Top 100 Influencers v 1.69 Bret Starr
A surprising number of the people who influence the direction of the HR Industry come from Texas. Of course, Austin, with its technology industries (driven by the live music culture) produces a fair share of the ideation. But, Dallas is a major (if not THE major) Recruiting hub. And, all those small towns out in the middle of nowhere seem to produce bright young minds that ache to make a dent in the HR arena.
Apparently, young Texans dream of making music, playing football, drilling for oil, building technology or doing HR. Ask a Texan and they will assure you that it’s in the water, that anything worth doing is worth doing big. From the outside, one wonders if it gets a little boring when ‘the stars at night are big and bright’. Regardless, Alice Texas, somewhere between Laredo and El Paso produced this week’s member of the Top 100 Influencer’s club.
Bret Starr is one of five partners in the nearly legendary HR Marketing firm, Starr-Tincup. William Tincup, the firm’s other named partner, was an early member of the Top 100 group. He has, as they say in Texas, hit the dusty trail. The firm bears both his name, his indelible imprint and a smattering of his DNA..
Of Tincup, Starr says, “I could not imagine a better partner than William Tincup. Our agency is rooted tin the amazing creative work we did together. All I can tell you about William’s future is that it’s going to be fun to watch. The guy can not help but make a lasting impression wherever he goes.
There’s a reason that Starr-Tincup routinely wins honors as a great place to work. Cool policies, great people to work with and interesting stuff to work on. If you haven’t been on the receiving end of their eye opening takes on HR, wander through the website. Starr-Tincup is the freshest view you could imagine. You can get a sense of what they do in Bret’s mantra:
“If your marketing doesn’t make you nervous, it isn’t great marketing.”
The Top 100 interview has several recurring parts. Bio, the current gig, industry trends, technology trends and key industry influencers are the basic topics. Bret wouldn’t be in the information repackaging business if he didn’t have an interesting take on these questions.
On the standard query about the people who influence the industry, Bret said “It’s not a who, it’s a what. Industry media, Vendors, the US Government and the TV show The Office are the key influences in HR today.”
- “About 10% of the people in the business read blogs, go to conferences and, in general, stay up on the trends in the business. The other 90% get their information from this smaller group. Everything you know about best practices and good ideas evolves out of a small universe of people who feed on the industry’s media.”
- “Innovation flows from entrepreneurs to practitioners. Since there is no federal think tank for HR or HRTech, everything that’s interesting emerges from the vendor universe. If you want a fast education about HR and HRTech, meet with one vendor a day for a year.”
- “Tax credits, discrimination laws, disclosure, privacy regulations and a thousand other forms of social and economic manipulation shape the basic HR environment.”
- “The show The Office has made us all ask why we go to work. It’s made the whole culture aware of the results of stupid policies.”
From Bret’s perspective, there are a couple of trends worth really focusing on. He thinks that Rewards and Recognition are the sleeper opportunities in HR. As the economy comes back, focused programs that deliver rewards will be the glue that holds the world together. Employment brands, which have been savaged by the downturn stand little chance of being the backbone of great acquisition programs. He also sees a huge growth in strategic wellness initiatives as they help companies managing spiraling health care costs.
Bret sees a huge wave of single purpose apps with an intense focus on Usability and a sexy user experience headed our way. “The mid market is going to explode as real value comes packaged in single purpose apps designed to consumer standards.” He believes we live in an app world.
Bret Starr is one of the architects of the messages that drive the ways that our industry sees itself. It’s interesting to note that he didn’t mention marketing firms in his analysis. That’s because he’s happier to see his clients get the attention.
- John Sumser
He’s pretty handy with a shovel too. – Julian