We got a chance to sit down with Mark Fogel, speaker at our next Disrupt HR event, and he was kind enough to answer a few of our questions.



Mark builds great teams. He is an architect of High-Performance HR, who brings new and innovative ideas to the table continually. He is a magnet for attracting top-tier talent utilizing his deep industry knowledge, meaningful insights and a broad range of capabilities having worked in a wide array of industries and sectors.

His topic at the conference will be “HR, Stop Looking in the Rearview Mirror, Keep Your Eyes On The Road Ahead.”

What will you be speaking about at Disrupt HR and why did you choose this topic over any other?

My talk is about HR not looking backward, but looking forward. Keeping your eyes off of the rearview mirror. It’s about change but in a simplistic form. I think a lot has been written about what’s wrong with HR, but I’m a big fan of HR.

I think the issue is that HR is stuck in the mud, and I want to shake it loose, focusing on two points. One is stop getting caught in the past. Just because this is how it’s been done for the last ten years doesn’t mean that’s the way you should do it. And then what do you need to do looking forward. What are some generic things that HR, as a function and as a vocation, should be doing?

I spent the last two years in an entirely millennial HR team in an entirely millennial organization. I was among the five or six oldest people there. It was a wake-up call, personally and professionally. The world has changed, and you can’t rest on your laurels. I find the same thing if I talk about certain HR practices, it’s like talking about a fax machine, which is obsolete and no one even knows what it is anymore. A lot of HR is steeped in talking about compensation models and review models. These are things that they’ve been doing for years, and the model doesn’t work anymore.

Do you believe the HR profession is being or will be truly disrupted, and if so, what’s driving this change?

HR is not going to move forward as a profession until people stop looking backward. I guess it can all boil down to two points: Don’t get caught doing things just because they worked in the past. And what are some generic things that every HR professional should be doing in the future to get out of the mud?

The best things being done in the space are not being done by the Fortune 100 companies. The best things are being done by people no one’s ever heard of. No one’s ever met. And how do these ideas spread? I think events like Disrupt HR spread a seed of change. It’s a cool format. Speakers condense their points to these five-minute nuggets. If you’re not there, it’s no different than missing an episode of Shameless or something on cable tv. You just queue it up, and anyone can watch it at any time. And it makes these changes possible.

And honestly, what works at the Googles and Amazons of the world, what works at a Wal-Mart or a Target with hundreds of thousands of employees, how is that scalable to the local business with 500 employees? It’s not!


In your opinion, where does the shift in HR need to occur?

There need to be more HR insiders who can share with the world their small-scale innovations. Not just somebody who works at Google or IBM or Deloitte or Coca-Cola. The best ideas never get spread because people are working in anonymity. It’s sad. A thing like Disrupt frees great ideas so people doing interesting things can make a wider difference. Then people can use them, tweak them, change them, improve upon them. It sounds a little idealistic. Shouldn’t great ideas come from everywhere? Why does it have to come from the big corporations? It shouldn’t.

If you could recommend a book for everyone in attendance to read before attending, what would it be?

Here’s the book everyone should read: Disrupt Yourself by Whitney Johnson. It just came out in October. Johnson is very interesting. She worked on Wall Street. She worked her way up from a secretarial type job up to being a major financial player on Wall Street, and she left it all. She moved on to start her own firm. Clayton Christensen is the guy who coined the idea of disruption. Whitney’s done a lot of work with Clayton. She can explain what disruption is in the marketplace and what disruption means on a personal level. It’s not about playing it safe.

Disruptive ideas change markets, so when you have something like Disrupt HR, whether it be in New York or Chicago or wherever, somewhere along the road someone’s going to get up at a Disrupt conference and say something crazy, and it’s going to spread like wildfire. People will go, “Oh my god, that’s so obvious! Why aren’t we doing that?” That’s how great change comes about. She also did another book Dare, Dream, Do, which was also great. She talks on a micro-level about you as an individual and not being comfortable doing what you do, how to look for opportunities, and how to look at the world differently.

If I could slide two other books under the door, they’d be The World is Flat by Thomas Friedman and StandOut by Marcus Buckingham.


Last question, what’s your favorite David Bowie song?

Ziggy Stardust! “He took it all too far, but boy could he play guitar!”