Last week, I was sitting at my desk, working hard on the future of hiring at Imagine Careers. I received an email from my friend, Vinay Johar, Founder and CEO of RChilli. They are a resume analytics and parsing company out of Sunnyvale, CA. We use their technology within our platform, and highly recommend it to anyone looking to extract meaningful data out of the resumes and job postings you are collecting.
He notified me of a group I’d never heard of: HRTechTank, which highlights new and emerging HR technology during their demo days. After a little digging and research, I found out that this group hosts 12 events a year all over the world, and had an event happening on November 10th in Chicago! Vinay mentioned that he believed they had one speaking spot available, and introduced me to Andrei Majewski, and HR Technology Entrepreneur and partner at HRTechTank. After a couple of calls and emails exchanged, Andrei gave me the green light to present!
Here we go again! Some of you may remember my 24-hour whirlwind trip a few years ago to NYC at Christmas! Unfortunately, those blog stories are no longer out there, but wow did this past week remind me of that fun-filled day. Let’s get to it!
I knew it was going to be a crazy, awesome trip right from the start. I was texting my friend, Will Allen, former Pittsburgh Steeler and entrepreneur/philanthropist while waiting for my flight. I look over to my right, and I see another friend, Charlie Batch, also a former Steelers and philanthropist, sitting there beside me. Charlie and I start talking, and I find out that he and Will are good friends going back to their days at teammates.
I hopped on my plane and headed to Chicago for the first time in my life. For a guy from a small town called Pleasantville with its one blinking red light – trips like these aren’t something I’m used to doing. I landed at O’Hare and was picked up my colleague Elaine Motyl’s good friend, Mike Rice. I’d never met him before, but he brought me into his home like we’ve been friends for ages. His girlfriend from Columbia made me an authentic Columbian dinner that was AMAZING! I’d drive back just to eat her food again. I also got to talk with her son and learn all about going to elementary school in the city. This great family showed me a glimpse of what people are like in Chicago.
Speaking of Elaine – I must give her a huge shout-out and thank you. She lived for many years in Chicago, and was my travel guide, lining up all the details of my trip. She also used her connections to get me a very cheap flight, which is always appreciated by an aspiring entrepreneur.
After a great night sleep on Mike’s couch it was time for my whirlwind day to begin, starting with a walk to the Metro (aka the Blue Line.) At first, I was almost positive I was going the wrong way – heading blocks away from the station while on a razor tight schedule. I kept true to my course, and much to my relief, I saw the “Popeye’s Chicken” sign that Mike showed me the night before across the street from the Metro. Lesson 1) LISTEN TO DIRECTIONS! I’ve been struggling with that off and on my entire life.
After asking a very kind passerby who was in an obvious hurry how to use the machine to get my train ticket (he paused without even thinking about it and generously helped me), I secured my ticket and was off to the races! …except I couldn’t figure out which hallway out of the 4 I was looking at took me to the train I wanted. Once again, I stopped to ask a Metro worker where to go, and she pointed me in the right direction.
I made it to the train I was trying to catch, and off I go into the city! Which leads me to Lesson 2) If you are ever in Chicago and trying to get from the airport to the city, take the train!! Not Uber, not a taxi, and not a bus. As the train was rocketing along at high rates of speed, the entire highway as far as I could see was wall to wall traffic, gridlocked in many places. Being from Pittsburgh, I would have just tried to hail a taxi or get an Uber. Thank goodness I was directed otherwise by Elaine!
After asking one person (and then re-asking another!) to ensure I get off at the right stop – I managed to hop off at the right place to catch my next vehicle on the journey – a bus. If you can’t tell by now, I never use public transit. While I’m waiting, I decide to run into a coffee shop to grab something to drink. Of course, the moment I pick up my fruit smoothie from the cooler, the bus pulls up outside. I rush out the door in a haste – and of course, the unpaid fruit smooth is still in my hand! I rush back in, set it down somewhere randomly, and just get on my bus.
A few stops later, I confirmed my stop, and I hopped off to walk the remaining distance to my destination for the day: the offices for TrueBlue/PeopleScout in Chicago, a staffing company that connects over 840,000 people a year to work in a variety of industries. A wonderful girl that I can’t remember her name helped me navigate the last few blocks to my destination. Once again – I was blown away by the kindness of people from Chicago towards strangers.
Once inside the TrueBlue offices – I come across the coolest door I have ever seen! I wish I could say “On the other side of this door was my destiny” – but unfortunately, I didn’t actually get to go through it.
Follow us on twitter for part 2 updates! I’ll introduce you to some amazing people I met at HRTechTank that are working hard to change the way that people and companies come together.