The Table; A SourceCon Story

The upcoming SourceCon in Austin is going to be the tenth anniversary for the team. A team that I can say that I am very proud to be part of and with a leader like Shannon to follow as she had some big shoes to fill with Jeremy’s exit. It has grown, just as the community has and it is wondrous, and I am so proud to be a continuing part of it and the growth we had. This #truestory I am penning is about not my first #SourceCon but the dinner before it and what it taught me about the people and the speakers that attend and how introverted or not you should suck the marrow out of this conference.

The OFCCP had just released the new rules that we are now facing daily, and I decided in my infancy of writing to blog about it.  Little did I know that it would lead me down the road that I am now on and to my first national speaking gig.  I am no stranger to public speaking, and honestly, I am not overly fond of it, but when Steve Rath emailed me and asked if I would be interested in speaking at the next event I could not help but go into a peanuts dance.  If you don’t get that reference its ok, you are young.

Peanuts Dancing GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

I cleared everything with my manager at the time and proceeded to fly to Atlanta to not only go to my very first #SourceCon but the beginning of many. When I got to Atlanta, it was magical, not many people say that about the ATL but for me I was so excited for the show, and the dinner. I was sent an invitation to a speaker’s dinner for the night before the show. It was at a fancy steak house across from the venue where the event was going to take place. When I walked in the restaurant, I was basically alone, and although I knew everyone, or at least everyone, I was nervous. These were people I had read, learned from online, mentors to me without them knowing it, or me, for that matter.

Let me set the scene for you; there were two tables as there were several speakers and some special guests like Gerry Crispin, the godfather of all things HR. I got there late, I am normally never late, but I knew who was going to be at the dinner, umm the lineup is online you know. I digress, when I got there the tables were full and few seats left available. I was hoping for an end seat so when I knew that inevitably when my snark would go too far that I had a quick getaway. Little did I know that I would never, ever want to leave that table.

There were some really big names there, and I did get an end seat right across from Glen Cathey. Glen was the man that taught me Boolean from his website Booleanblackbelt.com; he didn’t know that either.  I was such a fanboy and still am. The discussions were lively and mostly about sourcing, catching up, etc. I decided to join the fray and made some observations, and at this point, Gerry spoke up and said, “some very interesting points, Derek, what is your background?” My heart leaped, and I told them my story. You know what happened next? Of course, you don’t you weren’t there! They listened to me; they actually listened, yeah were supposed to do that you know. There were no polite phrases like, “Oh that’s nice” or “thanks for sharing.” They treated me as equal and then Gerry being Gerry said, “why is it I never heard of you, why have you been hiding? I feel like we need to chat a great deal more.” “I was not hiding,” I said, “I did not know this all really existed this sharing, this openness. I always thought every day I was a single gladiator entering the arena, alone. I now know I was wrong. Thank you for that.”

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We have you know. Many times, at conferences, on the phone, or just an occasional dinner when I was in New York City. In fact, I have become good friends with many of the people I met that night, and that will be speaking at SourceCon in Austin this coming September, and it could be the biggest one yet. I am excited to listen once again, learn, and share with my sourcing family and I sure hope you come too. It’s my birthday month and the best present I could think of is meeting you, the person I have not met before to expand my family and you thusly will get to expand yours as well.

See you there? I sure hope so!

#zellerout

Derek Zeller draws from over 20 years in the recruiting industry. The last 16 years he has been involved with federal government recruiting specializing in the cleared IT space under OFCCP compliance. Currently, he is the Director of Recruiting Solutions for Engage Talent. He has experience with both third-party agency and in-house recruiting for multiple disciplines. Using out-of-the-box tactics and strategies to identify and engage talent, he has had significant experience in building referral and social media programs, the implementation of Applicant Tracking Systems, technology evaluation, and the development of sourcing, employment branding, and military and college recruiting strategies. Derek currently lives in the Portland area. Now, he is the Director of Recruiting Solutions and Channels with Engage.

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