It’s the Sunshine Summer Solstice #HRCarnival!

It’s midsummer. Whether you’re celebrating, ignoring or just happy that we’ve got as much daylight as we’re going to get in a day this year, the HR Carnival has rolled into Town and it’s my pleasure to be your host.

For us in the UK this part of the calendar usually means RRRAAAWWWKKK at Glastonbury or strawberries and cream at Wimbledon, whilst across the pond a fair few readers will be jetting off to the Sunshine State and SHRM National in Orlando.

For those heading that way make sure you check out the first carnival post from Dwane Lay on The Big Lebowski tribute that will be helping to raise money for the very worthy No Kid Hungry campaign. Hope to see many of you taking part.

No doubt a lot there (and here for that matter) will be thinking about the HR profession and why they go into it. In which case this post from Will Thomson, writing on the Blogging4Jobs site, is a must read.

If you want to chat this over with a few others then you’d better make sure you learn your ‘Mench‘! Don’t know what I mean? Then let Dorothy Dalton’s blog enlighten you on the pitfalls of over-communication.

And talking of communication, will you be using your mobile? Anita Lettink’s post makes some observations about HR delivery and the emerging workforce.

There are many times when we need to be thankful for what we’ve got. In this very personal blog Jeff Harmon reflects on something that happened to him last year, and what he’s learned from it in 2014 so far.

Well that kind of rounds up the Carnival entries – not a lot to share this time round – so I thought I would add in 3 posts that have really got me thinking over the last couple of days. Hope they resonate with you.

Firstly Perry Timms writes it as he thinks it in a look at the ‘Soundbite City’ we inhabit. Who needs Pharrell when you’ve got some early Joe Tex.

Then top blogger FlipChart Rick looks at big vs small and concludes that small may not be that powerful after all, unless…well, I’ll let you read it.

And finally my old boss Felix Wetzel asks if the folks in Silicon Valley are spreading socialism and anarchy around the world in ‘Anarchy in the USA’.

Hope you enjoy the Carnival, and remember that sun protection cream if you decide to read it on your deckchair 🙂

(image via English Heritage)


My Top 6 Albums of 2013…So Far

I’m just back from a week’s holiday during which time I’ve listened to a lot of music. With the next HR Carnival being hosted by Matt Stollack, a man who once named a series of blogs after New Order songs, it seems like a good opportunity to take the old #HRMusicShare hashtag into the blogosphere. After all, he’s left the theme open 🙂

I’ve always been an album person. One of my biggest interview gaffes was to tell the interviewer that iPods were for people who didn’t like music. (Turns out she was very keen on her iPod). My rationale was that they mostly seemed to be used for playlists and shuffle songs…an anathema to an album ‘purist’ such as myself 😉 Times change and I have my own iPod now.

The album format has always appealed to me more for solo listening than random songs as I find them a more complete work – the collection may or may not have a theme, there is almost certainly a reason why the songs have been sequenced in a certain way, there is often a range of styles and playing – are just some of the reasons. And unlike an individual track, an album usually has to be listened to many times to make sense…an investment of time that can bring its own rewards.

So here are my favourite 6 from the first half of 2013…in no particular order. The tracks I’ve used for each one aren’t necessarily my favourites from that album but are illustrative of the type of music therein…

Unknown Mortal Orchestra – II

Not really an orchestra, but 3 US/NZ chilled, psychedelic troubadours. Lovely guitars, simple themes with fuzzy, melodic twists give this a laid back, blissful feel. There’s space, and there are beats, some good 60s vibes, even a Sly Stone feel on a couple of tracks.

These New Puritans – Field of Reeds

Probably the name on this list that most readers would never have heard of, so I’ll describe them a bit. They are a labour of love for two 25 year old maverick twin brothers from Southend and almost impossible to characterise as their music is often more soundscape than recognisable songs. (Think Talk Talk’s final two albums, some spacier Miles Davies moments, a touch of Steve Reich and Aphex Twin). On stage they comprise bass, keyboards, synthesiser, trumpet, trombone, 2 drummers and either a fado or jazz singer – on record they are supplemented with orchestral strings and woodwind (particularly bassoon). Vocals are part spoken, part mumbled and part sung atonally…somehow combining with the (often dissonant) music to create eerie, evocative melodies.

Their previous album (Hidden) was more accessible, with the songs usually driven along by militaristic drum patterns. This album is more complex to fully appreciate.

Laura Marling – Once I Was an Eagle

Incredibly accomplished and mature fourth album from a rapidly developing folk artist, who is still only 23! The opening 16 minutes, in which the first 4 songs fit seamlessly together as one magical piece, are her best moments to date…with a further 12 songs showing a lyrical depth (there’s a lot of soul baring here) and musical diversity from which it’s easy to believe that she may yet develop in to her generation’s Joni.

Matthew E White – Big Inner

An uplifting country/soul/gospel mix from a new, breakthrough artist (although he’s 30 and has already founded a record label and worked with a number of musicians), combining powerful yet understated (at times almost whispered) vocals with a strong emotional and spiritual punch. The album uses over 30 musicians, including a horn section, string section and 10 person choir. I love this warm, powerful and intoxicating mix.

Vampire Weekend – Modern Vampires of the City

I wasn’t sure about this band at first. Maybe I got influenced by the online commentary about their Ivy League, preppy origins, but I’ll own up to finding their knowing riff pilfering and name checking more than a little contrived both on record and the one time I saw them live. A kind of Strokes gone afrobeat.

Not so on this third album though. It’s mature, intelligent, literate, exuberant, fun pop music that’s a lot more about modern living than having a hip record collection. More varied influences too – with track 3 owing more than a little to Whiter Shade of Pale.

Queens of The Stone Age – Like Clockwork

I was a big fan in the early days, with Josh Homme’s effortless cool particularly alluring when I saw them live. Recent years have seen me less enamoured, though something about this album reeled me in. Maybe it was having Dave Grohl back on drumming duties, with a diverse range of collaborators including Alex Turner, Trent Reznor, Jake Shears and Elton John (about time the queens had a real queen he’s alleged to have said). And maybe it was the early reviews alluding to a Bowie influence – with Mojo magazine even re-creating the Hunkydory album cover using Homme’s face instead of Bowie’s. Can’t really see it myself…though I acknowledge that Kalopsia’s stand out chorus is quite a close relative of Bewlay Brothers.

I’m glad I did investigate though. It’s a sexy, glammy, sleazy, funk and grind of a hard rock album with sharp guitars, sharp hooks and a real sense of fun…not to mention a title track ballad that’s crying out to be the next Bond film theme!

So there you have my fave albums of the year so far – why not share yours in the comments…or maybe blog about them…

The Community DJ and me

It’s time for another Carnival of HR and our host this time is Matthew Stollak, write of the excellent True Faith HR blog.

He set us a really cool challenge…rather than write a new blog, or share one we have recently written, he asked us choose our favourite ever blogpost. It could be the one that had the biggest impact, or the one that influenced us the most.

My choice is Community DJ posted by Paul Jacobs last year. Read it here.

I loved this post because it was simple and well written. The perfect blog. Three paragraphs…one to pose a question, the next to provide an answer, and the final one to explain why.

The answer wasn’t Paul’s but was suggested by a colleague, yet Paul bought this idea to life in a way that was easy to visualise. We all know what a DJ does, but the way he links this to the role of Community Manager made perfect sense.

It had a big impact on me because this was a role that I was trying to incorporate into my day to day recruiting routine. The term Community DJ made it easy to envisage how I could make it work.

If you’ve followed my own journey in recent months you’ll know that this role is now a full time one for me…and I still use the image of the DJ keeping things fresh, experimenting a bit, and creating an environment where people want to participate as a model for what I do.

Thanks to Paul for writing and Matthew for giving me the opportunity to explain why I like it!

The Carnival of HR – Digging the New Breed and Learning from Old Friends

It’s time for the Carnival of HR and I’m really honoured to have my first go at hosting!

The Carnival doesn’t often pitch its big top on this side of the pond, so I’ve taken to opportunity to introduce you to a whole host of UK HR Bloggers who may or may not be known to you. There’s some really great talent developing here  a real New Breed.

But I’m not biased! My buddies and old friends from the US and Australia have also come up trumps with some really strong and varied posts too. So read on…

Digging the New Breed….

Leading off  is Michael Carty (XpertHR) not least because he is also known as the politest man on Twitter so it would be rude not to! His economic commentaries are a must read for many of us and this March 2011 Edition is no exception

Emma P aka @onatrainagain has only been blogging a short while and has already built a big following with her very personal and honest style. This post is called What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Stronger

Alison Chisnell is our very own HR Juggler! How she also finds time to blog is beyond me, but she does! Always interesting, here she talks about New Experiences, Pyjama Parties and Comfort Zones

Katie Davis is the HR Hopeful and writes a newer blog called They’re Only Humans. she’s musing on the Pull of Community

Doug Shaw is the Johnny Cash of the #ConnectingHR community, with a guitar and a song at every tweetup and unconference! And he writes a blog called Stop Doing Dumb Things To Customers – how cool is that? In this post he even gives us a poem! Phantom HR

What can I tell you about Flip Chart Fairy Tales? Well, its written by an affable and knowledgeable beer expert called Rick and he writes an informative, well researched and extremely readable blog about politics and business. This post is about Confident Leadership in an Uncertain World

Ailsa Suttie is an HR Director who I’m sure only embraced Twitter and blogging to stop me nagging her to do so! She is about to move in to a CEO role in a new business venture, which may be why she’s called her blog HR Metamorphosis. She raises an interesting point in A Monopoly Does Not an Expert Make…

Some of you may already know Felix Wetzel. He’s charming, intelligent, insightful…OK, he hired me recently…what else am I going to say?! He does write a really interesting and thoughtful blog about people, brands, creativity and growth. In this post he writes about The Future of Work

Janet Parkinson has a background in social media, recruitment and personal branding. She brings a really fresh approach to her technology oriented blog Technotropolis, as you can read here in her post on Digital Nomads – The Rise of the Independent Worker Continue reading “The Carnival of HR – Digging the New Breed and Learning from Old Friends”