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Someone hand me a glass bottle of wine, stat: it’s a wrap on SmashFly’s Transform 2019. I really can’t recap it better than Allison did:

This conference was truly a labor of love, and I love that it manifested itself in our speakers, attendees and sponsors.


First, the Takeaway Feels

The entire SmashFly team (and I hope all attendees in-person and on the livestream) is elated, reinvigorated, inspired, humbled, recharged and so ready to act (and do it again in 2020?!). Not only did 250+ talent acquisition and recruiting leaders (alias Transformers) bring their A-game to listen, learn, connect, ideate and challenge on topics like talent mobility, recruiter enablement, talent acquisition transformation and recruitment marketing, they also acted momentously.

  • Following the knock-the-wind-out-of-you, powerhouse keynote and call-to-action to be better humans from Torin Ellis, Transform attendees donated more than $5,000 to the Ora Lee Smith Cancer Research Foundation (including a huge donation from one of our sponsors, Proactive Talent).
  • Following the simple but life changing closing keynote and call-to-action to be kind from Leon Logothetis (creator of Netflix’s The Kindness Diaries, which everyone should watch BTW), my SmashFly colleague snapped a photo of one of our Transform attendees befriending and having a drink with a stranger at the airport.

Cue sobbing. But really, cue applause. For a conference whose theme was “Talent Acquisition in Action,” there’s no greater reward than seeing that come to life in the community of people we brought together. Kudos to all of YOU, Transformers, who made Transform an experience, not an event. I hope you continue to connect, share and change the world of work together.


Now, the Takeaway Actions

Emotions aside, every speaker — from Cox Enterprises’ Adam Glassman to Delta’s Holland McCue to SmashFly’s own Thom Kenney — dominated the stage with big-time themes and even bigger, tangible to-dos. I saw a tweet fly by from a woman who said she “usually has a few tidbits here and there [from conferences], but at Transform [she had] a notebook.”

That’s what I’m talking about, people.

There will be much, much more to come out of all the sessions and presentations from Transform (including on-demand recordings soon), but here are 11 mega one-liners and gut-punching aha moments to tide you over:


“People are motivated by change when they have ownership in the outcome.” – Thom Kenney, CEO, SmashFly

TO DO: Intentionally and purposefully include your team in change by sharing small wins in every outcome along the way. They won’t change unless they see that change works.


“Every company should communicate and outline 100-day success plans for new teammates during onboarding.” – Mike Vole, CEO, and Emma Brudner, Director of People Ops, Lola.com


“You don’t control your brand; your employees do.” – Adam Glassman, Sr. Mgr, Employer Brand, Cox Enterprises

TO DO: Make EX (employee experience) a thing, like Cox Enterprises did: The company created an Employee Experience Lab that brought together 20+ project teams across functions to tackle the biggest opportunities for employees.”


“A transformation has a clear beginning and end.” – Wendy Brock, Global Digital Experience Leader for Talent Acquisition, IBM

TO DO: When transforming technology specifically, decide at the beginning what core outcomes it needs to drive … and get there.


“Gen Z goes to YouTube to get their info, not Google.” – James Ellis, Director of Employer Brand, Universum

TO DO: Befriend video. Master video. Use video. And quickly.


“Follow the 70-20-10 rule for brand and job promotion: 70% on existing channels, 20% on new channels, and 10% on upcoming channels.” – Austin Graff, Marketing and TA Manager, The Washington Post


“If you build it, they might come. But if you don’t maintain it, they will leave.” – Shondee Coker, Talent Strategist, Sprint

TO DO: Use this anatomy of a landing page guide from Sprint. Why? Because Sprint’s landing pages are STELLAR.


“User-generated video doesn’t mean the video won’t suck.” – Josh Zywien, CMO, SmashFly

TO DO: Beware: not all user-generated content is created equal! Give your employees parameters. Let them experiment and test. Showcase great user-generated content as examples.


“If you went away tomorrow, what’s the loss to society? Your company needs to be able to answer that question consistently.” – Erik Qualman, Best-selling Author and Professional Speaker

TO DO: Find the answer to that question. Once you do, it’ll be the foundation of a lot of great recruiting and marketing.


“Diversity has no finish line.” – Torin Ellis, Diversity Consultant and Leader

TO DO: If you’re not willing to be an ally to diversity or belonging or inclusion, just move out of the way. Let others find their voice and pave the way. (That to-do is from Torin himself.)


“Your talent leads are only as good as the content and message you give them.” – Holland McCue, Head of Employer Brand and Recruitment Marketing, Delta Air Lines

TO DO: When you create content for your employer brand and recruitment marketing efforts, prioritize “role promise” ahead of “brand promise.”


“Build relationships with candidates for the lifetime of their career.” – Allyn Bailey and Tyler Weeks, Intel


“To change the world, change a life. To change a life, be kind.” – Leon Logothetis, creator of Netflix series The Kindness Diaries

TO DO: Simply, be kind to one human a day.


So What’s the “So What” of Transform?

For talent acquisition and recruiting and diversity leaders … people … to connect in one place, two days a year to fuel change. To be different. To be better.

We’re so proud to be that place. Until next Transform, folks.

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