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Employer Brand Evolution

The world has changed and so has the employment branding game. That's why Chad & Cheese have relaunched the Cult Brand series with the help of's Julie Calli. And what better guest to bring on the show than marketing magic man Chris Kneeland of Cult Collective? The group discusses issues around holistic brand,

HR's newly minted seat at the table, branding in a post-pandemic and WFH world and much, much more.


INTRO (1s):

Hide your kids! Lock the doors! You're listening to HR’s most dangerous podcast. Chad Sowash and Joel Cheeseman are here to punch the recruiting industry, right where it hurts! Complete with breaking news, brash opinion and loads of snark, buckle up boys and girls, it's time for the Chad and Cheese podcast.

Joel (26s):

Oh yeah, who's ready for a little Cult Brand conversation? What's up everybody? It's your favorite podcast the Chad and Cheese podcast. This is your co-host Joel Cheeseman joined as always by my partner crime Chad Sowashington. Today we welcome a third wheel to the cohost roster Julie Kelly member of the community. And you know him, you love him, you missed him terribly Chris Kneeland co-founder of the Cult Collective. Should we take a second to let Julie say hi?

Chad (1m 7s):


Julie (1m 7s):

Hello. I'm happy to be part of this conversation. I'm a huge fan of marketing, but focus on the employer side of marketing. I think it's harder to sell, showing up to work every day for a company than it is to sell a pair of sneakers or a product. So I enjoy the challenge that comes with recruitment marketing.

Chad (1m 31s):

Wow. Did you detect a little snark there from Julie? Well it might've come from one of the earlier inteviews we've had with Chris. Here's a clip.

Joel (1m 43s):

Why aren't marketing and HR talking to each other?

Chris (1m 47s):

I really don't know.

Chad (1m 48s):

You should've seen his face.

Chris (1m 51s):

You know a couple of things. I think the HR professionals in many cases have a lot of insecurity when they get into audience engagement stuff, there's glaring, you know, they don't go to school to learn this stuff. They don't go to conferences to learn this stuff. And so you don't want to lean into weaknesses typically. And marketing, I think feels overwhelmed. Like they already have a pretty big to-do list. And so you're now asking me to do one more thing. And my point is your to-do list would actually get less if you started with the employees, all these other symptoms that you're focusing on would go away.

Joel (2m 23s):

Does marketing look down on HR?

Chris (2m 26s):

I kind of think most people look down on HR.

Chad (2m 33s):

But to be fair, that was back in February of 2019. And Chris's thoughts on HR and recruiting, much like the rest of the corporate world has evolved since then tell him, Chris.

Chris (2m 53s):

There was I think a, a strong belief that the HR team and the HR objectives were largely irrelevant to what the business and the brand leaders were talking about. That I think that there was an unhealthy disrespect and it wasn't me saying I disrespect them, it was me saying when I go into boardrooms, I don't see HR executives at the table. I don't see them talking about solutions that are going to make their businesses better. They, and frankly, it was because we had this mentality, I think that labor was cheap and easy and that we could find people to fill our stores. And you know, now that we're dealing with the great resignation, now that the McDonald's by my house has assigned saying, we're paying $19 an hour plus you choose your own schedule.

Chris (3m 42s):

Plus we'll give you tuition reimbursement. Like it's just a different day.

Joel (3m 47s):

Plus a free iPhone.

Chris (3m 49s):

It's insane. You know, it's like now people are realizing that the biggest inhibitor to our growth is our inability to fill positions and so it's a completely different world. And the HR issues are at the forefront. And the bigger question now becomes who's best qualified to solve those issues because I still see HR teams as being understaffed and underfunded and they need to tap into additional skillsets and additional budgets to help them.

Joel (4m 17s):

Are they at the table now?

Chris (4m 18s):

I think they are absolutely at the table. Let me just tell you, I got a phone call from a CEO the other day, multi-billion dollar company who said Chris, I mean, we typically are viewed as creating external engagement, right? And she was already, can your company help us? We're down 800 positions. We need to fill 800 roles. And I just loved the fact that she's thinking about, can we use marketing agencies and marketing tactics to help us fill what the CEO is saying as the biggest challenge facing their ability to hit their revenue this year.

Chad (4m 51s):

That's awesome. Julie, I've got to ask you a question though, off of this. So why hasn't HR been at the table? We've been whining for years about not having a seat at the table. There's a reason for that. So from your seat, what is that reason? Why haven't we been at the table?

Julie (5m 8s):

Well, I think it's often been that talent acquisition has been reviewed as a cost center. It costs money to hire people, to invest in the technology, to do all of the activity that's involved with recruitment. And then of course, you know, you look for, well, what is the return of that investment? And the return is every dollar that the company makes in revenue has to do with it's people making that happen. So, yes, there's an external audience that you have to care about and the perception of the world and what they have of the products and services that you offer, but also the internal and getting people to show up to work every day in which powers your company and the work that's done every day.

Julie (5m 52s):

So I think people viewed it as a cost center. It was a thing you had to do to get by, but now companies are having this boardroom level conversation about, we can't grow without our people.

Joel (6m 3s):

Chris, do you think it goes deeper than that? Because marketing is technically a cost center, isn't it? I mean, was it more of just a general disrespect for the office?

Chris (6m 12s):

You know, I don't know if it's disrespect. I think it was certainly taken for granted. I think that supply was higher than demand and that if they thought about, I mean, listen, I've been in many rooms where they say we're going to open a new store in this city. Never once was there a conversation, "I wonder if we're going to be able to get 200 people to apply?" There was this assumption that there was just going to be talent whenever we made the opportunity. And probably some ego that businesses would say, well, certainly people would want to work with us. And it wasn't until they realized why isn't anybody working with us? Or why are we having to spend so much money to beg people to come work here? That they had to really start to look in the mirror and say, maybe we're not as desirable as we thought we were.

Chris (6m 55s):

And a lot of that is their brand and a lot of that is their culture.

Joel (6m 58s):

Yeah, I was gonna say, so the conversations now that HR is at the table is the conversation. How do we build a better brand in terms of attracting talent? Is it more about how do we better market and advertise our positions? Or is it a little bit of both?

Chris (7m 14s):

Yeah, that's right. So I'd love to hear what Julie has to say. I think the old mentality was how do we create, you know, HR policies, benefits that will attract people. And what we're trying to say is if you have a brand, I mean, what's a better sign of like adoration, a customer who comes and buys something once a month, a customer who comes and buys something and tells their friends how much they love it, or a person who applies to work at your company saying, I want to spend 40 to 50 hours a week with you, right? I mean, that is the ultimate sign of adoration.

Julie (7m 49s):

There it is.

Chris (7m 49s):

Is that I love this company. And when we see it, we've seen it with Zappos. We've seen it with Yeti. You know, when there's certain businesses that don't even have to do anything. It's one of the symptoms we look at when we are interviewing brands for the gathering is how much investment are you making in what we call bribery, paying people to go out and find people to come and work there, versus you're just fielding hundreds or thousands of unsolicited inbound resumes, because you've built something that people are begging to be a part of.

Julie (8m 19s):

That's the word right? Begging to be a part of. And that is a cult brand, right? And to be somebody that you want to show up to work for every day, is a much higher level of commitment to ask for. And if you're a brand, no matter if it's what you do or how you treat your people, or the benefits that you offer, if you're a brand that's like emulating, like this is the place to be, and everybody's lined up to be there, then you've arrived at that Cult Brand, couldn't be a bigger fan to say, I want to work for you. That's really the be all for a brand is that somebody loves your brand enough, that they want to show up and help you make it greater.

Chad (8m 57s):


Joel (8m 58s):

So I think that goes to our sort of holistic brand commentary because Chris, I think you would believe, I think you would think that, you know, someone that loves Yeti, they love Yeti because of the brand that it emulates in terms of a consumer brand, but not necessarily how are their benefits and what's their time off policy, right? So the two schools of thoughts of, Hey, it's the one holistic brand that's gonna sort of achieve both realms or both strategies, or are we still at a place where we have, you know, the consumer brand? And then we have this separate brand about what it's like to work here? Both for Julia and Chris, where do you think we are in regards to holistic brand and employment brand?

Julie (9m 39s):

I've heard you say before Chris, that they should be one and the same. And I really agree with what you said, and I've heard you say in the past is, that a brand shouldn't have two separate branding, it's employer branding and it's consumer branding. It's brand should be one. But I think that companies struggle to make that, they're two different communication groups, but you can still be one brand.

Chris (10m 4s):

Yeah. I mean, you know, if you replace the word brand with reputation, you know, people would get disappointed. If you love air and be Airbnb as a brand, you may be a host or that's your preferred way to travel, is you stay overnight there. And then you were to be reading horror stories about how they treat their people and their high turnover and their CEO is an asshole. And all those types of things, it would damage your perception and your affinity for that brand. Now you could decide I'm going to overlook it because I still love the value, but it would, it would absolutely hinder your ability to reap all the benefits of cult-like status.

Chris (10m 45s):

Versus when you sink, when you think of something like Yeti, I mean, half of it, what I think we're seeing through the great resignation is the idea of just life is too short to spend my time with people, places, or things that don't bring me the ultimate joy. And so if I just love hunting, camping, and fishing, I'm not gonna, you know, work in a factory all day and then hunt and camp fish on the weekend. I want to be doing hunting, camping, fishing all the time. I'm going to find brands that are in that space. And we're seeing that with hospitality or travel or automotive or apparel, people are just sort of reprioritizing how do I want to spend my 40 hours a day? Not just my nights and weekends.

Chris (11m 26s):

So that's part of your brand. Do you clearly, you know, dominate a space and the higher affinity, you know, if people love, I was looking at a job the other day with a sports team, and I was just thinking to myself, how are you not just overwhelmed with applicants? Because everybody that loves, you know, football is going to want to be associated with this brand. And so that's an privilege that your brand can be associated with something that people can get actually enthusiastic about. Now, if you're waste management or, you know, utilities, you're gonna have a bigger burden because people don't get as excited about that. And that's why you're starting to see this heightened emphasis on brand purpose.

Chris (12m 5s):

You know? Yeah. Maybe your business is, you know, copy machines and nobody gets excited about color copies, but if you could be tethered to, we enable entrepreneurism and we're feeling that now all of a sudden you can get employees lathered up about that again. So part of it's brand purpose, part of it's your category. And then part of it's just the reputation of what are the policies and practices that make sure people feel valued and appreciated when they're there?

Chad (12m 32s):

Copy machines, they still have those.

Chris (12m 34s):

Yeah they do.

Julie (12m 35s):

And it's also that they feed each other, they are interconnected, right? Because I make consumer decisions based on how I know a company treats its people, right. I I'm loyal to Chobani yogurt because I know how well they treat their people. I hear stories about all the time at their profit sharing that they give to their employees. That makes me go to the grocery store and say, put that yogurt back to my kids. I don't know how they treat their people, get the Chobani cause I know that they treat their people well. So that affects the consumer side as well.

Chad (13m 11s):

Going beyond that and talking more on the grander scale, Chris, you guys have eight cult brand principles. Would you think that those all extend to marketing on the recruitment side as well? I mean, you still have to pick a fight because you have competitors and you want to try to get the best talent, right? You a want to co-create have purpose all these things they resonate with getting the best talent. Would you agree, or would you say that maybe some of those eight, they just, don't quite fit?

Chris (13m 42s):

No, I totally agree. And I often get worried because one of the eight is very HR and culture centric. This idea of building from the inside out. And we have seen clients kind of cherry pick that one, throw it over the fence to their HR peers and say, can you guys do that when we're going to do the other seven? It's like, no, no, no, this needs to, this must remain across functional things because you get back to things like if your remarkability has any aspect of your people, if you're claiming your service or your call center or your sales team is part of what makes you special now instantly you don't get to delegate that to HR that that is core to your brand. If you're a brand purpose and then even things like congregate or co-create, you know, we're really big fans of customer and employee advisory councils.

Chris (14m 29s):

We don't really like culture committees anymore because culture committees have been sort of relegated to planning the Christmas party. So we have to like rebrand a new institution of an employee or a people advisory council, where technically we got to get away from these sort of autocratic. So, you know, kind of mandates that come down from on high. In a perfect company, the CEO is almost negotiating with or counseling with their customer and their employee advisory councils to say, now, can you guys share this or, you know, kind of do more of a bottom up and create a bit of a, you know, we can't really use the virus metaphor anymore, but you kind of, you know, we, the idea was to sort of infect the organization like a virus using the rank and file versus something that comes down from the C suite, because those sort of autocratic regimes are oftentimes being held now as bad examples of sort of flawed leadership and management styles of the past.

Joel (15m 25s):

Got a question you may have heard of the news recently, Airbnb's CEO, Brian Chesky is sort of roaming the world, I think over the next year, staying at Airbnbs and working from there and looking at sort of the role of the CEO and building brand and sort of the new world of work from home. What is your take on the principles and what is Brian trying to do with his trek around the world? I assume he would be more productive in California working at the headquarters, but it seems like he's killing a lot of birds with one stone by doing this around the country, around the world Airbnb stay.

Chris (16m 2s):

Yeah. I mean, first and foremost, I think Brian is one of the top 10 CEOs in America right now. People would do well to sort of study him and the way that they handled their layoffs in the early days of the pandemic.

Joel (16m 13s):

Talk about that for those that don't know or remember what he did.

Chris (16m 16s):

It was very public. You can Google it. It was just incredibly humane their business, you know, particularly in the first quarter of the pandemic, when we kind of thought that everything that we knew was gonna fundamentally change for the worse. They had to do some significant layoffs and not only were they generous in the sense of their severance, but they were just really humane. And that's one of the corporate principles on being relatable. It was obvious how painful this was. It was clear that it wasn't taken lightly and that every other option was exhausted before they kind of came to this. And I think it was just really well received, partly because he did a really good job with it.

Chris (16m 60s):

And partly because the contrast at the time of other organizations that were doing it much worse just made his approach seem all the better.

Chad (17m 9s):

Yeah. I'm a huge fan of whatever you want to call it, eating your own dog food, drinking your own champagne, whatever it is, it just on a much larger scale you're demonstrating that you believe in your product and you want to use it. And you believe in your hosts, right? And you believe in the whole infrastructure that in the brand that you've built, I think it's pretty amazing. We're talking about HR or recruiting, working with marketing. I want to hear from you Chris, and from Julie, how can that be done better? We do have great examples of some recruiting leaders who have worked very closely with marketing and with their CROs, but how can we do this better as a whole?

Chris (17m 53s):

Well, it's dangerous cause I don't know Julie and her company well enough to know whether they're going to be a part of my good example or my bad example.

Chad (18m 1s):

She'll tell ya.

Chris (18m 3s):

But listen, I think recruitment is an example of and I put it up there. We're sort of like with real estate agents that they serve a valuable role, but it hasn't really been in my mind, demonstrably improved upon in 20 years, they haven't exploited a lot of the digital tools other than just using them to, you know, source versus create community. So I think one of the challenges I have with traditional recruitment is it's very transactional. You know, we don't really have a relationship until an opportunity has come up. There's, it's very one way in the sense that it's me with the recruiter versus me with other applicants or me with the employer.

Chris (18m 46s):

I think nurturing communities of people that have expressed interest in a role that can maybe be fostered for months, if not years versus, Hey, this, the opening is just come up and it's now it's more about timing and luck, maybe a little bit of networking and who, you know, versus I think maybe we did talk about back with IBM back in February of 2019 is a whole community of places where people can get more and more information about the company and they can let the company learn more about them and their evolving skill set and interest levels and realizing that, you know, the best time to find a job might be for me in five years, what most recruiters would then dismiss me saying, well that you're not going to make my monthly quota so you're useless to me right now versus you can make a lot of money off of me if we found a different way to engage and train and teach and entertain or whatever, have a relationship versus a transaction.

Chris (19m 39s):

Thoughts on that Julie?

Chad (19m 41s):

Does any of that sound familiar, Julie?

Julie (19m 44s):

Yes. I mean, too much of recruitment is treated like a transaction. Like I need someone great. Let's put in a request and let's wait for the team to bring us some candidates to interview and let's hire. And it's a transaction rather than a relationship. Relationships take time. They take commitment. There's a promise. There's an exchange. And it needs to be viewed more that you're building relationships. Then we just need to hire someone. The brand story is what is very important in this. There's a promise that the brand makes. We're looking for someone with these skills, these competencies to fill this role and in exchange, we promise you that.

Julie (20m 24s):

And that is the brand story. Who are you? What is your purpose? What is the value? What is the benefit now that is value proposition right now, product marketers know that all day, but we're doing that for a brand. And there's a story that needs to be there and a promise that needs to be made and it can look great on the front, right? But then when people get in there within 24 hours, you might get notice because what you sold may not be what you're delivering and then you won't be able to retain in that relationship.

Joel (20m 55s):

We've identified the problem. Let's talk about the solution because I feel like the reward system is a little screwed up because recruiters are rewarded, whether it be monetarily or otherwise by putting butts in seats. They're not really rewarded for keeping a relationship with a candidate or former prospect. So what's the solution and who owns that solution? Is it a marketing problem with, Hey, we're going to continue to farm these folks. They might not be customers, but they're kind of customers as they used to want to work here. Is it an HR problem that needs to be solved? Like what, where do you guys see the solution on this?

Chris (21m 32s):

I see two things. One I'd love to see a switch in the power dynamic. I think it's weird to me that most recruiters are retained by the hiring organization. I don't, I'd rather have more like the sports metaphor. I always, Jerry McGuire's is one of my favorite movies, but like, I don't know why top talent doesn't have a recruiter working for them and is advocating on my behalf versus working for the company. And maybe that exists for like the highest echelon of CEO. But you know, I'm working with a group right now that's helping me get on boards. And I like the fact that they're championing on my behalf as opposed to just feeding me pre-existing a supply side.

Chris (22m 12s):

And then the other thing I think has to happen is we have to stop thinking about full time. I think the rise of the contingent worker and the gig economy is going to just radically shift. It won't make sense to pay a recruiter 20 or 30% of my starting salary because maybe the company only needs me for 12 months. And then, you know, it could be the company only needs me to be there for three years to make it back that that finder's fee. And so I think more project based work, more non-traditional employment kind of contracts is going to become good for a business because they're going to start to realize that what they really have are projects or temporary needs.

Chris (22m 52s):

You don't need a 12 person website development team. Once it's built, maybe you need two people to keep it, you know, maintained and updated. But the people that built it should be released back into the wild to go get other jobs where people are building stuff from scratch versus, you know, creating all these systems and an overhead in house.

Julie (23m 7s):

I agree with that. I think that you're going to see a lot of flexibility. Well, first of all, flexibility is expected of the job seeker. So companies will have to adapt if they want to keep, you know, fully staffed around all of those projects, whether they're temporary or perm. But where do I see a shift happening? It's in the boardroom now, right? When companies set their objectives for growth, they're in a great, we have to invest in marketing. We have to invest in our sales team. We have to invest in these things to grow. Those things are always understood and lined up and allocated appropriately in those rooms. But HR is like, oh yeah. And then we have to hire some people. That's not the conversation that's happening now.

Julie (23m 48s):

Now it's like, we need to grow, but we can't unless we hire these people and we can't right now. So that is why companies are starting to say my growth plan needs to include how I'm going to overcome hiring in a talent shortage.

Chad (24m 4s):

Do you think that'll change with the economy changing though, because once we shift back to more of a market, let's say that's more back to equilibrium. Do you think HR will then be cast aside again? Or are we making a good enough appeal to the C-suite that look, your products don't get created, your sites won't be developed. You won't have any services. You'll have nothing without talent. Does the C-suite understand that? Or is this just a blip in the radar?

Julie (24m 34s):

Well, one, I'd say you see evidence of it already. Some of the largest brands are buying significant ad space to get prime time exposure. And what they're featuring is their people, their company, right? They're trying to show that they take care of their people, that their people are what power, they're creating a humanized connection between they are an employer to the consumer. So you're seeing more of that happen. And now that's happening at the, you know, the high level where a lot of big brands, cult brands types can afford to do that. But companies are starting to see that as a competitive advantage for themselves, that if they elevate and focus who they are as an employer and how they treat their people, the impact that they make on their community, that that is actually something that consumers are making a buying decision behavior around.

Chris (25m 23s):

Yeah. I agree, Chad, I don't think it's going to be, something's happened in HR where they have now leveled up and force themselves into the C suite. I think what we're actually seeing is that the CEO, him or herself has fundamentally shifted. There was, there was some data that came out in November when we thought it was nearing an end before omnicron, but EQ has surplussed IQ as the number one attribute employees want in their leaders now and that's, I think more fundamental. When CEOs, when new people who are getting the job and again, I go back to sports, think about what Sean McVeigh did way before Sean McVeigh, and he was like the youngest coach in the NFL.

Chris (26m 4s):

All the coaches were in their sixties. They had a certain sort of mentality. And now all of the head coaching jobs are like 30 or 40 somethings, completely different mindset and philosophies about how to build a team, how to create innovative or offenses. And we're going to see that, that people are starting to say, maybe the secret for success now is becoming a different type of leader. And therefore I'm going to need different types of lieutenants. And they're going to bring in HR professionals who are wired, you know, to elevate their more purpose-driven the more empathetic, the more people centric mentality.

Joel (26m 39s):

Everyone's started talking about. Long-term Chris, you touched on a contract, which spurred in me that the gig economy and more and more companies are I outsourcing work that they need done, having short-term contracts or assignments with folks. How does employment brand play into this new reality of sort of temporary work? Does it, does it even matter with people that are just on contracts for a little bit, or does it still matter?

Chris (27m 4s):

Oh for sure. And some of it's portfolio work like people want Nike on their resume or people want, you know, some big notable brand, but you know, one of the tools that we have within Communo is a sort of like a glass door of what's this place like to work at. And, you know, companies get reputations very quickly for, are they abusive? You know, maybe not physically, but you know, is it like they don't treat their contractors well, you feel subservient? You feel like you're a second class citizen. And so people will opt out of that and you'll end up having to pay higher and higher hourly rates. So just like getting a lineup of job applicants, you, what you really want is the best and brightest freelance talent, willing to give you tremendous deals just for the privilege of working on some cool, you know, account or new product launch or whatever it might be.

Chad (27m 52s):

With the current state of the economy, let's say economy's booming, but people are quitting. Is that because we're actually seeing all of these new opportunities and options in the gig economy, I actually just spoke to somebody today who said, she's doing like three different side hustles and she's making more money than she did full-time and this is a VP person, by the way, more money than she did, full-time number one. And she has a hell of a lot more time left. So are we shifting to less of this full-time kind of like landscape and more to gig inside hustle work?

Julie (28m 28s):

It's a job seekers market and they get to call the shots right now. So they get to decide if they want to favor more flexible working environments. And that's what they are, right? The expectations have changed and people are making the choice to, I mean, this, all the data points to this, that people are choosing to sacrifice the security that has always come with full-time employment, perceived security, but that that's really what it is. Like people would favor to work for an employer because there's a guarantee and a security that comes with that. There's risk associated with being your own boss and freelancing and doing contracts, but it offers lifestyle flexibility for them, the ability to choose their own experience.

Julie (29m 14s):

So, you know, like you were saying, Chris, if, if somebody is going to treat you terribly, you have the option to say, Nope, I'm done with that project. Moving on.

Chris (29m 23s):

There's two things to think about. So for the most part, I think it's an overwhelming positive. I, you know, people used to say shame on the government. It was their generous stimulus checks that got us in this mess, but that's been over for a while, right? It's the stimulus checks are not, what's keeping people out of the traditional work environments, everything that Julie just said.

Julie (29m 43s):

I agree with you. No, those checks were not what happened if that were the case, then they ended in September and we would have everybody back at work and they are not. So that's proof.

Chris (29m 54s):

But let me tell you there's two downsides to it. One is so take my business. My business is headquartered in Calgary, Alberta, and for a decade, I considered it a competitive advantage, a secret weapon that I had this remarkable talent in Calgary who chose to live there because of a great lifestyle and work-life balance. And I was kind of one of the better games in town. So if the top talent wanted to work with great brands and do things on a global scale, there weren't a lot of options. And I've now lost that competitive advantage because Facebook or Google or Ford can also hire people and allow them to still live in Calgary.

Chris (30m 36s):

So we've had to revamp our employee policies, what we call our rights and rituals manual, to be even more competitive, because now I'm not just competing against the Calgary marketplace, I'm competing against the biggest, best employers in the world. And then the other thing that's been glaringly different between having a company in Calgary and clients in the US is my employees don't even give a second thought to moving elsewhere because of socialized healthcare. But in the states, people tend to linger a bit longer because the healthcare system still hasn't figured out how to really allow contingent workers and freelancers to reap the benefits. And that's probably the last thing that employers have that then when we change policies and insurance companies figure out ways to not, you know, sort of maximize the mean where you need a thousand employees that are going to be paying the premiums.

Chris (31m 27s):

Once that shifts, I think that the dam is going to break and you're going to see over 50% of professionals going freelance.

Joel (31m 36s):

I find that interesting. And Chris, you talked a little bit about sports today, and it seems like in the, you know, pre pandemic world, you know, I worked in my local market, you know, the buildings downtown had brands that were local or regional. And that was sort of a way to build retention or loyalty, right? Like to be able to say, Hey, in Indianapolis, I work at Eli Lilly. Like everyone knows that building and everyone knows that name on the marquee, but in a world where it's not local employment or even regional, the rich just get richer, right? Unless you're Facebook or Microsoft or this big brand employment seems that much tougher. So in terms of like sports brands, you know, we all watch, you know, football this weekend probably.

Joel (32m 19s):

Right. We see SoFi. We see some of the names on the stadiums, how important now, from companies aren't Microsoft or Facebook having their name on the local building, you know, the local skyscraper. Does that just matter from a consumer standpoint now should more and more businesses not worry about the regional brand because they're hiring from all over the place. Just what are your thoughts on that?

Chris (32m 43s):

It's an example of some misdirected, when you focus on an employer brand, you're going to make your headquarters, you're going to maybe make the universities in your local community. You're going to do most of your giving, you know, to the local charities or the, you know, flag football teams or soccer fields. And that's going to become increasingly wasted money when people aren't even in that city to, you know, to reap those benefits or enjoy those things. So that would be an example of you were actually trying to build a master brand. Then you would be receiving applicants from people begging you to change your policies. Or I know that I'm not in the city, but can you hire me anyway? And so that would be actually a pretty good indicator of, do you have an employer brand or do you have a master brand by how big is your draw?

Chris (33m 28s):

Where are you actually pulling people from?

Chad (33m 29s):

Well Chris, before we release you back into the wild, I wanna hear a little bit about what's going on with the gathering. Obviously some things have changed during the pandemic. You guys are going back to live shows, knock on wood, back to live shows. Tell us about what's going on there. And when when's the show coming up?

Joel (33m 52s):

Chad and I really miss Canada.

sfx (33m 54s):

Take-off will ya we're doin' our movie don't wreck our show hoser.

Chris (33m 56s):

Well, you guys know that you're of course, welcome to come back and join us. You know, the event is called The Gathering for a reason. And one of the Cult Brand principles is about congregating and something special that happens. You know, we went all digital last year. And it's interesting because in so many ways it was better. We had more small businesses come because the ticket prices were cheaper. We were able to go more global because you didn't have to incur the hassle of getting on an airplane so we had more of an international audience, which is also really positive and the content was as good as it's ever been. I mean, the brands that spoke, you know, gave great presentations, but there's something about being immersed.

Chris (34m 39s):

There's something about when you're consuming stuff digitally, it's too easy to get distracted. You don't have the, you can channel flip. You know, nobody in real life will get up in the middle of a session and just leave saying this isn't for me. But when you're doing it digitally, you can switch. And what I find is that you might think it's not for you. And in the last 10 minutes, they say something that's rocked your world. It's like, you're rewarded for having stuck out that the 30 or 45 minutes session. So there's something about being immersive that is just unreplicable. So we're doing our damnedest to get everybody back to the castle, but because of those positive side effects of smaller businesses and global, we're going to have a virtual offering as well.

Chris (35m 20s):

So it's a true hybrid event. You know, Julie, you mentioned Chobani. I think for the past 20 years, Zappos has been sort of the gold standard of a culture first organization. I hope that from the 2020s to 2030s, 2040s, the next golden boy is Chobani. I think it's such a remarkable company that's culture first. They're going to be there to tell their story. McDonald's we talked sports, we got the Seattle Kraken not because of what they've done in year one on the ice.

Joel (35m 47s):

Release the Kraken.

Chris (35m 48s):

People don't realize it's kinda like trying to get the Olympics in your city. What Seattle has had to do for the past five years to even be able to have an NHL franchise, I think is a story worth learning about. UNO, which has become the number one game, best-selling game through the pandemic, which is so fun. They were just in LA or Las Vegas doing that sort of their own world series of poker championship series, but with UNO cards, and it is so inclusive, people of all ages can play UNO. I think it said, they're going to surprise a lot of people about what, and they've done amazing things with like gay pride. For example, with UNO cards, they've done stuff with wine people.

Chris (36m 31s):

They've done stuff for left-hand there's left-handed, UNO cards like, it's just crazy. When you talk about diversity and inclusion, that things, that little humble UNO cards have done. So we're super excited about the brands that are going to be there. It's April 20th through 22nd, and you can learn more at

Chad (36m 47s):

I can definitely say for myself, it is the best conference I have ever been to. And like you'd said, Chris, when you sit down in one of those, it's not a pitch, one of those stories. I mean, you're actually listening to something that literally concretes you to the seat. You don't want to get up. I have generally at a conference. I want to go check my phone, go check my email. I don't do any of that when I'm at The Gathering. So get your ass to Julie Joel, our first real one pulled together in the books.

Julie (37m 23s):

And how wonderful to have Chris join us.

Joel (37m 28s):

Another one in the books, Chad. Julie.

Julie (37m 31s):

Back to the castle.

Chad and Joel (37m 33s):

We out.

OUTRO (38m 19s):

Thank you for listening to, what's it called? The podcast with Chad, the Cheese. Brilliant. They talk about recruiting. They talk about technology, but most of all, they talk about nothing. Just a lot of Shout Outs of people, you don't even know and yet you're listening. It's incredible. And not one word about cheese, not one cheddar, blue, nacho, pepper jack, Swiss. So many cheeses and not one word. So weird. Any hoo be sure to subscribe today on iTunes, Spotify, Google play, or wherever you listen to your podcasts, that way you won't miss an episode. And while you're at it, visit just don't expect to find any recipes for grilled cheese. Is so weird. We out.


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