Category Archives: General

Want to see me get a performance review LIVE for the first time in 6+ years?

Recently I had the pleasure of joining Troy Vermillion on Eight Hour Grind, a show that looks at work trends.

The topic? Performance management. 

After sharing with Troy some of the best ideas from our research, he sprung a surprise on me: my very own performance review! If you click to watch the video below, it will auto-jump to the time where the performance review begins.

How would you rate me based on my responses? Exceeds expectations or needs improvement?


How do I start my own HR consulting business? [Ask upstartHR]

Have a question you’d like answered? Just shoot it our way at ben AT upstartHR DOT com and we’ll see if we can cover it in a future blog!

Thank you so much for your insight! I ultimately would like to launch my own business as an HR consultant, with a focus on culture.


Hi Carrie! How neat! There’s always an opportunity for great service and support in this area. As you probably know, there’s a range of HR consulting opportunities. 

  • Some people lean into the compliance, handbooks, and HR audits side of things. That’s a great way to help employers get themselves protected and establish a foundation for future HR innovation and growth. 
  • Others have a specialty, like recruiting, compensation, training, etc. They are most often brought in for special projects or to help cover for a gap in an existing HR team’s abilities (or time, if they’re too busy). 

You mentioned culture specifically, which is an interesting niche. There are some people doing some good work in this area already that you should connect with and learn from. For instance, I interviewed Angie Redmon on the We’re Only Human podcast about how she helps companies become a “best place to work,” and she shed light on her methodology and approach. 

When it comes to the actual consulting piece, just know that many people who plan to start a business (even HR pros who have inside info on how a business operates!) often underestimate what it takes to do the marketing, sales, bookkeeping, etc. to keep it running. That’s not a red flag, just a caution to go in eyes wide open. 

I’ve written on those topics in the past pretty extensively and would recommend these two as good resources: 

If you like to listen, I recorded an HRChat podcast with Bill Banham of the HR Gazette on how to break out of the trenches and into HR consulting with some good advice and info. 

You may find it’s the best decision you ever made, or you might realize it’s more difficult than you expected. The bottom line is that the decision isn’t permanent and you can test it for a season just to find out for yourself. Above all, have fun! 

The CHRO of Memphis on Getting to HR’s Purpose

The first advice I would say is be extremely clear about what your purpose is. When I came into this role, we were extremely clear about what not only my goal, but my purpose as a leader in what I was here to do. I think is important for all HR professionals to understand really the critical business needs for the organization that you’re a part of, and what is your role in your purpose within that? 

Alex Smith, CHRO of the City of Memphis

We’re Only Human — Episode 135

One of the things we’re tasked with as HR leaders? Helping other people find their purpose in the business. 

The data are clear: purpose is one of the key levers of engagement and connection with the business. But have we ever stopped to think about our own purpose? What it is? Why it matters? How it can serve as a guiding light for our efforts? 

In this episode of We’re Only Human, Ben talks with Alex Smith, head of HR for the City of Memphis, about her suggestions on how to create a more dynamic HR function through continuous learning, a strong purpose, and more. 

Just like the relatively small rudder steers a much bigger ship, this purpose can steer each of us into more impact than we could have without it. 

Show Notes

Connect with Alex on LinkedIn: 

See our show archives, sign up for free updates, and more: 


New Data on Employee Mental Health, Business Impact, and Employee Perception

“According to their Director of DEI and Mental Health, they’ve reduced short-term disability claims related to mental health by 20%, and they’ve reduced relapse and recurrence by more than 50%.” 

Doug Berkowitz – SVP Operations – LifeSpeak

We’re Only Human — Episode 134

In the last few years, employee mental health has become a priority for more employers than ever before. And yet the data indicate that while employers are trying to make positive changes, they aren’t really being felt by the workforce nearly as much as employers would like.

In this episode of We’re Only Human, Ben talks with Doug Berkowitz from LifeSpeak about some new research that dives deep into what employees want from their companies, including specifics on types of mental health support, what aspects are most important, and how it will impact their performance and retention. 

Bottom line: it’s time to for employers to take the topic of mental health and wellbeing seriously if they want to attract and retain a high-performing workforce. 

To see the full research report, check out the link in the show notes below. 


Mythbusting AI in Talent Acquisition on We’re Only Human

The days of a recruiter having to really remember or jot down different iterations, skills, synonyms, acronyms… Those days are gone. We are constantly learning based off of the resumes that we’re parsing. 

Terry Bustamante, DaXtra Technologies


We’re Only Human — Episode 133


Back in December, Ben and over 100 other business leaders and technology providers attended the HR Tech Connect Summit in Jacksonville, FL. At the event, one key session was called Mythbusting AI for HR, and it dove into the specific areas where myths abound because of misinformation or lack of insight into algorithm-based technologies. 

Today’s conversation with Terry from DaXtra, recorded live on site during the HR Tech Connect Summit, dives into mythbusting AI specifically around hiring, giving ideas about how AI can increase the number of candidates available for a role, drive diversity and limit bias, and so much  more. 


Interested in checking out what DaXtra is doing? Here is how they are supporting employers: 

Connect with Terry on LinkedIn: 

Learn more about the HR Tech Connect Summit: 

See our show archives and sign up for free updates: 

Top Concerns for HR in 2022 on We’re Only Human

“Many employees these days may feel disconnected from their jobs or the company culture as a whole.”

Ralf Hoffman, Managing Partner & Co-Founder, Drake Star


We’re Only Human — Episode 132


One of the things that makes us all better is hearing from people outside of our bubble. In this episode, Ben talks with Ralf Hoffman, an investor and business leader that helps with funding and business deals across the HR technology industry. They dive into some of the things that are top of mind for Hoffman, such as the inclusion of artificial intelligence into HR operations, the need to consider virtual and remote employees when making decisions, and more. 

But Ben also asks a hard question towards the end: should HR, talent, and learning professionals be looking at the company behind the technology, not just the software, when making a purchasing decision? 

Check out this conversation to hear Ralf’s answer and other trends his firm is watching for the coming year. 


Show notes and links:

Check out the previous episode on HR’s role in cybersecurity:

Learn more about Drake Star:

Check out the show archives, sign up for updates, and more: 

My Kid Wants to Be a Recruiter. How Do I Help Them? [Reader Question]

Have a question for yourself or a friend? Feel free to share it and we’ll try to address it in a Reader Question segment!

My daughter went to school for Performance Arts and Psychology but as Covid has shut down live venues, has decided to reinvent herself as a recruiter. For those in Talent Attraction, what would you recommend as best next steps for breaking into the field? -Tammy

Hi Tammy! This is so exciting, because I’ve always hoped that at least one of our kids would follow in my footsteps into HR/recruiting. Congrats to you!

First of all, this is THE time to get into the space. There are more jobs posted than ever before, and you can find good opportunities to jump in, learn, and be great at the recruiting profession. Look at the number of jobs available right now:

It’s more than 5x higher than it was two years ago!

Now, from a practical perspective, I’ve written extensively on how to break into the profession over the years.

The best guide for that is here: How to break into human resources and recruiting

The thing about recruiting specifically is that staffing is the best and most common way of getting in, and it has been for a long time.


It’s intense (high volume, quotas, and fast paced), but it also can create a set of skills that help a recruiter stand apart from the others who just post a job and wait for applicants to show up (that isn’t happening these days!)

The people who end up succeeding in the recruiting profession often (but not always) have some of that in their background.

In addition, there are 40+ ways to learn some of the basics of HR and recruiting without paying a single dime. We have had thousands of HR pros use our recommended tools to learn and grow. A great example is our upcoming HR Summer School event (which is free) and will cover some of the most current and interesting topics in the HR and recruiting space.

Her training in performing arts can come in handy here. Learning how to:

  • Convey emotions
  • Get someone to understand your perspective
  • Pick up on their social cues
  • Put on a bit of a show

Those are all pieces of what makes a recruiter great. She has a fighting chance if she’ll go all in!

Best of luck to her!

If anyone else has suggestions, please feel free to share in the comments below!