I used to be the Peyton Manning of the HR Technology Conference & Exposition.
Well, okay, no. Peyton Manning has natural skills and abilities. He has raw talent. I was Peyton Manning in that I saw myself as the leader of a new generation of HR professionals who were embracing HR technology as an integral part of their jobs.
I’m the kid who has Peyton Manning’s poster on his wall and thinks, yeah man, I’m somebody.
And while I was a big deal in my head, there’s a weird paradoxical element to the story: I’m not nobody.
While I didn’t make HR technology a thing — and I certainly didn’t make the HR Technology Conference & Expo an excellent show — I influenced a generation of HR professionals in a small but not insignificant manner. I know this because I hear from kids who have been in HR for just a few years. They say things like, “I’ve been reading your blog since college. You just get me. You understand my career. I’m trying to do new things, but I still can’t get Betty to give up her damn binders.”
These young women are in their mid-to-late 20s, and Betty is my age. It stings a little. But it’s reassuring to know that young women are pushing for change because I’ve shown them that HR doesn’t have to be so horrible. Or maybe I’ve shown them that it’s easy to overcome the technology hurdle. They can aspire to work in an HR or recruiting role that is horrible in new and different ways.
But like Peyton Manning, I’m old and mostly retired from the game. I have loose affiliations to the HR tech community — and a lot of healthy relationships — but my eyes are on a different prize.
Here’s the weird thing, though. HR technology companies still want my attention. Supposedly, I still move the market. Maybe now more than ever because I’m older and less obnoxious.
What’s even weirder is that, after nearly ten years of this, they still do bad marketing and use my name and likeness without offering any compensation.
Now, hey, listen. It’s nice to be wanted. But as one of my dear friends recently reminded me, I went to the Peyton Manning School of Endorsements®. America’s favorite ex-QB is not out there evangelizing DirecTV and Nationwide for free. There’s skin in the game.
If you put Peyton Manning’s face on your HR tech marketing materials, you get sued. When you put Laurie Ruettimann’s face and name on your marketing materials, you roll your eyes and say that she’s tacky to ask for money.
Well, people, I have a dream. I want to be as tacky as Peyton Manning. I want to live in one of Peyton Manning’s tacky homes. I want to have one of his tacky cars. I want to copy his tacky life.
And I don’t know who the next Peyton Manning of the HR tech space is, but it’s my hope that my dogged pursuit of fair and equitable compensation makes a lasting mark on this industry so that some new girl can be tacky like Peyton Manning, too.
So follow this advice and stay safe, my dear friends in the HR tech community: if you wouldn’t use Peyton Manning’s face without a contract and a written consent form, don’t use an HR influencer’s face or words without permission.
The curriculum from the Peyton Manning School of Endorsements® is solid, and I intend to pass down these lessons to the next generation.
Long live Peyton Manning and his tackiness!