S4 E22 Have You Met… Barb Ruess

Chris Hoyt 0:20
So this is for anybody might be listening. This is kind of an interesting, a lot of a lot of dead air there for us. But this is an interesting one because normally we do our our interviews in podcasts on video. And so this is just audio.

Barb Ruess 0:30
That’s right. Normally, we would also cut out that dead air part.

Chris Hoyt 0:33
That’s right. We put that out afterwards in post production, but we have a candidate at this time,

Barb Ruess 0:38
that’s okay.

Chris Hoyt 0:40
A lot of excitement here. So, so far, do you know who our guest is today?

Barb Ruess 0:46
From my understanding It’s me.

Chris Hoyt 0:54
Yes, it’s you.

Barb Ruess 0:57
Nice sound effects!

Chris Hoyt 0:59
Thanks. So I’ve actually I’m going to be a pro at this. I’m pretty excited about it.

Barb Ruess 1:03
Yeah, it’s a whole new career.

Chris Hoyt 1:04
Yeah, well so it occurs to me bar we have done these up next series and these interview series over the last year or so. And we, you know, where we learn a little bit more about talent acquisition leaders and folks that are part of our membership and we connect with them and we learned about what you know what’s on their mind and the you know, the phrase we like to use what’s keeping them up at night, and we learn a little bit about them as people but we don’t typically sort of aim the spotlight back at our own our own team members and and I think you’ve been with CXR certainly longer than I have been with CXR. But damn near since the beginning, right.

Barb Ruess 1:44
Yeah, darn near. Yep. 10 year, not quite all time. I knew Gerry and his partner at the time Mark when they first started it, but I did start working with him for a few years after that.

Chris Hoyt 1:56
Yeah. And so what was, well cuz this is CXRs We’re going in our 25th year. But But you came on talk to us like, cuz I want to get to what you do today. But talk to me a little bit about so you were kind of in the shadows you were you were the muscle behind the screen you were. What is the Wizard of Oz?

Barb Ruess 2:15
I was like The Wizard of Oz? I like the wizard, that’s that was me.

Chris Hoyt 2:22
So what did you do, then? It’s different, necessarily than what you did now? Or how is it different outside of you know, the last, you know, six years or so people getting to meet you?

Barb Ruess 2:31
Yes, that’s true. I finally got to come out from behind the curtain and mostly clean myself up enough. So I got to know, Mark and Gerry at the very beginning of this whole internet, but at the very beginning of really the internet, not to mention internet recruiting. I used to be on the speaking circuit as well talking to employers about it, like I’m running into them at event so when I decided to leave the pressure walls, I had young child and the second one on the way and decided I wanted to be a little more flexible with my time. Mark and Gerry will come first people that I called to see if I could do some work for them. And before I got that complete sentence out of my mouth, Mark said, You’re hired. And I said, Oh, that’s great. We haven’t even talked about what you’d like me to do for you. And he said, Oh, we’ll figure it out as we go along and a pretty good description for what I’ve always done at CareerXroads.

Chris Hoyt 3:27
Do we do we find it a little interesting? That’s the hiring process for an organization that is built around on talent acquisition professional.

Barb Ruess 3:34
Hey, in all fairness, they had known me for years.

That’s true. That’s true. Yeah. Yep. So yeah. Yeah, when I first started, I was doing very basic, very basic marketing, communications work, a little bit of PR, a little bit of sort of direct mail. We weren’t even really so much that we were still feeling out what we were that I don’t even know. But I would call it the community. So it’s helping to establish what our brand identity might be. I did a lot of pitches to get Gerry’s speaking gigs, stuff like that. That’s what I started doing and clearly he’s had his evolved into quite a different role today.

Chris Hoyt 4:16
Yeah, because you’re titled today outside of we joked internally, you’re, you know, the muscle, the VP of muscle. Yeah. But what’s your role today?

Barb Ruess 4:25
Yeah. So today, I would say I oversee all of marketing, marketing communications and membership management. That might be as easy umbrella. You know, we’re a small company. So we all wear a lot of hats, who are certainly things that I do that fall out of that, but I plan all of the events, whether they’re virtual or in person, I handle all of that aspect of it. I do a ton of membership management, and I love it, whether it’s doing a membership onboarding, or a refresher training course with our members. You know, fielding questions, how can people get signed up for things. Monitoring renewal to make sure people don’t lose access, things like that, and then I also, you know, do if there’s a written word for CareerXroads, it probably has come from my fingers and my keyboard. So I do a lot of a lot of communications from newsletters to emails to website copy to name it.

Chris Hoyt 5:17
Well, you and if it didn’t come from your fingertips, it certainly goes through your eyes. With you know, Gerry and I might write something or Shannon might write something and it certainly goes to you to give it a good look and then scheduling. Right from a content delivery standpoint.

Barb Ruess 5:33
Yeah, as far as Yeah, as far as the blog goes, I’m more of an editor you guys are the writers on the editors for the blog.

Chris Hoyt 5:40
So we are a small but mighty team. But I did not I did not bring anything outside of participation right my hair club for men line I looked, you know, the member before I was president, but so about I guess we’re going on about six years five or six years ago. I think was talking to mark as, as our listeners know, and as our members know, Mark retired A number of years ago and I took took over Mark’s half of the business. And you were an unknown entity to me. And I had I had known of you just just barely very topically from Mark saying that while they had this woman that organized some of the events and took care of some, you know, scheduling things in terms of, you know, getting the not just the logistics of the meetings done, but also, like you said, the speaking gigs and the conferences and that kind of thing. And I’d have to meet her and decide if I want to keep her on board. And I remember, uh, you tell the story way better than I do. But I remember. I was already going to, I think it was in Chicago. And we were supposed to meet to just kind of talk about so that I could wrap my arms in my head around sort of the work that you do, and we ended up meeting it was it a bakery?

Barb Ruess 7:00
It was a little deli/bakery in Northwest Indiana. Because I like to tell people that one of the reasons I applied to step a little bit out of, you know, big corporate worlds because I put my kids first. So mama mom first, right? And my son, my son’s football team made the Super Bowl for his junior football league. And I wasn’t going to be able to get into the city for lunch, and I didn’t want to miss the game. So you guys, I convinced you to meet me halfway. So we met at a little deli in Northwest Indiana,

Chris Hoyt 7:29
which was fun. I remember I still remember the deli, we sat against the wall. Yep. Sort of over in the corner and Gerry, just kind of sort of an observer is sort of a bird on a perch. As until we connect, and I just remember sort of unfolding. What I became to understand as your role was much larger and certainly more impactful than I think, you know, originally I had not once you’re certainly doing a ton of work behind the scenes, which was which was pretty impressive then and I think even more impressive now. Thanks. So it’s good. Keep it You got it. You got a you got a little bit of trouble on your way to the meeting, didn’t you?

Barb Ruess 8:05
Oh, that is SO UNFAIR, yeah, I’ve never met you before. Everything was very up in the air. As far as what’s going to happen with CareerXroads, even though I’d been there for such a long time. I was walking into it assuming Oh, here’s a guy from Pepsi. He’s got all kinds of connections and all kinds of people from the marketing world. He’s not going to want to to keep me on he’s going to want to put his own stamp on it. So So yeah, I’ll be honest, I was my son’s game going into overtime. So I was running a little late. And in the back of my mind, I was thinking, I can’t believe I’m racing across town to go meet some guy who can tell me he doesn’t want me to work for him. And then I got a speeding ticket.

Chris Hoyt 8:54
But it turned out okay. Yeah, yeah. So you are So you’ve been with the organization awful long time, love the work that you do what? Talk to me about something share with our audience, because our members have really gotten to know you in the last couple of years, because now for the last few years, you’ve been coming to all of the meetings, and you’re, you’re certainly a value add and tell them something that they may not no like other than the members who get to sit with you at dinner or the you know, connect with you. You know, over the course of the two day meetings, we tell them something they may not know. I mean, I know a couple of things about you, because we’ve been working together but what what might be something you’d share that you kind of do outside of work.

Barb Ruess 9:32
Oh, outside of work, some people in my house might argue that I don’t do enough things outside. It’s so funny to me, just a little side note, all these people who are suddenly working from home that have never had to work from home. And they say things to me, like I just it’s just so hard because you can always see your office. You can always see your laptop. It’s just so hard to shut it off. And I was like I know tell me about it. I’ve been wanting to go home for 20 years.

Chris Hoyt 10:02
It’s disipline, definitely

Barb Ruess 10:03
Some days I’m better at it than other days. That’s okay. I’m sure I’ll talk about a couple of things I like to do. So and I won’t even go I won’t even play the mom cards because you know at our meetings, one of the first introductory exercises we always do is tell people to to share something interesting about themselves. And we try to encourage them not to talk about the kids or their pets because we all have kids, and or pets most likely so won’t even play that card. I will talk about I made a decision. Four years ago now, I am fortunate enough. I live in Northwest Indiana. I live about 45 minutes outside of Chicago and I live 20-30 minutes south of beautiful Lake Michigan. And I’ve always enjoyed going to the lake whether it was taking my kids there when they were little and hanging out in the beach, or just going on hikes when I could and so four years ago I made a little commitment to myself that once a week, I was going to take myself up to Lake Michigan I’m going to pick a trail and I was going to hike. And I’m actually I’m pretty proud of the fact that i i do that almost every single day. I go on a hike up at Lake Michigan and last week I actually counted I made it 47 out of 52 weeks.

Chris Hoyt 11:14
Oh, wow, you even hike. When we’re on our meetings when we go to our meetings, you either run or walk or hike early in the morning.

Barb Ruess 11:21
I do. I’ve always been a bit of a morning person and I am a big believer in getting fresh air. And well, one of the things I love about our meetings are the dinners and the conversations that happen after the dinners. That’s a lot of late nights and certainly a little bit more red wine drinking than I might normally do on a Tuesday or Wednesday night. I have found that it is worth getting myself out of that bed in the morning. And even if it’s just you know, taking a quick 20-30 minute walk before I get ready for meeting days. That fresh air means a lot to me and and I love to travel. So it’s actually kind of a cool way to get to see some of the different communities that we’re in

Chris Hoyt 12:00
Oh, that’s nice. Well, so now, you post typically I follow you on Instagram. So you typically post a picture of your hikes. But there’s but there’s something else you’ve been posting this month. That’s a little different than than what you typically post Do you want to do you want to talk a little bit about your appreciation for special days.

Barb Ruess 12:19
I will I hashtag stay at home holidays. Thank you very much. We’re a busy family. So you know, this is one of the things that I do for CareerXroads is, is I juggle a lot of balls and I keep things organized and I keep things moving and schedules and all that sort of thing. I do that same thing at my house. So we have a big dry erase calendar in our kitchen, you know, they’ve got a different colored marker so that we can always kind of keep track of where everybody’s going, and when and with the whole stay at home order. When I updated my calendar for April. It was stark white, there was not a color on it because nobody was going anywhere. With it my oldest he was in the kitchen with me at the time. she’s a she’s finishing her junior year in college. And I said, Katie, this is the most depressing calendar I’ve ever seen. And she said, Mom, we should look up all those Goofy, random national holidays and put one on every day. And I was like, Oh, totally, I said, and we’ll take a picture and they have a whole series of stay at home holidays. So yes, every day this month, we have found a little something to celebrate. And we have posted a picture today. April 24, is National Pigs in a Blanket day. So after my hike, I came home and made Pigs in a Blanket for me and the kids

Chris Hoyt 13:43
I love pigs in a blanket day. But there’s you telling me there’s actually a national holiday for every single day.

Barb Ruess 13:50
Oh, we had, you know what, most days we actually had choices to make, believe it or not.

Chris Hoyt 13:56
I’m not sure how I’m not sure how I feel about that.

Barb Ruess 13:58
Yeah, it’s ridiculous. To be perfectly honest, it’s ridiculous but it’s been a little something fun for us to look forward to. And what’s cracking me up is I’ve had a number of my friends like if I don’t text if I don’t post something, you know before a certain time of the day I’ll have some of my friends will text and they’re like, we’re looking for your stay at home holidays post. It always makes me smile. So now I feel like I gotta keep it going.

Chris Hoyt 14:21
Do you think that’s something you can sustain all year?

Barb Ruess 14:24
Oh, gosh, no, I’m really I actually wasn’t hoping I didn’t want to do it past April. I’ve had enough people asked me if I would keep doing it that maybe I’ll keep doing it until the stay at home order is listed but

Chris Hoyt 14:38
oh my gosh, I feel like maybe that’s already an Instagram account that maybe does that everyday already?

Barb Ruess 14:44
Yeah, somebody somewhere I’m sure does

Chris Hoyt 14:46
It could be, also on your Instagram on occasion. There’s some stuff in there about you cooking.

Barb Ruess 14:50
Yeah. Oh, yeah.

Chris Hoyt 14:56
You make your own pasta, which is pretty incredible.

Barb Ruess 14:58
I do make my own pasta. Yeah, so I’ve got some Italian roots. My mom’s parents came over on the boat so to speak. So actually wasn’t on my take literally came over on a boat. And I when I was growing up, one of my jobs every week was to go to my great aunt Mary’s house, and to clean her house and basically keep her company and she taught me how to speak Italian of which I don’t remember a single word, sadly. But she taught me how to cook. So I do remember that and I do I make my own sauce from scratch and there’s no pasta from scratch. I’m pretty brave in the kitchen. So I will try just about anything. And yeah, I like to think that during this whole stay at home, my family is still eating pretty well. So

Chris Hoyt 15:46
Wow, what’s your favorite dish?

Barb Ruess 15:50
Um, that’s a very good question. It’s definitely going to be in the Italian line of things. It might be making grilled pizza. I make My own dough from scratch at the dough and the sauce. So yeah, so I really like that. And then I’ve got a my aunt called it noodles Romano hook that up a pasta dish with basically a cream based sauce that I’ll make with seafood that’s always a big hit around here as well.

Chris Hoyt 16:17
It sounds delicious. I don’t I don’t know how to make any of that. I’m just now getting sort of into the cooking thing. So I know occasionally I’ll ask you something that you give me so much information. And it feels very overwhelming. And you go, Oh, it’s simple. It’s easy.

Barb Ruess 16:29
Just take it one step at a time Chris it’s just like anything else. One step at a time. And then all of a sudden,

Chris Hoyt 16:36
oh my gosh. So I want to ask you do you have Do you have a favorite CXR memory?

Barb Ruess 16:44
I mean, there’s, there’s always a ton of good memories. Some of them are of the after hours, variety, maybe. Or maybe some exploring in Seattle that happens. You won’t name any names. Passing by the passing there and caused people to sit down on the sidewalk there have been

Chris Hoyt 17:08
I think I was there but I don’t remember.

Barb Ruess 17:11
Yeah, you might have you might have been yeah. Gosh, but it’s funny I mean it I eat meeting has its own energy it is its own style and I love going to different hosts and getting to see different campuses and different work environments and you know some of them certainly stick out as being some pretty amazing places to get to visit. I feel like Nike’s campus is probably if not at the top of my list certainly towards the top of my list that campus is amazing. There’s a place I’d like to be able to go work out at before we have our meeting.

Chris Hoyt 17:49
Yeah, no kidding the campus is beautiful.

Barb Ruess 17:51
Yeah, that campus is beautiful, but even like, you know, just even the different campuses that are better downtown or the different areas or places that we that we get to be and the communities that we get to see and experience. You know, one of the things I really liked that we started doing last year is our CXR, Cares initiative, which because again, like I said, I love to travel, I like to get to know different areas and different places. And the fact that it’s an idea inspired by you this and the fact that we get to go to these communities now we get to do some community service while we’re there. I think it’s been great. Like when we were in DC, last fall, and we’re literally two blocks from the Capitol Building. So like, we’re right in the heart of, you know, everything I got to go work out on the National Mall every morning that we were there and yet we walked less than 10 minutes in the other direction and we were in that historic homeless shelter. And oh, yeah, yeah.

Chris Hoyt 18:47
Yeah. So there was a Oh, gosh, it was a men’s men’s shelter, right. four minute rest of it.

Barb Ruess 18:54
It was a Yeah, as a mental facility. But remember, I think they said it started in the Civil War.

Chris Hoyt 18:58
Mm hmm. It was incredible. We returned the beds, right? Do we think there’s some like 300 some odd beds a night for folks in that shelter? And we were able to sort of flip those?

Barb Ruess 19:10
Yeah, we did.

Chris Hoyt 19:11
Yeah.

Barb Ruess 19:12
Yeah, we’ve got some pretty fun experiences like that. Always remember working next to Gerry in the food pantry in Chicago when he very proudly sorted all the peanut butter.

Chris Hoyt 19:24
Sure, it was a lot of peanut butter.

Barb Ruess 19:25
It was a lot of peanut butter. But yeah, I really like those initiatives that we get to do but I would have to say probably and you know, it certainly doesn’t hurt that it was within the past year, but probably two I would say my two favorite memories and or meeting experiences would have to be our hundredth of meeting that we got to do in Orlando. That was a lot of fun. It was fun that our second night dinner. We handed everybody a gift card and let everybody loose in Epcot to eat around the world as they will And I that night I contend with anybody anybody who listening knows Roger Coker was a member at the time. great big guy. He kind of looks like a really tall Santa Claus.

Chris Hoyt 20:10
I think he does. He’s got a heart of gold just like Santa, that’s for sure.

Barb Ruess 20:14
Yes, He sure does. Well, he had never been there before. And I convinced Roger to go on the ride soaring with me. So that wasn’t my favorite. He loved it. That was my favorite memories from that night and then we all got to watch fireworks. Remember, we all got to sit out by the little lake at Epcot and watch fireworks. That was a really fun one. And then it is hard to beat up a E&J Gallos hosting our meeting last fall when we had dinner in the Redwood forest.

Chris Hoyt 20:40
That’s a fact. That’s a fact. Yeah, well, you know, it’s funny. It’s funny. You mentioned the 100th because we’ve got it’s actually we’ve got some notes that are coming in from folks who are listening. And one of the notes that just came in is from someone whose first meeting was at our 100th and I I will just read it to you. It just came in and said please share and this is from Celeste Luzadder whose an HR VP at Intuit it says Barb is one of the most. Barb is one of those people that makes you feel instantly welcome and comfortable. And not because we are both Hoosiers I attended my first meeting. She answered all my questions connected me with other peers whom I would benefit from knowing and made sure I was educated on the awesomeness of the CXR community not only is our wonderful kind human, she’s also a huge asset to the talent acquisition industry. Thank you for being you Barb.

Barb Ruess 21:36
Oh, Celeste is making me blush on the radio.

Chris Hoyt 21:39
No. That’s very nice. And we have. It’s funny. So we have a couple of people trying to dial in. But this blog, talk radio platform is proving to be a little bit of a challenge. Yeah. Yeah. A little bit. Is it hard to dial in? Yeah, it’s hard to dial in. So we got another goat that did just come in though. And this one is from Kristin DesPalmes at DaVita So Kristen says Barb is pure gold she’s just a gym she approaches life with a smile ensures every detail is covered and just a JOY all capital to be around the world needs more people like bar next meeting table activity design AI to clone Barb

Barb Ruess 22:20
nice to Kristen I actually I have a funny story for the hundredth meeting with her I actually hung out with fireworks with her six year old at the time son that was my table buddy as the fireworks that night.

Chris Hoyt 22:32
Yeah, I’m sure we did have a good time but I I’ll second the fact that that might be my favorite just because it was a hell of a milestone for CXR. Because I mean, yeah, Mickey Mouse showed up.

Barb Ruess 22:43
I know.

Chris Hoyt 22:44
Literally crashed our meeting. Yep. A lot of fun. But I will say I will second the fact that probably my second or your mentioned that probably my second favorite is also the E&J Gallo hosting last year and I’ve used this phrase 100 times and Barb, you’re probably tired of hearing me saying it but I literally felt like I was having dinner at Nicholas Sparks movie

Barb Ruess 23:02
It was amazing. The food is amazing. Remember the chef like gourmet chef set up crazy. Oh, he was crazy. I mean what it really boils down to and it’s been fun for me to watch this part of CareerXroads blossom. It’s because of the people because the people involved in CareerXroads care so much about the community that they want to do things like host a dinner Redwood forest for people. That that was that was any sort of magic that we pulled off. That was because we have a community of people that genuinely care about each other. And if there’s one thing I could say it’s like an overwhelming memory for me. It has just been so fun to watch what really started as a very small group of tight knit professionals who really just knew Mark and or Gerry. I mean, that’s what we started at 25 years ago. The brand was the literally the brand was the faces of Mark or Gerry people didn’t people didn’t search for crossroads, they were just looking for Mark or Gerry. It’s been so cool to watch that tiny little group blossom into what we have today, which is a community of people, where when someone reaches out and has a question or is experiencing a challenge, any one of us can say, Oh my gosh, you need to talk to so and so and so and so and we make those connections. And no one ever says, no, everybody always picks up the phone, and they’re always willing to talk to each other and help each other. And it’s just been, it’s been amazing to us that journey of CareerXroads.

Chris Hoyt 24:31
Well, it’s fun, I think, you know, the baseline work was set up and that the expectations set up by Mark and Gerry, but I gotta tell you, the work that you have put into it, and then others who have joined have begun to put in it really make it what it is today. And that’s why it’s just been such a pleasure to just get on the mic real quick. We talk all the time. But you know, we get emails all the time about you and we get, we get to see you interact with the members that we have and they just love you to death. So we figured what a great opportunity to finally just say okay, what’s going on with Barb. Let’s introduce everybody. So I’m so glad you did this.

Barb Ruess 25:03
Yeah, thanks. It wasn’t even as bad. I told everybody tell. I told one of my college kids as I was walking in here and like, I better get a beer. I don’t know if I can handle being interviewed just about me for 30 minutes.

Chris Hoyt 25:15
I think you did just fine. We love talking about you. Well, we had several people trying to dial in and the blog talk radio platform really letting us down today but Gerry was trying to dial in Brad Cook was trying to dial in with a handful of other folks trying to dial in so we’ll get that stuff worked out. And maybe maybe we’ll do a Barb part two interview.

Barb Ruess 25:39
There you go. I’ll think of some more stories to share with you without sharing any names or embarrassing details.

Chris Hoyt 25:45
Oh, well, what fun would that be? That’s true.