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Editor’s Note: I’d like to welcome Derek Zeller as a MadSourcer Contributing Writer. Derek is currently a Sourcing Lead for RMS Lockheed at RMS Lockheed Martin and a KeyNote speaker.
by Derek Zeller
Feb 12th, 2020

            Let’s face it; there are only a handful of people that attend almost every conference, every single year. Some speak, some moderate panels, some are there to sell their products. All of these people are what make up a conference and the first two are what really draws them in… The third is why the tickets are typically less as they are sponsoring the event. There are, what I like to call ticket sellers. They are specific people that are known based on social media sites and offering free advice on sourcing and recruiting or that branding thing. This year SRSC did something different and I was proud to be part of it as my first time really emceeing not just a track but a mini-conference on sourcing.

They had a great lineup of speakers that I have called friends for many years and some new speakers that I can now call a friend as well. They changed the name of the event to TA Week with all three conferences under that umbrella. The tracks were SRSC, employment branding, sourcing, and my track. Did I mention that I also had a track on how to find candidates without the internet? No? Yeah, I did so not only was the pressure on to be the emcee and handle problems, etc. but I also was tasked to speak. Something I rarely do. I am a writer, I write, public speaking not so much. When I was asked to run the sourcing conference I was honored, and yet as the days grew closer I have to admit I had clenched fists and continuing trepidations as the date closed in.

The reason I care very little for public speaking is the same reason I stopped reading the twitter mob mentality twisting things I say to fit their ego filling mantras. Yeah sorry, not sorry but I did that on the playground when I was twelve! I outgrew it. Seems so many people have not but that is a story for another day I suppose. Nope, this is finally, I know right, the actual story of what went down the day I spoke to a room full people not exactly sure what they were getting in to, hell I know I did not know either.

Conferences LOVE slide decks and if you are speaking about how to do something, I can certainly see the value in it. I know people who “live” for making these “decks” I am not one of those people. Yes, I have made them in the past, but it made little sense to me because what I like to discuss is less about process and procedure, I shiver writing that line, but alternatives to searches and stories. I suppose I could just put up one slide where my posts can be found on sites or just put them all in a book or two, hmmm…there is an idea, anyway back to the point. I want my audience to listen to me, not look at slides they more than likely will not look at when they go back to the office. I want them to go back to the watercooler or coffee machine and pass on the story that affected them most, a take away if you will. Something that moved them or made them think, damn I fell into that trap or groove as well.

When it was my turn to speak I was legitimately shaking, unlike other venues I have spoken at in the past, there were no friendly faces in the crowd to anchor to but one person in the back by the way. (Thank you for that Garrick Chan) I spoke about something that eventually morphed into my thoughts of how I have seen the world has changed over the years. We lost or we are losing our humanity. God help the children being raised by these people who were popular in high school, and life fell out of favor for them so they take to twitter to expel vitriol as though it was sarcasm. Believe me; almost none are successful at it. It’s just sad rhetoric.

I spoke on how to find people without a computer, it’s simple really…start up a conversation with a stranger on a bus, on a train, in an Uber or in a cab. Hell, even in an elevator. You know that awkward ride up or down in building? I sure do now…when I walk into an elevator I introduce myself and say that I am a recruiter and if anyone needed help or is looking for a gig come find me in the hotel bar after 7. Guess what, it has worked.

Anyway, when I did finish telling my stories, all true, about my years in this field of sourcing for PEOPLE, not candidates, that may want to make a change. Being a human being as we are looking for those, right? I don’t know anyone looking for machines or cars to fill roles. We have lost civility, empathy, and caring for our fellow humans. These are not numbers and the people who are in leadership roles should start realizing it so that YOU can carry that torch.

If you want to learn more about what I am talking about give me a shout (email will be included at the end of this article). I have no life so I am happy to chat, or if I am asked to speak again and it is an event where I think could be relevant. I’m not a one-man show that is living in the past 30 years ago; being the keynote speaker at the same show, feel free to then come and spend 45 minutes with me. Look me up on the internet and read some of my stories and if this site will have me…come here for a shorter version of posts.

Lastly, I thought these emails I received that were sent to me over the course of a few days after the conference. Believe me when I say that these words hit me in all the places and it is what inspired me to write this little piece. You see when you act with compassion and have good conversations it will come back to you believe me.  #doggoodandbekind

If you are interested in booking Derek, please email him at  

Email Testimonials

1. Hi Derek, I heard you speak at TA week. You are the best speaker I’ve heard. You connect with the audience! You are real and empathetic. I am going to be speaking in front of 100 laid-off people tomorrow. And I feel their pain. I really do. Give me some tips, please. I hope to hear from you. – Neha Malhotra

2. You rock dude…..I would love to connect with you offline. I want to learn from you.  –Josette Hoffman

3. Hi Derek, I just briefly spoke w/you regarding ideas on how to recruit for The Chicago Housing Authority. As mentioned we are about 70% African American and I need to diversify more and attract other races. I could use any tips that you may have. Also, Karrie and I are interested in speaking at roundtable topics and for me, the “reverse” diversity would be a great subject to tap into. I find that when talking w/other housing agencies are demographics are the same. I look forward to speaking with you, your seminars ROCK!! –Angela Allen

4. Hi Derek! How’s it going? It was such a pleasure meeting you and hearing your perspective on, well, just being authentic. I would love an opportunity to chat with you about this space (TA) which is still relatively new to me. By the way, I absolutely loved your passion, your vulnerability and just the general absence of bullshit in your demeanor and dialogue. It was refreshing. Best! –Claudia Esguerra



By |2020-02-12T16:28:29-06:00February 12th, 2020|Blogs and Articles|0 Comments

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