It was 2010/2011 and the U.S. was dealing with the aftermath of the worst recession since the great depression. Everywhere you went, people were talking about the one thing scarcer than optimism: jobs. It goes without saying, but it was a trying time to be in the Talent Management/HR industry. Companies were hunkering down, employee morale was suffering, and recruiting budgets were getting slashed.
It was in the midst of these trying times that Chris LaVoie, Creator and Executive Producer of Top Recruiter and Founder of LaVoie Films, found inspiration that would forever alter the course of his career (and potentially an industry).
For those who haven't had a chance to check it out, Top Recruiter is a global movement of CEO's who are re-engineering the business side of talent. The brand is driven by a groundbreaking docu-series broadcasted across channels like YouTube and Facebook.
What motivated you to pursue the film industry and start your own production company?
Out of school, I started my career in the advertising space. To remain competitive as an advertiser, you have to be in tune with trending topics. During 2010 and 2011, the one subject that was undoubtedly on peoples' minds was securing work. It didn't matter if you were actively looking or gainfully employed, everyone wanted a better handle on the job market.
Another big trend that was captivating audiences was the shift to video content. Everywhere you looked, people were consuming vast amounts on platforms like YouTube. As someone who produced countless white papers and webinars in the Talent Management space, I knew that the industry needed to switch to video marketing.
Combining those two trends with a passion for helping people, I wanted to create a platform that could both elevate an industry stricken by the recession and educate people/businesses on ways to better manage their talent and careers. It took a few years, but I finally decided to take the plunge, quit my day job, and write/produce a docu-series based on the recruiting and HR industry.
When did you know that you had a great idea?
I had very little experience and no precedents to work off of, but with the time I spent servicing the talent management industry, I knew that I wasn't alone. I called all of my contacts in the space, raised the necessary funds, and sent out an open casting call in faith that if I could build a platform, then the right people would come. What happened next was something special. We received over 3,000 applications in the first 24 hours from some of the top minds in the recruiting/HR industry. It was at that moment I realized this was something bigger than myself.
What makes Top Recruiter different?
In 2010/2011, a couple of the top business-focused TV shows were Shark Tank and The Apprentice. Although these programs did a great job of dramatizing and depicting the allure of starting, owning, and operating a business, they didn't, however, emphasize the importance of mentorship. Creating a startup is sexy, but making it successful and scaling it sucks. If you want to build and sustain a prosperous business, then mentorship is where it's at.
With this angle, I sought out emerging entrepreneurs in the talent management space and built a process where they could be coached and mentored by some of the best CEO's, talent leaders, investors, and strategists in the world. The result is a mix between TED Talks and Shark Tank.
Fast forward six years later, we're now on the sixth season of Top Recruiter. The new series has been dubbed, "The Movement" and our goal has gotten a little more ambitious: to use the Top Recruiter brand to raise awareness and elevate the recruiting and HR industry. We talk business first, recruiting/HR second -- speaking the language of CEO's is the best way to break the old stigmas and recast recruiters/HR professionals as strategic business partners.
What are your aspirations moving forward?
Our mission is the same question we ask all of our contestants: "How would you re-engineer the business side of talent?" I want the Top Recruiter brand to be known for substance, intellectual horsepower, and showcasing thought leadership. Most importantly, a brand that's focused on executing -- not just a show of mountaintop experiences where your leave feeling invigorated and wake up at home deflated.
For those who are in the industry, I hope they are re-inspired and proud to be a part of such a great business. For those who are not (yet), I hope Top Recruiter opens their minds to the possibility of a career in recruiting/HR and helps organizations better understand the value of their recruiting and HR departments.
To say that my talk with LaVoie was inspiring would be an understatement. After reflecting back on our conversation, it became apparent that four major themes stood out in Lavoie's story. To inspire a movement you need a clear vision, a well-defined purpose, the right people united and inspired by a common goal, and then you need to let go of the reins. Creativity/TV magic will only flourish if the right conditions are present. LaVoie has managed to produce all four.