Inspiration, Move Me Brightly – A Tale of #SourceCon

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Nov 3, 2017

I am still on a SourceCon high! I know it is more than a few weeks later. I like to make the good feels last as long as they can. The last time I felt this positive after coming back from a three day event was March 28-30, 1990. I had just seen the Grateful Dead three nights in a row at Nassau Coliseum. On March 29th, they played what is considered to be one of their finest concerts ever, with special guest star Branford Marsalis. Hey, you can listen to it here if you don’t believe me. I cannot say SourceCon topped that, but it came close.

It was an amazing experience on a personal level.  I made so many new friends. I met friends I had never met in person. I got to see old friends I haven’t seen in some time, often in years. Plus, they got to see all the weight I lost, which is 45 pounds. If you asked why I mentioned that here, its because I mention it everywhere I can.

It was equally wonderful adventure on a professional level. The sheer volume of information I absorbed was enough to fill a large NoSQL database. Shoot, I made a technical sourcer joke there, but don’t let it color your perception that this is a conference for tech recruiters only. I met some amazing people, often from industries, I didn’t even know had sourcers. Tangie Pettis is involved with Dentist Placements. I didn’t even know that was a thing. Despite how lovely Pettis is, I still hate the dentist. That is an entirely different blog post, though. You could tell that she is a member of our “tribe.” She is a sourcer, and she is a recruiter. It doesn’t matter what it is for; I’d feel comfy asking Tangie to help fill any requirement.

Cindy Turley, Maisha L. Cannon, Erica Larson, and Donato Diorio were among the many people I met, who had nothing to do with engineering sourcing. Each one of them helped teach me something new I could try in sourcing, or just gave great conversation!

I had a whole other paragraph here just dropping names for five-plus lines of all the people whose blogs I read, who I have written posts with, who I call when I need advice, I think you get the point. If you’re into the whole sourcing/recruiting thing, this was like that Rock and Roll camp taught by Rock Stars. You get it. FWIW, I guess my Rob Halford is Steve Levy.

The line between friends and contacts, between networking and partying, has always been a very thin one. The opportunities to meet peers, to gather new knowledge and to just enjoy interacting with my brothers and sisters in this business are unparalleled.

When I got home and had a few days to absorb the event, I realized what made me the happiest, though.

“The Ecstasy of Perfect Recognition”

I am stealing that line from Stephen King. If I recall correctly, though, he said he took it from his high school English teacher. Since we all take people from each other’s companies, I figure you’ll be OK with my borrowing.

I became a Deadhead in the year 1987. I was 12 years old and had been “turned on” by a summer camp counselor. I wore Grateful Dead Shirts. I bought the vinyl albums. I read books about them. I talked about Jerry Garcia, I breathed Bob Weir, and I lived Phil Lesh. The only place I ever felt among my peers, among my brothers and sisters, was at a Grateful Dead show. High School in 1989 was not a Head’s paradise.

As the diamond that is adult me forged itself from the coal of childhood, more facets showed. There were more places that I fit in. As a worker bee, as a cog in the machinery of the HR world, well, those places were not easily found. Lunch with Levy, a year or two working with Martin Burns, or just reading a Matt Charney, Derek Zeller or Katrina Kibben blog posts were good. They kept me sane when how I saw “sourcing” was not always how others perceived it. When my style was criticized, or my emails picked apart for not toeing the line.

Then I went to SourceCon Austin 2017. I achieved that ecstasy when I realized that I was surrounded by those who got my struggles. Those who understood the frustration of a hire that doesn’t happen. The pain of telling a candidate that you loved, “Sorry, you sh*t the bed.” The huge pile of specs and little time. The feeling you get when you made 47 hires in 2016. Your boss says “Man, your first and second quarter make me wonder if you’ll be employed the third quarter of 2017”.

I can talk about our shared joys, but defeat is an orphan. Victory has a 1000 Fathers. The defeats and suffering are where I needed the shared feelings and validations. The joy of a unique email or a million dollar hire (or a one in a million placement), those are easy to get.

The struggles not as much.

I spent three days with those who got it. All the things I learned, all the people I spoke with and even the session I led all pale in comparison to the feeling that I wasn’t as alone as I thought, that I was echoed in my view of sourcing by the greats and those of us hovering in the middle.

It feels good to know you’re part of something more significant, that your tribe is out there. Your brothers and sisters are sharing your joys and pain that we call “sourcing.”

Man, what a Long Strange Trip this career can be.