CXR Recommends: Thank You for Being Late a guest post by Shaunda Zilich

I must first admit that I listened to Thank You for Being Late by Thomas Friedman while I ran but even when delivered in that medium, I’d recommend it for those that like to commit self-time every day.  My hour run is my ‘pause’ (we will talk about this in a minute). Friedman also wrote The Earth Is Flat that many people know about… he prides himself on translating English to English, and I LOVE that!  This is where you can truly see the purpose of his writings.  

This book starts and centers on one thing… The world is changing and at exponential rates.  Sometimes this can be overwhelming, but Friedman’s message is ‘it will be okay.’  After finishing the book, I can say that he explained how ‘it will be okay’ but I still have to be in an optimistic spirit to fully believe that the things that have to happen for it to okay will actually happen.

What does it mean to you?

When Friedman says he translates English to English he is right. He does it in a way that sometimes is pointing out the obvious but showing ‘what does that mean to me?’.  One of his first points is that he translates English to English because now is the time to understand… the more we understand, the less we fear. What a concept! I can relate to it in so many ways but for talent acquisition, think about that concept from the candidate’s point of view.

Friedman believes, and I do too, that we are at a turning point! He calls it the most significant inflection point in history. He then breaks it into three key areas that are all accelerating together and spends a portion of the book in each area:

  • Technology
  • Globalization
  • Climate change

Think about it! They are accelerating all together, for the first time in history, in an exponential way. He spends a good portion of the book on Technology, the “supernova” and how it connects all three areas. I found it totally fascinating and see how it can be applied to life, our why and what we do!   

Friedman goes on to say that this means so many aspects need to be reshaped or reimagined. Haven’t we all been saying that about Talent Recruitment? What is the most significant revolutionary change you have seen in recruiting in the last decade? I would guess you are having trouble coming up with something.  

Friedman spends a bit of time talking about the ecosystem and how the areas of the ecosystem that do not ‘win’ are those that fail to change. One thing I will always take from this book… the moment you find yourself not evolving you have already begun to die.

[CXR Recommends: New Scientist and You Can Do Anything | John Sumser]

One of his stories really caught me off guard: a story about dairy farmers and how they now have sensors on all the cows. With these sensors, they can tell the cows’ foot rhythm and stride and, applying predictive data, they can tell when a cow is about ready to go into heat. WHAT? Are you serious? Dairy farmers are using data for this… what are we doing again?

SO… that feels a bit heavy and overwhelming, right?  But here is where Friedman sheds light on the crazy whirlwind we all find ourselves in. He takes a ‘pause’ and reflects. It is a necessity… this pause is where we rethink our assumptions and connect to our beliefs. It teaches us to have patience. The world got to moving so fast and is in such an acceleration that we all forgot even where we used to ‘pause’ (hear the dial-up?)… and before us think about how long people had to ‘pause’ to wait for clothes, grain, harvest? Those ‘pauses’ weren’t just for the lack of technology… they were healthy! With patience comes wisdom…. Love… respect………. TRUST! Maybe this ‘moment’ we are all forgetting to take is the biggest contributor to the lack of trust in our world today. Think about that for a second… ‘pause’ if you will.

How does this relate to talent acquisition?

Wait… one more thing about the book… the title – Thank You for Being Late – how does this connect?  Friedman is a long-time columnist for the Times. He would often meet people for coffee or breakfast to interview or do some research. Many times, due to traffic or other factors, the person he was meeting with would be late and it was in these moments that he would ‘pause’ and ‘reflect.’  It was in these moments that he would have epiphanies of what he needed to translate next. It was in one of these moments that he met the parking attendant where he had been parking. This attendant had one interesting question for Friedman… and it started this book!  I’ll leave that one unanswered so you must read/listen to the book to learn the question.

The book is a lengthy one and contains so many cool stories… stories that directly impact our cause and purpose. About those who previously didn’t stand a chance now getting an education from MIT over the internet… about those who have been plagued by disease now receiving preventative education and completely rethinking/reimagining the process, giving them a chance to be top talent… to discover the next Einstein without overlooking him because he didn’t have internet. To have access to find the TOP talent to solve the world’s most difficult problems.

So… what does this mean to us?  Well, I think the rate of change in HR and TA right now is insane. Some of it is the muddy waters but some of it is amazing, fresh new tools and processes and thoughts that are reimagining recruiting. Where do we start?  For me, it starts with a ‘pause’ to consider a few questions… What small steps can I take?  How can I look at this from another angle?  If I’m sold that this is the way to do it, then I need to think about the strategy for acceptance.

It gives me hope… the stories in his book show that if we pause and do not get overwhelmed, we can make strides forward. It is now estimated that it only takes us 5-10 years to catch up to where technology was 5-10 years ago and it used to take generations for that kind of impact. In the end, he refers back to his childhood home in Minnesota and showcases on a micro level just how this does work!

We need to rethink staying stagnate and have a ‘turning point’ in our function.   Check out this book for fantastic ideas to spark just how we do that!  Are you ready? First PAUSE then GO!