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HR Manifesto

What happens when you get HR's most dangerous podcast together with the industry's most popular TikTok celebrity?

Yup, insanity!

The boys bring on Leigh Henderson, A.K.A., HR Manifesto, to reveal the secrets of TikTok success for employers. We also dig-in to hear Leigh's story of how she went from Fortune 100 executive to social media darling. We'd write more, but you people apparently have no attention span whatsoever ... thanks, TikTok!


INTRO (16s):

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 (22s):

Yeah. TikTok me, don't stop. What's up everybody? It's your favorite guilty pleasure. This is the podcast. I'm your co-host Joel Cheeseman joined as always. It's the Chris Rock to my Will Smith Chad Sowash. And today we have a social media influencer. Please welcome Leigh from Leigh Welcome to the podcast.

Leigh (48s):

Hi there. It's wonderful to be here. Thanks for having me.

Joel (52s):

Such an honor. Well, before we get into the heavy Q and A, as we do on this show, give us a Twitter bio of Leigh.

Leigh (60s):

Yeah. Yeah. Well, I can't even remember. Well, how many characters Twitter is that? Now from a bio perspective.

Joel (1m 5s):

You must have a blue check so it's at least 280.

Leigh (1m 8s):

No, no. Right. But you know, I'm an HR professional. I've only ever done HR. I've got 15 years in corporate America. I've supported a handful of fortune 100 companies. And last summer I quit the corporate gig and I went out and said, Hey, I'm going to become an entrepreneur.

sfx (1m 24s):

Applause and bullhorns.

Leigh (1m 25s):

Yes. Thank you. Thank you.

Chad (1m 27s):

Thank you.

Leigh (1m 29s):

A yes. Yes. And I started this little thing called HR Manifesto. And HR Manifesto was a dream of mine when I was about two years into the HR work, the HR gig because you see so much horrific shit.

Chad (1m 46s):

You do!

Leigh (1m 46s):

And I was sharing all these stories and everyone says, God, you have got to write a fucking book one day. And so, you know what, one day last June, what was that 2021? All these years kind of go together now. I said, I'm going to start that fucking book. It's about time. And so I went on TikTok. I downloaded it the same day I posted a video. Yeah. There, HR manifesto was born.

Chad (2m 10s):

So you have a book? Because I found you on TikTok and I couldn't get off the TikTok cause I was watching and I was following. And then I saw that you had a YouTube channel and then I saw you had an Instagram channel. I mean, you have like, what is it like a hundred or 450,000 followers on TikTok alone.

Leigh (2m 31s):


Chad (2m 31s):

So who is following you? Tell me it's all these old HR ladies who are using you as kind of like their spiritual animal.

Leigh (2m 41s):

Yeah. Well, when I posted HR Manifesto, when I started and I started it on the TikTok. Okay. On the clock app, I'm the oldest person on the TikTok, I think, well, maybe all are, but you know, I posted it to just test content for this book. Right. And so when I, I have this shtick, that's called HR approvals, right. Where I show like something horrific, most likely and then I come in and I say, whether it's HR approved or not. And you know, I started doing that and the whole purpose was to give the audience, you know, approachable coaching, right? So I'm testing content. I'm trying to coach people low key and boy people just clung to it.

Leigh (3m 26s):

But when I started doing that HR approval shtick, I made up this workplace survival guides in continuous employment. Okay. And it's HR Manifesto's Workplace Survival Guide for Continuous Employment, which is what the book was always going to be called, you know, even upwards of 15 years ago. So, it's an actual book. I get that question all the time, but I'm only halfway through that motherfucker because I started the TikTok. Obviously my brand expanded people want, you know, followers want content, content. I want to produce content because I'm creating a sale. And so now I'm like 10,000 words into this book. I haven't even touched it in a couple months and I need to, I need to you know, go on a sabbatical here, up in the mountains or something and just bang this thing out and finish it because I want to share, and that's the whole purpose of HR Manifesto, the entire brand, you know, it was to help coach people to help them maximize their success in the workplace utilizing my HR insights.

Chad (4m 27s):

Aren't you already doing that? I mean, you're doing that via TikTok. You're doing it via YouTube, Instagram. I mean, you're all over the place already doing this. You've got the background of, you know, being in corporate HR, in Caterpillar, GE, Lockheed Martin, Smith, pretty fucking names. But I mean, the question is today, do we even need to write books?

Joel (4m 48s):

Chad don't read good.

Chad (4m 51s):

And so there's so many different ways. No, I love reading books, but I even love listening to podcasts or going to TikTok or what have you, because you can get chunks of great information without having to spend hours.

Leigh (5m 4s):

Oh, I know. It's so true. I was even thinking, do I just take what I have now? And I just chunk it out into podcasts or into some "digital downloads," I'm doing air quotes. Y'all can say, it's like, digi downloads? It's like such a big thing, but you know, I'll tell ya. I mean, I am such a nerd though. I mean, I read the Pulitzers. I'm like 45 Pulitzers in, I love the old school feel and smell of a book, you know? And so I've done a lot of pivots. I've put a ton of content out there, but still something just turns me the hell on when it comes to writing a book. You know? So again, that's just my passion project. Will I ever get there?

Leigh (5m 44s):

Who knows? Because y'all just keep distracting me.

Joel (5m 47s):

Seriously, it sounds like your goal was sort of the traditional, I'm going to be a consultant. Let's make a webpage. And then you looked at social media as a way to build your brand. But I think one of the unique things about TikTok is that you don't need to generate, you know, a bunch of followers, right? The algorithm, if it works right, can get you tons of views. I mean, I have your first Tok, what do we call those? Your first TikTok?

Leigh (6m 10s):

I call them ticky tacks yeah.

Joel (6m 14s):

Your first TikTok was June 3rd, 2021 and two months later, you were having videos, one that you have, I think with the most is 9.7 million views.

Chad (6m 25s):

Holy shit.

Joel (6m 25s):

Since you've been doing this 8.6 million likes total on your videos, but you didn't have to grow the network it sounds like, it sounds like you just made a viral video and it took off from there. Talk about your response and if that surprised you.

Leigh (6m 38s):

Okay, so this is completely shocking and you actually got it wrong.

Joel (6m 44s):


Leigh (6m 45s):

Okay. So I, it was backwards. You know, you got it backwards, where you said, oh, it sounds like you wanted to be a consultant and a professional coach. And then, you know, you took it to social and tried to grow your business there. Absolutely not. If you would believe it, I started a TikTok as really just therapy for myself. Okay. So I've been in so many toxic workplaces and I love serving people. I consider myself a servant leader for sure. And I love sharing everything I do and know in my insights, my expertise, I have always coached and mentored so many people. And so I actually, after I left the corporate gig, I needed to recover.

Leigh (7m 24s):

You know, my goal was to take the summer off with my kiddos, I have two boys and you know, I'm just going to take a fucking break. I'm burnt out. Right? I mean, God, imagine the shit that I've seen in these, these organizations, you know?

Chad (7m 39s):

No, thanks.

Leigh (7m 40s):

So I know it's just like, it's hardcore. And then to be, you know, someone that's behind the scenes, a lot of times and coaching leaders and billion dollar business that is on, you know, decisions and whatever else, right. I mean, just this, you know, the politics, the cutthroat of it all. And I said, yeah, I'm going to take the summer off, but you know, I'm so artsy-fartsy, I just was raised that way. I'm a painter, I'm a singer, I'm a violinist, I'm all this artsy fartsy shit. And I turned it off when I went to business school. So the core of myself, my right brain. Right. I just like stopped it because I'm also a big dork and I'm super competitive and smart. So I was like, I just went to business school and then I did a bunch of professional shit.

Joel (8m 23s):

And modest.

Leigh (8m 25s):

Oh, I know that too. And so I just focus on that left brain for 15 years and when I finally paused it, I ran right back to my true self, which is the artsy-fartsy and so I started HR manifesto again, to give back as a vehicle for that. But as therapy for me, I made, you know, to like just put content out there and to share, but Ooh, art therapy. And so I was doing HR Manifesto for months, not even thinking about monetizing it, not even tying it back to any sort of business whatsoever. I was just doing it for free, like as a purist all of last year. Right. I wasn't making shit from it.

Leigh (9m 7s):

That wasn't the intention. It was just for me to enjoy and to get a cathartic release and to, you know, make people laugh. I just wanted to put edutainment out there. Right.

Joel (9m 19s):

That sounds familiar.

Leigh (9m 20s):

So it's so weird. It was very ass backwards. It's like, I'm not like the typical American.

Joel (9m 25s):

It had to have surprised you when you put out this thing just for fun and holy shit, tens of thousands, hundred thousand people are recognizing it. Did that surprise you?

Leigh (9m 35s):

Oh, it was shocking. Right. I never thought I'd be again, air quotes, you all can see like a "celebrity" right? I mean, people approach me on the street. They want to buy me drinks at the bar. You know, people know that it's me. They take pictures to me of public, which is weird as shit, you know?

Chad (9m 52s):

That's awesome.

Leigh (9m 53s):

I think HR manifesto just on TikTok has had 70 million views. Right across all the content. And so there's the followers, but there's the millions of others that like kind of tip toe in, or they just don't, you know, press the ad or whatever, you know, but they know that they feel, they know me. And so let's blow me away.

Joel (10m 12s):

So obviously people ask you what's the secret to successful TikTok account. Is that your answer? Like, oh, just fuck it. Just have fun. Or do you have you learned a few things and a few tips that you could share with the audience?

Leigh (10m 24s):

Oh, absolutely. And I even have a free digital download. I there's that word again on my website, because I get a lot of emails. I get a lot of comments. I get a lot. I can't keep up. I'm inundated now, but they asked me that, right? Like I want to do what you do. How can I do that? And so I did put a little something together if anyone wants to go check it out. But for me, what you see across my pages is my true, authentic self. And I think that that speaks pretty clearly and loudly, like this isn't fake. This is me talking to my screen, which is talking to myself. I'm an only child. I have a whole lifetime of just talking to a fucking mirror, you know?

Leigh (11m 7s):

So, I mean, I was built for this. Right. And it's easy for me to give my opinion because I've literally been paid to do that my entire career and to confidently do it. So it's taken me a back, but just know I never went into it for it to be a thing, but I am so honored and privileged that people enjoy it. I truly am.

Chad (11m 26s):

Well, let me ask you a question. So for the most part, it looks like your business is focused on consulting for job seekers. Is that correct?

Leigh (11m 35s):

So I do coaching. So that's the primary part. I've done some business consulting as well. Like some fractional CHRO shit, but it's mostly professional coaching. I think we mostly say an HR or you look at all the LinkedIn pages of coaches up career coaching, but what's fascinating is that the people that come to me primarily, and you'll see, I have this HR triage coaching session available. It's people that are in a bad spot. Right? So it's people that need help crafting an exit strategy on how to get out of that toxic workplace. Or my boss said this, what the hell does that mean? Could you interpret this? I just got on a PIP.

Leigh (12m 15s):

What does that mean? Right. So it's people kind of in dire straits. It's also a lot of HR professionals that are like, what the fuck do I do? Like literally, what do I do Leigh? I've never, I don't know what this is. What does this mean? But all the, my clients want me to do X. What is that? How do I, ah, right. They come to me, I've never done this role before. How do I even approach it? And so I coach a lot of HR professionals and I coach a lot of people that are struggling in their current work environments or they're looking for new employment.

Joel (12m 46s):

And is TikTok, the main source of, of those leads and business that you get.

Leigh (12m 49s):

Honestly, I have no idea. Like, I don't even ask. I'm a shit entrepreneur, I'm a shit business person I so am. So I don't track that. I should, you know, I can't tell one way or the other because of just the volume that's coming in. So I would need to like do a form or something behind the scenes on the website to like actually know. All they say is I've seen your content.

Chad (13m 13s):


Leigh (13m 13s):

And the reality is that I hate, I probably shouldn't say this. I hate IG. I love the people on it. I absolutely love the people on it. Like just the tone, the mood of Instagram is fantastic, but it passed me. Right. Okay. I know I went Facebook. The TikTok I passed everything like in between there from a platform perspective. So all I do is recycle the content on the Instagram. I love how Instagram does stories. And so I'll utilize that. And so people that want to get to know me a little better, they seem to go on Instagram and message me there because I've never had the DMs on, on TikTok. When I started it, I've never turned them on. So no one can reach me that way.

Leigh (13m 54s):

You can only reach me through email or through my Instagram.

Chad (13m 59s):

So the reason I asked about job seekers being the main focus for content is that there are so many fucked up HR people that are out there. And I mean, some of it's their fault and some of it's not their fault because they've been brought up in a fucked up system and they need just common sense and guidance and I mean, the little things like, you know, you were actually giving advice to a job seeker around 4 cents per hour, right. Which is just, it's a rounding error for God's sakes. And if you're an HR person, Jesus Christ, would you quit fucking around and just pay the person for goodness sakes? If that, especially if that makes them feel better.

Leigh (14m 38s):


Chad (14m 38s):

It just seems like we have lost all common fucking sense when it comes to HR. Why has that happened? I mean, you've been in some big brands you've experienced it. Why does that human come out of human resources?

Leigh (14m 52s):

Yeah. I mean, that kills me too. And it's all just indicative of culture and culture to me is just a collection of behaviors we accept in an organization. Right. And so you start with those high level leaders and guess what they're hiring the HR folks. And so light hires like, right. So if they're sociopathic narcissist for before, and it sucks, you know, they're more likely to hire people that, you know, will follow suit and just be as heartless and shitty as they are. And I mean, we know we cause you know, the three of us, we're all in, you know, the HR profession, we know how the HR field has just gone through, you know, such progression, especially over the last couple of decades, really, right.

Leigh (15m 36s):

From something more administrative and tactical to now, you know, more strategic and hopefully a value add. But you know, every on that different spectrum, you know, I mean, some folks were an office admin and became an HR professional and other people, they have MBAs and PhDs in this field and area. Right. So, you know, you have a whole competencies spectrum as well. What I love about HR Manifesto or some of the comments that I get that, you know, but people are so open. I love TikTok. Okay. Like TikTok is joy for me. People are so joyful, like 95% of my comments, they are positive as fuck.

Leigh (16m 16s):

And I just love it. Right. So it's a very like uplifting community. It's an empowering community for me. Whereas, you know, you go to Facebook, the fight in the comments, right. You know what I'm saying? Like you, you got to Facebook to let some steam off, but, but TikTok, you know, people are so great, but you know, the folks that are in the comments and they're like, I fucking hate HR, HR, you know, boy, they, you know, my HR is shit, blah, blah, blah. And then I met you HR Leigh, and then you changed my opinion,

Chad (16m 49s):

Those luscious lashes.

Leigh (16m 50s):

Those lashes.

Chad (16m 50s):

And that great voice in the common sense, which we just don't get.

Joel (16m 54s):

The face of HR.

Leigh (16m 55s):

Yeah, no. Oh yeah, yeah. Right. But, but I love that, you know, I mean that boy that brings me so much joy, you know, that I helped somebody realize that, Hey, HR professionals are employees too. That's why it sucks for me to like, you know, I'm suffering too. Fuck. I can't always, you know, influence your leaders, but boy, do I try? I've been fucking fired for it. Shit. I'll go to bat for you. You know, but holy shit, it's not, I'm the decision maker. I'm a support function. And you know, so even just bringing light to just the reality of what even HR is, you know, is so impactful, you know, for my audience, right cause then they know how to partner with them?

Leigh (17m 36s):

Right. And they know kind of what's going down politically in their organizations.

Chad (17m 41s):

You just said something. HR is a support function. And I think that's total bullshit. Because it's HR and talent acquisition, a company doesn't, doesn't run without the heartbeat of talent acquisition without the talent that is actually put in those seats without these salespeople, without the developers, without the engineers, without all of those individuals, that company doesn't fucking run. We're not support. We are the heart. We are the engine of every organization. And the problem is we have so many HR people who feel like it's a support function and that's, that's where we get taken aback. And we find ourselves in the fetal position in the corner. How do we get out of that?

Leigh (18m 18s):

I guess I should've said, I guess I should've said cost center because you know, I feel as on top of the world as HR, I mean, you know, with what I can influence from my leaders, but you know, we're not the core decision makers. We do not, you know, literally you know, the business and that way, you know, it is so hard working in HR to be brave because it's exhausting and it's overwhelming and it takes bravery. It takes fucking courage to be a great HR person. You know, I have been in my leaders faces, you know, I have stood. I stand up if they stand up to me, right. I mean, you have to kind of go to bat sometimes.

Leigh (18m 59s):

you have to, I'm not, I'm not encouraging, fighting or doing a, you know, Will Smith vs Chis Rock or anything. I can only think of two instances where I even raised my voice, you know, in my professional career. But you know, it's all about leaning in and creating, you know, just really deep partnerships with those clients so that you have that credibility and their respect to where they listen to you, right. To where you can get to a point in your relationship where you're like, that was fucking stupid. And here's why, right. Like you need to get that direct with them to help them improve so that they can effectively lead the business and its people.

Leigh (19m 41s):

But yeah, HR shit, we're going to be in the fetal position until HR professionals have the courage, you know, to stand up and be brave and, give leaders what they need, not what they want or not, you know? We're not yes sirs and ma'ams You just can't be in this field, right?

Joel (19m 56s):

Nope. We spend a lot of time in the past couple of years, talking about TikTok as a, I dunno, a tool to find a job almost to the point, even that TikTok has launched efforts to be a job finding center. What's your take on that? And particularly with TikTok resumes and people doing videos, is there a future in that or is it just, you know, kind of fun to talk about, but not real.

Leigh (20m 20s):

Oh gosh. Where I'm at now, to me, it's fun to talk about, but it's not real. And I hope it doesn't become real because I don't know about y'all, but you know, I've been on the LinkedIn and I say, you know, they ask, oh, do a two minute video, you know? And I'm like, fuck you. I'm not applying to that. You know? I mean, and shit, look at me, I'm a damn content creator that has like 400,000 videos out there or whatever it is. I don't even know. You know? And I, and I look at that and I'm turned off and I actually had that skillset. And that's what I don't like about it is that, gosh, you know, are you hiring for videographers? Are you hiring for cell phone tech people? Are you hiring for social media savvy folks then yeah, I do that as part of your hiring process.

Leigh (21m 3s):

But if not shit, you want an accountant, why the fuck would you have them go and do that? You know? So I don't think that's, you know, that's worth the time on either side. Imagine having the view that? Y'all as talent acquisition folks, you know what I'm saying? I mean, God, you have to watch 500 videos now for a roll, they're three minutes. It's like, what? I don't know to me, I just don't know that we have time or want that. And you know, I'm pretty old school. Like I, I don't want to apply to anything that's got that, you know, 20 question intake form. I want you to call me and I want to have a real phone screen discussion with you all. That's there where there's reciprocity, you know, and we can establish a relationship.

Joel (21m 45s):

So you're obviously bearish on TikTok as a job board, if you will. But I've had the contention past couple of years that sites like Glassdoor with employee reviews, where I think we're seeing a lot more people venting on platforms like TikTok and Instagram, I assume you agree. And if so, how should companies monitor, engage with, track things that are being said about them on TikTok? What tips would you give employers to, I guess, monitor what's being said about them?

Leigh (22m 14s):

Yeah. And you know, I don't know that I so much agree because I've had so many HR professionals reach out to me saying, oh, I've always wanted to do what you do, but I'm not, you know, brave enough or I think it's a conflict of interest or I think it this, or I think it's not. And you know, everything on HR Manifesto. So you'll see. I mean, I use, they're all fake names. Some of the incidents are all based on truth. Okay. But some of them are from my experience or my friend's experience or folks that, you know, things that have happened in my network. Right. You'll, you know, you don't know what's come out of any of my previous employers. I would never name that. And so I'm not the type, although I'll give an example of something.

Leigh (22m 57s):

I have a recent video where I shared, you know, somebody called me for a job or about a job. And I asked like about their hiring process and it was like 22 plus hours for the fucking hiring process.

Chad (23m 11s):

Fuck you.

Leigh (23m 11s):

Fuck you. Right. Oh my God. And I'm like, y'all are fucking tripping. They wanted a six hour case study that was a real call I had. And everyone in the comments, I mean, there's probably like a hundred comments that were like, call them out SIS, come on, queen. Like throw them under the bus. Well, that's not what I'm about because I already taught the lesson to y'all. Right. I already shared that. Hey, ask about the hiring process, ask about the time commitment. That's my goal. My goal isn't to run people through the muck. Right. And, I wouldn't do that to me. That is to me, for my brand and me personally, that that would be unprofessional for me. It works. It works for other people, right? I mean, it's hard not to, you know, look at some of those salacious videos and be like, holy shit.

Leigh (23m 52s):

You know, whatever brand, I can't believe you did that. But you know, my advice to companies and to brands is that you have to move along with this. So many of them, they want to ignore that this is our reality now. Right? You see that, you know that they, they, they don't want to be on the TikTok. They don't want to be on any social platforms. They just want to keep piling on social media policies, but guess what their employees are on all these platforms. And you can use those employees to help defend you, you know, on social and help promote you on social and recruit for you on social. I mean, this is our reality, you know?

Leigh (24m 34s):


Joel (24m 35s):

I hope Sherwin-Williams is listening to this.

Leigh (24m 36s):

Oh right. Oh my goodness. But yeah, lean into it would be my advice. Don't fear it. And if you don't know, or have that capability, then reach out to me, shit, partner with someone like me, that can be like, Hey, brand, you know, gosh, you know, here's what I would do here. And here's how this app works. Right. I mean, they just need to educate themselves and they need to lean into it. You know.

Chad (25m 4s):

That's right. Don't fear. The HR Manifesto. This is Leigh Elena Henderson, aka HR Manifesto. Leigh, if job seekers or anybody wants to reach out to you to connect, where would you send them?

Leigh (25m 14s):

Well, you know, exciting things on my side, I redid my website so it doesn't look like shit anymore because the first one, thank you.

Chad (25m 22s):

It's sexy.

Leigh (25m 23s):

The first one I did, and I don't know anything about that space. So you can imagine, but you can, you know, head to my website, You can email me You can DM IG but yeah, anyone is welcome to reach out to me at any time.

Chad (25m 43s):


Joel (25m 45s):

Another one in the can, baby.

Chad and Cheese (25m 47s):

We out.

OUTRO (26m 33s):

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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