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You Cannot Hide from AI


Recorded live at the HR Tech Conference from the Fuel50 booth in Las Vegas, this episode features Larry McAlister, a three-time CHRO and author. We discuss his book "The Power to Transform," which serves as a field guide for building a human-centered, tech-enabled work culture. The episode also covers various topics, including the importance of HR technology, the need for HR professionals to embrace technology, and the impact of generative AI on the industry. Larry emphasizes the importance of self-care for job seekers and offers advice on how to make oneself more marketable in the evolving job market. The podcast also touches on the potential ethical issues and risks associated with AI in recruiting. Larry can be found on LinkedIn or at his website, LarryMcAlisterBook.com, and his book is available on Amazon. To learn more about Fuel50, visit https://fuel50.com.


PODCAST TRANSCRIPTION sponsored by:


Chad: Coming to you live from the Fuel50 booth at the heart of HR Tech, it's the Chad and Cheese Podcast. We are diving deep into the world of HR technology, tackling workforce challenges with innovative solutions. And we'd like to give special thanks to Fuel50, the science-based talent marketplace that bridges skills gaps, unlocks hidden potential and supports better retention and engagement. Let's do this.

Intro: 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: Oh, yeah. What's up everybody? It's your sportsbooks favorite podcast, AKA, The Chad and Cheese Podcast. I'm your co-host, Joel Cheeseman joined as always, the Bellagio to my Venetian, Chad Sowash. We're recording live from the...


Chad: All about the balance.


Joel: Fuel50 booth At HR Tech in Las Vegas. And we are just giddy to welcome Larry McAlister, three times CHRO and bestselling author to the podcast.


Chad: He owns a sandwich shop, doesn't he? McAlister?


[overlapping conversation]


Joel: They have a great roast beef, yes.


Larry: That one has two Ls.


Joel: Great roast beef.


Larry: I only have one L. My dad said only the rich one got two Ls so that's why it's one.


Chad: Oh, okay. So you had to back off a little bit.


Joel: A lot of our listeners don't know who you are. Give him a quick Twitter bio about what makes Larry tick.


Larry: Yeah. So I worked for Fortune 500 companies doing transformation, a technology transformation making sure...


Joel: Do you want a name drop?


Larry: NetApp and Equinix were the last two I worked at, the biggest data center company in the world and NetApp is now a big cloud company. Changing the way that managers and employees work together and completely transforming how HR acts inside a company. And people told me, "You should write a book, you should write a book, you should write a book." I was like...


Chad: A book?


Larry: Okay. I'll write a book.


Chad: Okay.


Larry: Good idea.


Chad: I'll write a book. That's a lot of work, Larry. I mean, you... I'm sure we're already...


Joel: Talking into a mic is much easier.


Chad: Yes, it is, right? Just transcribe that shit. So there's a lot of research that I'm sure you had to do for the book, but you were probably already doing that. Talk a little bit about what researching for the book actually brought out that you just didn't know before.


Larry: Yeah, that's great. So what I try to do is not make it a research theoretical book.


Chad: Okay.


Larry: It's called "The Power to Transform: A Field Guide." So I want to just tell you how I did it.


Chad: Gotcha. Okay.


Larry: If you know me and you read the book, you're like, that's Larry's voice.


Chad: Nice.


Larry: I want to... Third grade level reading, that's my goal and I cheated a little bit.


Chad: I think you're having to drop down a level for Cheeseman.


Joel: That's my... Were there cartoon pictures as well?


Larry: There are some photos in there.


Joel: Yes.


Larry: You can point and...


Chad: The coloring book.


Larry: Draw all it in a book.


Chad: Yeah, Joe likes the coloring book.


Larry: So the idea is just to help people say, I could do transformation. I don't have to go pay some big company a million dollars to help me do it and then they leave and you're left with nothing. Just follow this book, follow these 300 pages and you can do transformation for yourself and put HR on the map.


Chad: Yeah. What's the biggest piece of transformation that is not happening today? 'Cause transformation is a very long process.


Larry: And a big one.


Chad: There are many steps, 300 and some odd pages for God's sake.


Larry: Yeah, yeah, 280. Yes.


Chad: What 10 pages in there is the most important that just isn't happening?


Larry: I think I call it the golden loop. Everything has to be connected. So you come to HR Tech, you go buy a piece of technology, turn it on and have this idea, build it and they will come. They will not come. You have to have an established digested talent strategy that technology propels. So there's no way you just turn it on. So I say, "Hey, how do you activate yourself? How do you activate the team? How do you activate the enterprise and how do you activate the future?" Those are the four tenets of transformation. Build technology to go all around that. Fuel50, I write about in the book, they were our enterprise-wide solution. Everyone in the company felt they could grow during the pandemic from their kitchen table. Thanks to technology that supported the strategy and not just something I turned on and said, "Ho get them, guys." And at the time, we were the number one fastest adopter of Fuel50.


Joel: Yeah. I feel like there's a little bit of a backlash on technology in that there's so much noise. We're here at HR Technology. Rows and rows...


Chad: It's hard.


Joel: And rows and rows of companies that will change your life.


Chad: It's a sea.


Larry: It is a sea.


Joel: I feel like the reaction is let's just keep our LinkedIn licenses. [laughter] Talk about the clutter and what companies are facing with that 'cause I think it's a real problem.


Larry: I agree with the noise. So generative AI is going to be the fastest and most impactful technology in our lifetimes, probably since Fire.


Joel: Are you saying more than QR codes?


Larry: More than QR codes.


Joel: Wow.


Larry: More than the internet, more than your phone.


Joel: Mind blown.


Larry: So the good news is, wow, you can just go, if you have an AI and an API, you can build a booth here. The question that you have to solve is you're not shopping around to figure out what people have. What are you trying to solve? What is the problem you as an HR person is trying to solve? Define your problem. Then what I did is I had an HR tech parade. I brought in 16 vendors and said, here's the three problems we're trying to solve.


Joel: That sounds fun.


Larry: And we just brought them through technically.


Chad: It sounds more like a circus.


Larry: A little bit, but one, you're like, oh my God, I don't know anything. My mind was blown, but two, you get to compare and contrast right next to each other all day long. So that's in the book as well. Find out what you need, what's the problem? These guys don't sell solutions a lot of times. They just say, "Hey, look how cool my baby is. I'm the founder. Look at my pretty baby." I'm like, "I don't care about your baby. Solve my problem."


Chad: Or it's a solution to a problem that doesn't exist or it's not a priority.


Larry: Or a priority.


Chad: Yes.


Larry: So you're like, wow, this is cool. If you buy the shiny object, it's going to get dull very fast.


Chad: Yes.


Larry: If you're solving a problem you've already identified and talked about to your employees and say, "Now, we talked about growth in your career. Here's the tool that's going to help you do that", that makes it much more powerful...


Joel: The people you're talking to, are they wanting one solution, one ring to rule them all? 'Cause we see a lot of companies trying to do everything for everybody.


Chad: The easy button, baby.


Joel: But then obviously we have integrations and I have my favorite text recruiting solution, I have my favorite chat bot. Is that what people are leaning toward or are they looking for the one solution for everything?


Larry: Maybe next year there'll be more people coming together. I know a couple of these guys are selling together, three different companies selling on the same piece of paper, but you need a tech stack. There is no... It used to be go get people soft in the old days. Those days are over. These guys in this place here can innovate way faster than a Workday or an SAP, so you have to build a tech stack absolutely.


Chad: So around that tech stack, one of the things that we've seen over the years is that there is so much redundancy because many of these core systems, these applicant tracking systems, they're acquiring companies, they're adding things and then they still have point solutions that are redundancies. When, and it is, is there in your book a point where you say, look, start with a clean sheet, blow this whole damn thing up and build from the ground up?


Larry: Absolutely. So you're always going to have your basic HCM. People data are always going to be there.


Chad: Core, core. Yeah.


Larry: You have to have that.


Chad: Recordkeeping, the things that you have to do. Yes.


Larry: And with all these companies pull the data from, and give you ideas of what to do with your employee. So there's going to be a moment when you're going to say, all right, I have to get onboarding done. You have to do it. You buy the onboarding tool, it fits into your story, and then a year later, you're like, damn, there's someone better now. You're going to face it. There's no way that you're going to pick a solution now that's not going to be leapfrogged in a year or two, but you got to solve the problem today. What is your bigger problem?


Chad: But we don't do that though. We keep what we've had forever and we close our eyes.


Larry: It's over.


Chad: And we say we've got it all figured out, but tech is fluid, the market is fluid, but these companies have not been fluid. So how much of the time should CHROs, VPs of TA, how much time should they be taking to reassess?


Larry: Double what they're doing now.


Chad: Okay.


Larry: Double what they're doing now.


Joel: So two minutes. [laughter]


Chad: High five.


Larry: High five. Perfectly delivered.


Joel: Like a high five.


Larry: No, it is good. So when I said generative AI is changing the world, it literally is and the bots aren't going to take your jobs. It's the people who know how to use this technology who are going to take your job. So if you're not thinking of a tech augmented reality, tech augmented leadership, tech augmented organizations, if you're not thinking that, you will be bypassed, your employees will leave you. Think about people coming out of college right now. They think that... They walk into a company and that's old antiquated HR technology we have to deal with. This is horrible. I have a free app at home that is 10 times faster than those.


Chad: Yeah.


Larry: So we have to as HR folks be... If you are not an HR person anymore, you are a technologist who sits in the CHRO seat, so be a technologist, be a transformation expert, start breaking glass. Some of it you're not going to be able to sweep up, but you have to start breaking glass today.


Joel: Are you calling for term limits in the CHRO position, 'cause I feel like that's where you're headed with some of this?


Larry: Yeah, I think absolutely. Even boards have to start thinking about, what are you doing to move the needle on those?


Chad: Well, that's the problem though, I think, Larry, is that our CHROs are looking at themselves as cost centers, not the beating heart of the organization and when they need to go get that, they need more money to build the tech stack to be able to get the talent that the company actually needs, they're afraid to go ask.


Larry: I agree.


Chad: And they shouldn't be afraid. They should be bold but we're not. Why?


Larry: Because people don't realize we're in the golden age of HR technology. We have caught up to everything else. Remember Salesforce, everyone went and spent all this money on Salesforce. We can do it now. Our people technology now is as good as any other technology. And if you're worried about getting budget, then you're worried about the same old stuff you're always worried about, what's our turnover, what's our time to fill? You can solve all of those problems with generative AI now. So I think the idea is build a strategy, bring in the technology to enable that strategy and that's true transformation over the long-term.


Chad: Yeah, but the problem I think though, Larry, is that those metrics that you just talked about, the C-suite, they don't give a shit about that. What we should be doing is demonstrating how that impacts the bottom line.


Larry: It's so easy to do that now. Yes, Fuel50, I also work with BetterUp. They're able to show... For BetterUp is coaching, right?


Chad: Okay.


Larry: They show salespeople in your organization who were coached versus those salespeople who weren't coached have bigger sales deals, faster sales cycles.


Chad: Do they retain?


Larry: And they retain...


Chad: They say less turnover.


Larry: And they're more productive. You go straight to the bigger revenue. You can prove better revenue. How does that not get to the board?


Chad: And if you've got less turnover, then you've got less open positions and open positions only mean lost revenue.


Larry: Lost revenue, lost activity.


Chad: And we're not talking about that lost revenue, right?


Larry: HR can now walk into the board and say, "I can give us better revenue, I can have more productive innovation and get products out the door faster." We can now prove that.


Chad: Hot damn, Larry. Hot damn.


Larry: We can prove it.


Joel: Are they going to have those conversations?


Chad: That's the question.


Larry: They have to.


Chad: That's the question.


Larry: They have to.


Joel: Yeah, I think they have to.


Larry: So technology first, CHRO second. That's where we are.


Joel: Back to what you said on skills augmentation. A lot of listeners in the past 12 months have been laid off, whether it's downsizing, right sizing. We're automating your stuff, we're offshoring it, we're outsourcing it. If I'm at home right now, I've been unemployed, I want to get back into the workforce, what skills, what actions would you recommend they take to make themselves much more marketable than they were a year ago?


Larry: What if you're laid off? It's about self-care, it's not about you. You have to care about yourself. Work out, do stuff for yourself, keep your head straight. It's not you that you're not getting the job, and a lot of times it's the company. That's just one. Always focus on self-care when you're laid off. Two is, I have a list that I've sent to 20 laid off people of ways that you can use generative AI to help with your resume, to control your interviewing, to practice your interviewing. You can get... One of the guys who's a recruiter who used to work for me and got laid off. He went and got his prompt engineering certificate. He's like, "I'm just going to learn how to do this."


Chad: There's a certificate?


Larry: Yes, prompt engineering.


Joel: Was that a linkedin learning course?


Larry: I'm sure they have it.


Joel: I'm sure they have it.


Larry: I'm sure they have it, but I think it was out of Kellogg or Yale or something like that. So you have to know what generative AI is. You cannot hide. Even if you're just playing around with ChatGPT, there's thousands of them, but you, no matter what job you're going into, no matter where you are in the world, if you're laid off, you need to understand generative AI and play with these tools and understand what it is.


Chad: Bard, Claude, all of them.


Larry: Yeah, but even Bard's a great one. Just figure it out and get certificated, if that's even a word, in some of these tools 'cause you can't... Recruiters aren't looking at your resume anymore. It's a freaking bot that's looking at your resume.


Joel: Yeah.


Larry: I had one woman who put a job description to ChatGPT, then put her resume into ChatGPT and said, "How do I make my resume apply to this more to make me the best candidate?" Resume, better. So what five questions are they going to ask me and how do I best answer them?


Chad: Was she hired? That's the question.


Larry: She was.


Chad: There you go. There it is, there it is.


Larry: That's the only reason I tell that story. It's the only reason I tell that story.


Joel: Let's flip the script 'cause you brought that up. Look, there's a lot of news and buzz around new AI tools where I can apply to hundreds, if not thousands of jobs with my new bot friend. How is the community, the employer space going to react, adjust, evolve to handle this new reality?


Larry: If you're faking your resume 20 years ago, you're still going to get called out. [laughter] So if you're faking your resume now, you're still going to get called out. You can just fake it faster.


Joel: Yeah.


Larry: So the idea of getting to an interview is still the most important thing and that's a human interviewing you. So generative AI and technology doesn't replace the human being. It gets you to this human interaction faster and with better data. So you can play around, but once you get to that interview and you're asked real questions, you still have to have the proof, you still have to have the proof.


Joel: Yeah.


Larry: So I think there's ethical stuff we're going to deal with. We're going to go inside and outside of Congress.


Chad: Oh yeah.


Larry: There's all that coming.


Chad: We Just had the EEOC commissioner in this seat.


Larry: Is that right?


Chad: Yeah, exactly.


Larry: They're scared. I saw a lawyer...


Joel: A tough act to follow, Larry.


Larry: Yeah, I know. [laughter] I saw a lawyer...


Joel: That's one hell of a fluffer.


Larry: At a different... [laughter] A lawyer at a different commerce just stood on the stage and said, "You're at risk." That's how we started, "You're at risk." It's always on you. It's not about the technology.


Chad: I mean, yeah, it was...


Larry: But we're always at risk.


Chad: Always at risk.


Larry: But I see you have a question.


Chad: So what's the name of the book again, Larry?


Larry: It's called "The Power to Transform", and it's a field guide to building a human-centered, tech-enabled work culture.


Chad: And that is Larry McAlister, everybody.


Joel: Thank you, guys.


Chad: Larry, if people want to actually connect with you...


Larry: Just come to LinkedIn, larrymcalisterbook.com or LinkedIn, 1C1L. We're the poor ones. [laughter] We don't have extra letters. So that's how you can find me. Larry McAlister on... And our LinkedIn's the quickest way.


Joel: And I'm guessing Amazon has some...


Larry: Amazon has the book.


Joel: Yeah, there you go, there you go.


Chad: Amen.


Larry: Buy it now.


Joel: Buy a used copy at a discount, everybody. [laughter] Another one in the can, Chad. We out.


Chad: We out.


Outro: Wow. Look at you. You made it through an entire episode of The Chad and Cheese Podcast, or maybe you cheated and fast-forwarded to the end. Either way, there's no doubt you wish you had that time back, valuable time you could've used to buy a nutritious meal at Taco Bell, enjoy a pour of your favorite whiskey, or just watch big booty Latinas and bug fights on TikTok. No, you hung out with these two chuckle heads instead. Now go take a shower and wash off all the guilt, but save some soap because you'll be back. Like an awful train wreck, you can't look away. And like Chad's favorite Western, you can't quit them either. We out.

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