I first met John Sumser, the Principal Analyst at HR Examiner, and one of the most sought after HR technology analysts, some 20 years ago, back in 1998, or so. That year, John hosted a cocktail party at his home in Milly Valley, CA for a small group of HR technology founders who where attending the SHRM conference in San Francisco. It was a pretty small group back then. I’m not sure how it all came together, but the party started winding down, and typical to any great conversation with John, questions about the future of recruiting, technology, and the market continued to deepen. At the time, there were only a handful of ATS systems and job boards. Most ATS systems were customized resume scanning systems that took paper and fax resumes, digitized them, and made them searchable. The conversations continued late into the evening, concluding with conversations of mergers and acquisitions, while enjoying John’s hot tub. A memorable night for sure. I recently had the honor of speaking with John on the HR Examiner Podcast series, where we talked about Recruiting AI, chatbots, text messaging, and loads of other technologies entering the recruiting and HR markets. Over the years, I’ve had numerous memorable conversations with John, an wanted to share a couple of my favorite “Sumser Quotes”. (they’re paraphrased.) A Social Network for unemployed people?
“Who would ever want to join a social network of other unemployed people? That makes no common sense. Who wants to hang out with bunch of equally depressed unemployed people?”… John’s response to my question; “What do you think about Jobster?” at the Jobster launch party at ERE in San Diego 2004? Well we know how that story ended. Meanwhile, another little company had yet to surface publicly in the recruiting space, a social network for professionals… LinkedIn. Diversity in the workforce:
“Here’s the problem with solving diversity in the workforce. Say your company has been successful for years, and the one thing that’s unique about your culture is that everyone wears a clown suit. As business continues to grow, you need to bring on more people. So you interview some great people and hire who you think will be a great employee. Then, on the new recruits first day of work, they show up bright and early… wearing lederhosen! Now what do you do? Do you make them change to a clown suit? Do you make everyone else wear Lederhosen? Do you find a way to embrace clown suits and lederhosen?”If you ever get a chance to sit down and have some deep conversations with John, I’d highly recommend it. Beware; Be prepared to think! Bring an open mind! And, Good Ideas and Data, go a long way!