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Hosted by Chris Dyer, the CEO of PeopleG2 – TalentTalk Radio features engaging conversation with CEOs, thought leaders and HR executives.  TalentTalk connects professionals who care about talent-related issues and having the cultural mindset to embrace the needed diversity of the workplace.

Today’s guests are Chuck Blakeman, Founder and Chief Transformation Officer of the Crankset Group and Crystal Huang, CEO and Co-Founder of ProSky. To hear the entire show, click here.

On the show today, two extremely passionate entrepreneurs in HR talk about reinventing the processes in the field to make them relevant in today’s emerging work world.

Chuck Blakeman HR

Serial entrepreneur Chuck Blakeman has created about ten businesses across seven industries in four different continents. A supposedly “artsy” guy he went to music school but realized it didn’t interest him. He channeled his creativity into solving problems and becoming an entrepreneur. In his forties he realized that the way he looked at businesses was a little different and that led him to advising small and medium business owners on how to improve their culture and reuniting the workforce.

Over the years, he has seen a shift in the way we work with people and that affects every level of the business, from culture to recruiting. He believes that the industrialized mindset that enforces hierarchies and puts power in the hands of one man doesn’t work in today’s emerging work world. He strongly believes that a majority of the companies are still operating this way simply because they don’t know what else to do. They know it doesn’t work but they continue to carry on the same processes. Thus, Blakeman helps companies figure out a way to break away from these old school mindsets.

“You Get What You Intend, Not What You Hope For”

Blakeman says that more than 90% of CEOs believe in what he calls the Random Hope strategy. They like to think that they’ll work very hard and hope for something good to happen. In his book Making Money is Killing Your Business,” Blakeman writes that people intend to make money. But instead they should intend to solve a problem or do something great in the world around them and in the process they’ll earn money. “It is important to figure out what you intend to do and put your heart into that. Don’t hope for it. Intend to get a life and not money because there are several millionaires who have a ton of money but aren’t happy because they intended to make money and nothing bigger and meaningful,” he explains.

Participation Age

“You’re either an industrial age company or a participation age company,” says Blakeman. Most companies are industrial age companies wherein the decisions are taken by the so-called “smart” guys and the rest of the people simply execute those decisions. This makes the rest of the people extensions of machines that don’t act but simply do what they’re told. Such companies immensely limit the productivity of their people and stop them from contributing to the business. Blakeman says that that there are two approaches. Companies have to decide whether they think people are fundamentally stupid and lazy and they need to be told what to do or they’re fundamentally smart and motivated and they simply need to be included in the game and let loose. Companies believing in the former should blame themselves for creating an environment of suspicion and distrust that makes people stupid and lazy. “But there are companies where everybody has a brain and they are self-managed. In most cases there aren’t even any managers. Nobody works for anybody. Self-managed teams are motivated and achieve the intended results,” says Blakeman.

“Why Employees are Always a Bad Idea.”

In 2013, Blakeman authored a book with an interesting title – Why Employees are Always a Bad Idea.It is about the emerging work world of the participation age. It says that the definition of a modern employee by management guru Frederick Taylor which assumes employees are lazy and stupid is fundamentally bankrupt. Blakeman believes that we have to find another way to approach people. Thus, he suggests that calling people employees is a bad idea. According to him, the name and the concept needs a change. He suggests calling them stakeholders because they should feel like they own a piece of the organization mentally and emotionally, if not physically. In the participation age, these are self-motivated and self-managed adults. The book guides organizations to transform managers into effective leaders who train other people and then get out of the way instead of being the sole decision makers.

What Are You Reading?

Chuck Blakeman is currently reading “Turn the Ship Around!” by David Marquet, a former US Navy Captain. The book introduces a bold new approach to leadership based on the author’s experience turning around a troubled submarine. He gave up the traditional military command model and motivated his crew to become self-managers. This turned the submarine into an award-winning ship and has become an exemplary showcase for a new leadership style.

How Can People Connect With You?

Connect with Chuck via his website

Crystal Huang HR

Crystal Huang is the Founder and CEO of ProSky, a one-stop hub for everything training, hiring and recruiting. The company allows its clients to “test-drive” candidates before hiring them via projects and challenges. As the company is on an aggressive growth path, the biggest challenge they face is maintaining a balance between providing impeccable service to their clients and growing fast.

The business idea for ProSky came about while Huang headed the marketing department at one of the companies she worked with. There was a big round of hiring for the department and they were hiring a large number of candidates from some really good universities. However, Huang realized that the candidates didn’t know much about marketing besides a Tweet or a Facebook update. The company ended up designing an entire training program for these candidates which took up a lot of resources and time. “That’s when I realized that there’s got to be a better way to recruiting candidates and finding people who not only have the skill sets but are also a great culture fit,” Huang explains. Thus, she partnered with her brother who had a similar view on hiring based on his own experiences and together they started ProSky.

Mixing Marketing with Talent Acquisition

In marketing one has to have a great understanding of the audience and then craft the right messaging to attract the audience. Huang’s background in marketing is a big asset in her current field. Her company has successfully worked with the millennials and Gen Z because she feels her team really understands this audience and the kind of platforms they’re using. She believes a lot of HR and HR tech companies are failing in capturing this market because they don’t understand that these young people have a completely different mindset on why they want to be hired and the kind of companies they want to work for. “If you don’t understand where they’re coming from, you’re not going to be able to market effectively to them. And if you don’t market to them effectively, you’re not going to get the cream of the crop. You’re just going to get whoever that comes through,” says Huang.

Standing Out in the HR Tech Space

One thing Huang has observed lately in the HR tech space is that companies are bringing traditional methods and merely digitizing them. According to Huang, it’s like putting a Band-Aid on a wound. That’s not really treating a problem. Thus, what sets her company apart is that it is trying to reinvent the entire recruiting process. They’re trying to think of new ways that can help improve a company’s method of recruiting and hiring the right candidates. “The reason why ProSky has become so relevant in so many companies is that we are not having companies just look at resumes or schedule interviews. We help them see how candidates challenge themselves, manage projects and communicate with each other,” she explains. “During an interview or through a resume, it’s really easy to make oneself look good. But when you’re doing a project or a time challenge with someone it’s very difficult to be at your best behavior the entire time. That’s when you start seeing the cracks and the weaknesses. That’s a good thing because that’s when the hiring managers can figure out whether these weaknesses can survive in their organizations and if they can even be turned into strengths.” Thus, Huang feels that this completely revamped approach to recruiting is what sets ProSky apart from the other companies in the HR industry.

What Are You Reading?

Crystal Huang highly recommends Creating Innovators: The Making of Young People Who Will Change the Worldby Tony Wagner. The book influenced her to take the plunge and become an entrepreneur. In the book, the author has researched some great leaders and innovators of the world and observed what set them apart and how those findings can help build an innovation-driven economy. The other book she really likes is Walt Disney’s biography.

How Can People Connect With You?

Connect with Crystal via email at or or visit her company’s website for more information.