there's these, you know, kind of these raging debates online, and there's all these headlines about the CEOs who are like, everybody's coming back. And if you don't like working in the office, too bad, you know, then we just won't hire those people. And I think that, I guess my opinion is a little bit more middle of the road here. You know, my perspective is I think, I don't think this is this isn't a binary black or white, like, the new world of work is this and the old world of work was that I think what I'm hearing is people just want, they want to retain some of this. Some of this was good, not all of it. But there are some individuals who are like, you know, what, I don't mind going back to the office here and there. But do I really need this sit in traffic five days a week and burn 10 hours of my week, sitting in a commute? Probably not. Right. And, you know, I just think that organizations that are focused more on kind of that flexibility are going to be better off that those are that are not. And I guess that's been my approach to it. Yeah, but I'll be honest, I don't have the answer. ISteve Cadigan:
yeah. And Kyle, you know, you are, that is a beautiful thing that you just said that I don't have all the answers. And I think more organizations should say that. So I have lost count, or the organizations that have brought me in, in the last six months said, Steve, tell us what is what is the best practice? Is it fully stay fully remote? Is it hybrid? Is it go back to the office? And I said, and I'm sort of going to re characterize exactly what you said, because I think I'm on the same page as you which is I said, the best practice right now is experimentation. The best practices, pockets of your organization will be well served to be at home all the time, some will be served to do some iteration of hybrid. And by the way, there's a million iterations of what hybrid looks like, what days what hours, who's together, who's not, what days, the week, and how you want to work that. And the best way to navigate this is to try some things out, learn, experiment, adjust, get the feedback, tweak it do something different, until you find your what thing is going to work and just like you know, we are organic species, and we're always changing and organizations are always changing. That's why I'm like how can you say your culture is always gonna be the same. It's never the same, because the people are always changing. So we have to evolve. And I think this moment of adaptability is going to hopefully serve us all well, plus we've all had to get to know each other on a more personal level because we've all had personal circumstances drive our ability to focus or D focus us whether we're worried about an elder person whose immunities come from Or kids, educational challenges, or schools, inability to adapt, or schools who are adapting, or what kind of Wi Fi we have at home. I worked from home for eight years, but I was never the short order cook for my kids three meals a day, while I'm on a webinar getting text saying, hey, when are you going to be done with that stupid webinar? So you can cook me some food? You know, that was a little bit new. And so. So we've all had to do that. But I do I resonate with what you're saying. And there is we don't know how it's gonna play out. There's no MBA major in managing remotely from managing in person for decades. Right? And we don't really know. But I think I have to believe some people have discovered they can create value better for themselves, they have more job satisfaction. There was a an interesting study that just was published a couple of weeks ago, that a Gallup measures engagement. What they did was they found that people, even people who are working from home who've never worked in person, right? This whole growing new generation, I started with your company, but I've never met anyone face to face. And I've never been in an office. Those people were more engaged than people who've been working in the office or working from home. So like, what are you engaged with? Because you've never been a part of it? I find that was just so fascinating from a philosophical perspective, right that. And so I think what the study was saying was, I'm more in control of my work time, and that is meaningful to me, therefore, I'm more engaged, right? And it's the simple things like you said, I want to go get a haircut enough to fight for a Saturday appointment, I want to do my grocery shop and get my nails done, whatever. not fighting on the weekends, you know, like, I don't want to give that up. You know, I don't want to give up not commuting and sitting in traffic. I mean, I will tell you, I did a two year assignment in Asia. And I went from a 3045 minute commute twice a day, to a five minute cab ride. And I hated the five minute cab ride. Because a little bit of a commute to my detox my time. No one's crying, no kids are there, no spouse is going, Hey, what do you know, no boss is there. And I missed that little bit of, you know, sort of either get ready for work or sort of think through what I'm going to do the next day at the office. And that was a real interesting experience. Like the five minute cab ride was too short for me. And I wanted my little locker room on wheels, you know, to go back to, but it forced me to sort of appreciate a different model. Right.Kyle Roed:
Yeah, that's a really great observation. You know, what I think I've just reflecting on the the comment that you made. And I think the other word that I really liked that you use was it's you know, it's it's more about community, then it community and connectedness, I think is what I what I heard, or at least internalized from what you just said, and I think, you know, and an interesting, this is anecdotal, but if I reflect back on my organization, specifically, you know, I mentioned where we're International, we're more connected as a group, as a holistic organization than we would have ever hoped to have been back in 2019, because we had that catalyst. And because we were forced to do that to deal with a global pandemic. And then and now, some of that stuff stuck, right. And even though we're not all in the same place, we are definitely on the same page, and definitely much closer as a team and as a kind of a community of people dealing with kind of the same stuff, even though we're in different parts of the world. And so I think the other thing that I think is really interesting is, and you mentioned you've been working from home for a while, is, you know, there are ways to do this. We just haven't had to do it on a broad scale. Until last year, right? And so, so it's, it's not a completely foreign practice, but it takes change, right? And it's not easy, right? And every all most organizations have a sales force that's always been working remotely.Steve Cadigan:
So you already have, right, a group that's figured that out, right? We do have companies that have been founded from being remote until, you know, hitting scale. But I really like what you said, which is, I'm going to use words that you didn't use. But to try to bring context what you just said, we just have had a shared experience that our generation really hasn't had before. Maybe in America, you could say 911 was a shared experience. You know, rekindling patriotism, re killing, we're on the same team. I'd like to say that this pandemic is bringing us closer, I don't know, because we are a very fractured culture in this country politically, more than ever before and the George Floyd, you know, challenges with different points of view on racism and gender equality and so forth. But I will say, and I was just having conversation with some friends on this the other day that they're super excited. They're their talent leaders like you and I. And what they're seeing the pandemic do is bridge generational differences in their organizations that they hadn't seen before. Because of the shared experience of the pandemic, and going through her stuff and more seasoned people with gray hair like me, were mentoring some of the younger talent on Hey, this is not something I mean, yeah, it's hard. But we've been through hard stuff before. And and here's some ideas, you know. So, like you say, I hope that we're going to come out the other end of this feeling more connected in having more resolve. And that's going to give us energy to build better, you know, rebuild that, right?Kyle Roed:
Yeah. Yeah. And I distinctly remember, you know, if anything else in the middle of the pandemic, at one point, I was on a call. Everybody had a beard. So they all had something to tie them together. So we all have, we have something in there like hockey playoff beard, or what was that? Yeah. Yeah, basically, yes. Yeah. Yeah. COVID beard. All right, we're gonna shift gears here. We're coming towards the end of our time, and I want to make sure I'm really fascinated to get your responses to the rebel HR flash round. So three quick questions. And we'll go ahead and get started. So question number one, what is your favorite people book?Steve Cadigan:
Favorite people book? Probably, there's a bunch of them. But I probably would say the hard thing about hard things by Ben Horowitz. Ben is an entrepreneur. He's a venture capital investor. And his whole book is about the stories of people and challenges in growing a business and it just super relatable. So enjoy that one a lot.Kyle Roed:
All right, perfect. I have not read that. So that is definitely on my list. Alright, question number two, Who should we be listening to?Steve Cadigan:
Who should be listened to probably two people come to mind right now? Tim Ferriss, super interesting for me. Malcolm Gladwell, his podcast, and his audibles are off the charts. Good. If there's someone who can gets me to think about something differently to him, and I really just enjoy it. Particularly he wrote a book. It's not one of his current ones. But he wrote a book years ago called the tipping point. And the tipping point is about change. And if you think about any job in the world is changing something. And what better skill could you develop this skill to be better change? And that was just a big book for me. Yeah.Kyle Roed:
All right. Awesome. Yeah. ton of great content. I mean, it's young. I agree. Okay. Last question. toughest one, how can our listeners connect with you?Steve Cadigan:
You can connect with me many ways. Please connect with me on LinkedIn. Find my posts on Tick tock, I have hundreds of posts on Tick Tock. And they're funny stories. I have a whole story, a series of stories called True Stories from corporate America, which every HR person has, I know, you all have them. I've tried to tell them in very politically correct ways. But it's a Steve cadigan is my Tiktok. And then my website, Steve Kennedy, calm and again, super, super excited to be what I call a recovering human resource professional, talking about the future work with workweek. And I think if you like any of the stuff we talked about, you're gonna like, you're gonna like my book a lot. And I really hope you pick up a copy and one for all of the people that you know. Absolutely.Kyle Roed:
Yeah. And you know what, you keep making comments about the gray hair, but I don't have Tick Tock so you know, you're heavy on that. Oh, my wife loves it. She's, you know, be late at night and shoot, and suddenly I'll hear this blasting music in my ear and she'll wake me up and she's watching laughing at Tick tock,Steve Cadigan:
you know, your partner's watching Tick Tock. When you hear the music like, Oh, no, oh, no, no, no. There's a bunch of refrains that they have was something really amazing happened this weekend. I don't know if this is true. But there's a firm called app Annie that tracks web usage. And they said this week, tick tock viewers exceeded YouTube viewers, you can believe that. Wow. It's really it's a force to be reckoned with. And I was shocked. Cos shocked how many people watch my stuff. I thought, I'm not lip synching. I'm not dancing. I'm given serious, mostly serious stuff. And some funny stories, too. But they're true stories. And people are eating it up. So it's pretty cool. It's fun.Kyle Roed:
All right. I'll check it out. Sounds good. All right. I was first million on LinkedIn. Definitely not first million on on Tick Tock with that. Well, thank you so much, Steve. Just absolutely wonderful content. It's been wonderful connecting with you. And just for our listeners. Again, the book is work quake, embracing the aftershocks of COVID-19 to create a better model of working and we'll have links to all that in the show notes. And yeah, I just appreciate you putting down all of your experience and thoughts into a place that we can access it. SoSteve Cadigan:
thanks, Carl. Thanks for having me. And thank you for getting out the word like you know, the future work and helping people navigate the future. So more power to you guys.Kyle Roed:
Thanks. Have a great one. All right. That does it for the rebel HR podcast. big thank you to our guests. Follow us on Facebook at rebel HR podcast, Twitter. At rebel HR guy, or see our website at rebel human resources.com. The views and opinions expressed by rebel HR podcast are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any of the organizations that we represent. No animals were harmed during the filming of this podcast. Maybe