Category Archives: Branding

Don’t P*** On My Leg

…then tell me it’s raining.

Familiar with this one? I can remember the first time I heard this expression – my high school baseball Coach decided we all needed a proper ripping, and as he was expressing his displeasure, one of my teammates offered an excuse. 

Oh dear.

So, Coach walks up to him with a cup of water, starts pouring it on his own leg and utters the line, “Don’t p*** on my leg then tell me it’s raining.” Crude, yes. Brilliant? Definitely. Because, try as we might to rationalize something, from an external perspective it still looks like the same thing – excuses.

Which brings us to Glassdoor.

It’s vexing, really. We’re not talking about CafePharma or an equally ridiculous flame-board. Yet a perception of fearing Glassdoor persists today. When speaking with clients, prospective clients, or colleagues, there is still an uneasy feeling of dread in the feelings of corporate leaders. Before I speak with a prospective client or employer, I’ll go onto Glassdoor to check them out, and I’m continually amazed at how few of them have made the commitment to manage their respective brand/reputation.  But let’s face it, management-types have a long history of being uncomfortable with sites like, because of all those disgruntled ex-employees just waiting to pounce. “We’re a conservative organization.” At least that’s what they’re telling you.

Guess what? They’re p***ing on your leg.

The reason? Fear of losing control. But more likely, it’s a matter of being fearful of the unknown. So they default to the easy choice. It’s akin to having your finger on the chicken-switch; that which appears to be an exposure equals a “risk,” and we all know how leaders hate to take risks. Risks are too….risky.

In the last month, I’ve met with numerous companies as I start mapping out my business planning for 2016. Almost universally, the participation in Glassdoor (and or others of the ilk) was completely in a defensive (if at all) position, relying on others to define their reputation. We’ve discussed this before, it’s the “protection vs. projection” mindset.

But some people in our industry have figured out a way to breakthrough corporate uneasiness. I had a discussion with Bryan Rice, Director of Talent Acquisition for Stryker. Somehow, Bryan managed to navigate the conservative nature of a corporate structure with a “Talent Ambassador” program. Instead of a hide and hope philosophy, Rice’s program set an expectation that employees would actively participate in Glassdoor. No scripts, no pre-written “atta boys,” just an explanation of the importance of having a presence; “Candidates expect to be able to go to Glassdoor and figure out what it’s like to work at our company.” Realize that invites positive and negative reviews to be input, which could equate to some risk. But you’ve also changed the collective mindset to one of an unafraid, transparent, confident company. And the results have been somewhat staggering; brand recognition, page views, applicants, reviews, CEO rating – the metrics are crazy good, but it took someone championing the effort, fully aware that it may even come with a few hiccups along the way.

So how do you change the lens and view these types of sites as an opportunity to use the reputation/rating sites to manage employment brand, to connect with candidates, and to make better hires?

Let’s start with the September version of the FOT Webinar entitled, Top 10 Ways To Use Glassdoor For Good (Not Evil). Join Kris Dunn and Tim Sackett (yeah, we’re bringing out the “A” Team) from Fistful of Talent on 9/17 at 2pm Eastern, and we’ll hit you with the following:

– How the the yelp-ification of America is changing the way employees and candidates think about job search and employer brands.

– The 5 Biggest Myths about company reputation sites like Glassdoor. 

– Last but not least, you’ll get a 10-step playbook on how to engage on reputation sites and become more of a Marketer as an HR/Recruiting Pro.

“Nothing to see here.”

The alternative is to keep your corporate head in the sand while others define who “you” are. Wouldn’t you rather be the one that brought those fears into the sunlight?

Might sound like the strangest advice you ever received, but quit letting them p*** on your leg.

(FOT Note: Glassdoor is sponsoring this FOT webinar. We’re happy to have them as a sponsor and, true to their commitment to transparency, they’re letting us talk about the myths and a lot of other realities HR and Recruiting pros have experienced related to Glassdoor—without restriction. That type of balance makes them a great partner.  Join us and we promise you’ll get a balanced view—no sales pitch—as well as an insider’s guide to how to use sites like Glassdoor to become a better marketer as an HR/Recruiting pro.)

Hit this link to register today!


Special Sauce

One of my prouder childhood achievements was beating the 30-second BigMac “challenge” as a 9-year old in desperate need of a promotional “Hamburglar” glass.

Dad took me into the local McDonald’s, I took a few calming breaths, then wove a tapestry of hamburger ingredients so seamlessly that it was if I was on autopilot…“twoallbeefpattiesspecialsaucelettucecheesepicklesonionsonasesameseedbun…” 4.3 seconds, gents. I can’t even explain it to you, I was just in the zone.

eBay says $10.99, I say priceless

eBay says $10.99, I say priceless

Or something like that.

That’s a long preamble to my original thought when drafting this post–the concept of “special sauce.” Back in the day, the Big Mac’s claim to fame was the Special Sauce. They even kept the recipe “secret” to add to the illusion that this was a key differentiator no one else could replicate. It took me years to get the right combination of Thousand Island and Ketchup to crack the code.

But I digress.

It’s an interesting time in the recruiting world, as I’m sure you’ve noticed from the candidate and recruiting perspective. On the majority of the positions I manage, there are at least a handful of very strong candidates.

So now, “Special sauce” is the gist of my favorite line of interviewing. And here’s why:

– Ask someone about their greatest “strengths,” and you can count on the grocery list of rehearsed answers to which we’ve become accustomed. “I’m a people person.” “I’m a multi-tasker.” Blecch.

– Ask someone about their “special sauce” and you get a much more personal, original, and spontaneous response.

Is this ground-breaking? Nah, it’s trivial in the great scheme of things. But trivial is sometimes the medicine for a stale interview. Knock down a wall of formality, get conversational, lose the script and have a little fun.

Btw, my special sauce? Easy. Give me 10 minutes and I can make anybody laugh.

What about you?



Baby Got Back

What about your back-end?

Excuse ME????!?

No, not that back-end, I’m talking marketing life-cycle back-end. Think in terms of your product and services – how do you continue to promote and differentiate a brand that is way past the honeymoon stage?  What is your strategy for keeping a brand profitable in the mature stage?

What if your “product” is you?

When independent consultants break off into their first venture (present company included) we are constantly defining and refining our message. It’s become rote to realize that a “brand” is critical when you are attempting to establish yourself in a crowded marketplace. “What’s your elevator pitch?” “What’s your 3-word personal brand?”, etc. – we hear it constantly, and in turn we spend a lot of time innovating, creating, simplifying, and testing our story.

Well, how about those of us who are a little saltier? When was the last time you/we seriously explored the need to breathe new life in our brand message?

Use the pharmaceutical industry as a model for the importance of “mature brand strategies.”  For every successful drug, patents expire. As the pipeline for new products starts to dry up, it becomes even more critical to keep the “back end” strong for the existing portfolio: strategic pricing, brand loyalty programs, repackaging, new market penetration, product re-positioning, taste enhancements, dosing changes ~ there’s a lot of ways to skin this cat.

So how about you? Are you a “mature” product? Might be time to work on that back end.