Solving SourceCon 2010 Challenge #2

Jan 8, 2010
This article is part of a series called Q/A.

Big congrats go out to all of you who participated in our second challenge. This one was a toughy, but we have a winner to announce.

And the winner of Challenge #2 is….

The Sourceress aka Katharine Robinson!

A little bit about Katharine:

Katharine started sourcing in April 2008. She is primarily an Internet Sourcer; to date she has mainly worked on sourcing senior and technical professionals in the energy industry. Katharine is evangelical about the use of Social Media in recruitment and sourcing. Her ambitions include attending SourceCon and helping sourcing to become a common profession in the UK. When she’s not sourcing, Katharine likes watching Star Trek, drinking tea, eating cheese and attending tweetups.

We have never seen such a photo finish in a contest before. So many talented people made for an exciting race and awesome competition this time. Honorable mentions go out to both Shannon Myers and Irina Shamaeva who both solved the challenge just for fun! Talk about dedicated sourcers, all of them.

Read on to see how Katharine solved the challenge. Come meet her at SourceCon in March to hear about it first hand.

Congratulations on a job well done. The competition will be fierce this year at the GrandMaster Sourcing Challenge in San Diego in March.

From the beginning it was clear that this challenge wasn’t going to be the same as the others. For a start, it looked like it belonged with the internet, not in the worn briefcase of a spy from the 1960’s.

The initial clue wasn’t the key either. Essentially it told me that I was looking for someone called Sue and that I should follow the link to a Survey Monkey Page. Always keen to be making some kind of progress, I didn’t linger long on the first clue. Although I did save the image to my desktop so that I could open up, zoom in and read it a little better.

Arriving at Survey Monkey, the first thing I noticed was a picture of a fish and The Village People. Whoever had put this challenge together must have a sense of humour. Again it was reiterated that I was ultimately looking for one recruiter called Sue but I would have to find five names in total.

Video Killed The Radio Star

It was quite refreshing to actually be told I was looking for a video. Quite different than the previous challenges. I did feel a little frustrated to begin with though. Surly those that had been on the US recruitment conference circuit for the last few years would have a distinct advantage over a relative newbie from the UK. After a few hours of poking about on YouTube and trying to mine conference websites for videos, I decided to click through to the next page on the survey, after all  there wasn’t anything to stop me.

I was greeted by the questions I would have to fill in once I found the video and also a picture of a man I didn’t recognise, and I still don’t know who he is even now (I hope that doesn’t offend anyone). The picture caption asked if he was the man behind the conference. I thought it might help if I found out who he was. I did manage to find another picture of him in a google image search, but it didn’t help – the page it came from on seemed to no longer exist.

I decided to systematically go through all the names in the multiple choice section below, he might be one of those. I first eliminated all the women and then all the male names that I recognised and knew what they looked like. I started plugging their names into search engines. I was lucky as the first name I entered – Alan Lee – was one of the names in the notes on the video I was looking for. The Video came up on a Google search under “Video Results for Alan Lee”. The moment I clicked through I knew it must be the right video. The word REALLY was capitalised in the description. The video was titled “A brief moment inside the head of Jason Davis…” The clue had told me to take a brief moment, and the video ticked all the other boxes. I watched it end to end and filled out the answers to the questions as I went. I was utterly amazed that I had managed to find it. It just goes to show that a systematic approach is worth as much as any moment of inspiration.

While looking through the names in the last two questions I had noticed that there were some inconsistencies in the lists. Most notably that the top list has some additional names that were derivatives of ‘Sue’, I only recognised one – Suzi Tonini – but as I was looking for real people at this stage, I couldn’t rule any of them out. Any of the seven names could be the one I was looking for – or they could all be red herrings. I wrote the names down and carried on…

Pandora’s Box Discovered

I probably spent the most time on this clue. I was put off from clicking through to the next page by the ominous warning in the rhyme. I got really hung up on the list of strange objects. Was it some kind of code? Was it something to do with the rhyme about girls and boys? Did none of these things really exist? I shouldn’t have been so afraid to click through as I solved it fairly quickly once I did. Talking to @Sourcecon1 on Twitter on Sunday evening (for me he came online at 6pm GMT) gave me the confidence to just click through and see what I found. Of course, it was the questions that I would have to answer. Very helpful.

@Sourcecon1 had also made me think that the ‘geek’ element of the person I was looking for was important. I started to search with keywords like Geek, Sourcer and Recruiter. I found a couple but none seemed to fit the bill.

It was only when I included the phrase “development alliance” (from the page with the questions on) that I got somewhere. I had found a result from the SourceCon website that had been picked up on Dave Copps’ pipl profile. It mentioned his company PureDiscovery forming an alliance with somone else. I had noted on the previous page that only someone whose research was pure would discover what was really inside the box.

I went in search of PureDiscovery. Their website was enough to convince me I had hit the nail on the head with references to ‘The Manifesto’ and ‘collective intelligence’. I also found an article on the alliance titled “LexisNexis opens the black box with powerful semantic search technology”. I had it!

Finding Dave’s profile on ZoomInfo seemed unduly difficult though. The profile was under the name ‘Mr Dave Copps’, but why that made it so tricky to find, I’ll never know.

When I clicked through to the next clue I went straight to the questions – thank goodness there was to be no cryptic nonsence this time. I was asked about a Sourcer’s Apprentice. I had seen something like this already in my travels… Could it really be that easy?

The Sourcer’s Apprentice

Of course not!

Spurred on by the thought that I might solve this one easily, I kept plugging away rather than go to bed. It wasn’t like I had to be up early Monday morning now that I work freelance. I had seen something about a sourcer’s apprentice before, but i couldn’t make it relate to the questions. I had found a lady called Teresa Bustamante, a cybersleuth apprentice of Shally Steckerl. I would go on to find a man called Bret Hollander via Jim Stroud’s History of Sourcing document on Scribd. Shally described himself as Bret’s apprentice. None seemed to fit the bill though. I went back to the questions.

I spent ages looking through various people’s pipl profiles trying to find one that had even made a recent video. Even when I found the right one, it wasn’t on her pipl profile.

If I’m perfectly honest, I don’t know how I found Marie Journey’s interview on I did though and the first question I answerd for this clue was the last one on the page. I worked my way up from the bottom.

I originally thought that the video about predictions was made by the Sourcer, not the apprentice. So I tried to enter the time of Jim Stroud’s video made for Bill Boorman’s HR Carnival. That didn’t work. I looked to see if Marie had also done a video for Bill, but he hadn’t posted one from her. It was only when I checked out her YouTube channel that I realised she had made one, it just hadn’t gone up on Bill’s blog yet.

Another one down and now I seemed to be onto the final leg.

I went to bed, not having the energy to think about the gigantic Microsoft Word logo and all the other strange pictures.

I then spent all the next day looking for someone named Sue that had been serenaded or sent flowers. Plugging all the Sues I had found on the first clue into Pipl and getting nowhere. Looking for cakes in the shape of a roast hog (lots more people make these than I would have thought – seriously weird!). I thought about rain, the only place I know that it rains all the time is Seattle (thanks to watching so many Frasier reruns on Comedy Central) … and England!

I got frustrated and a bit bored. I was getting nowhere. I waited for @SourceCon1 to start tweeting again. He talked about Yankee doodle, I was utterly confused, I’d seen nothing like this. Was he having us all on? Trying to confuse us? I got nowhere on Monday at all.

On Tuesday I got up and returned to staring at the giant Word logo.

At some point I decided to flick back through and look at the wording about Sue on the first page. On my way back through the challenge, there were new pages…

Yankee Doodle

I expressed my initial distaste at finding extra pages on Twitter. I felt like I had wasted a day and a half. Once I got over it though, I managed to knuckle down and get sourcing.

There was such a blatant reference to ERE Expo in the clue that I went straight to Dave Manaster’s LinkedIn profile to see where he went to University. Binghamton – that could not be wrong. I couldn’t find a blog post by Dave that mentioned the challenges of finding seasonal workers though.

I went back to google and started to look for that again. I came across a post by Alan Whitford of RCEURO – it had to be the right one, one of the pictures in the post was the same as one tweeted be @Sourcecon1 the evening before. I went to Alan’s LinkedIn profile to check where he had studied. Binghamton! Alan was my man!

When I clicked on through the survey I discovered that there had been more pictorial and cryptic clues for finding Marie Journey. I don’t think they would have helped me find her any quicker, she had been the easiest part of the puzzle for me.

I was now back at the last hurdle and looking for Sue…

To Market, To Market

So, Marie Journey was one degree away from Sue. I invited Marie to connect on LinkedIn, I thought I might be able to spot Sue in her connections.

I started to plug Marie’s name into searches along with the surnames of the Sues I had found on the first clue. That’s how I found Susan Pike’s profile on It was definitely her. The information was too perfect – she was clearly a made up person. I had my five names – but where should I email them to? I sent a friend request to the fictitious Susan Pike and then went back to the first clue. It was Sourcecon Dude that needed the info, he was the one that had forgotten Sue’s surname. I sent my 5 names to the email addressed on the first clue and went to cook some dinner.

At 6pm @Sourcecon1 tweeted that the names needed to be emailed to Sue, not to the email addresses in the first clue. I frantically started trying to track Sue down elsewhere. She wasn’t on Linkedin! WordPress had to be the key – that was what the Word logo and the printing press was all about – Sue even mentioned it in her profile. I tried x-raying wordpress for Sue’s name and her company name with no success. I searched through WordPress itself, nothing there either. I thought I was going mad. I went back to Sue’s profile on There she listed recommended blogs, including her own (pikemarket). I typed into my browser and there it was – Sue’s blog! I clicked through to her About page and there was the email address. I quickly copied the email I had already sent to the wrong email address.

Then all I had to do was wait…

I’d like to thank:

  • Lisa Offutt – she was very sweet and supportive on twitter when I had a tantrum about finding extra pages in the survey
  • Amybeth Hale for introducing me to SourceCon in the first place
  • Geoff Webb for giving me such great encouragement when we met at #TRULondon back in November
  • and my husband for putting up with my SourceCon-Insanity!
This article is part of a series called Q/A.
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