The Transformation of Jules

jules hr

In the movie Pulp Fiction, Jules dramatically states a phrase from the Bible… what he says, how he says it and what happens next leaves an indelible mark on the audience… In fact, I can quote Ezekiel 25:17 from memory.

The quoted text from the movie goes like this…

“The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the inequities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men. Blessed is he who, in the name of charity and good will, shepherds the weak through the valley of the darkness. For he is truly his brother's keeper and the finder of lost children. And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who attempt to poison and destroy my brothers. And you will know I am the Lord when I lay my vengeance upon you.”

If you've seen the movie, you remember the first time Jules says it.  If you haven’t seen the movie… well, carve out three hours this weekend to view one the best films of the 90s (read: of all time).

In the film, Jules actually says the phrase twice… once at the apartment and once at the diner.  In both cases most of the phrase is intact sans the last line… at the apartment he says “I lay my vengeance upon thee” and at the diner he says “I lay my vengeance upon you.”  Nominal difference…  or is it?

At the diner, Jules is reflecting on has transpired over the last few hours… as he reflects, he analyzes his Bible quote.

“I been saying that shit for years. And if you heard it, that meant your ass. I never gave much thought to what it meant. I just thought it was some cold-blooded shit to say to a motherfucker before I popped a cap in his ass. But I saw some shit this morning made me t

hink twice. See, now I'm thinking, maybe it means you're the evil man, and I'm the righteous man, and Mr. 9 millimeter here, he's the shepherd protecting my righteous ass in the valley of darkness. Or it could mean you're the righteous man and I'm the shepherd and it's the world that's evil and selfish. I'd like that. But that shit ain't the truth. The truth is, you're the weak, and I'm the tyranny of evil men. But I'm trying, Ringo. I'm trying real hard to be the shepherd.”

No doubt that Jules is navigating a transformation.  Much like our beloved HR profession/industry.  Who are we, what do we represent and/or why are questions we must ask of ourselves.  No need to be overly philosophical but let’s not be afraid of the tough questions either.

Do me a favor… please read the quote above again… pay particular attention to what is being said and not being said.  Where’s HR in that story?  Where are you in that story?

Here’s my take but I’d love to get yours via the comment section below…

  • Righteous man = HR
  • The inequities of the selfish = the status quo
  • The tyranny of evil men = our dependence on best practices
  • The valley of darkness = shitty working environment s (bad bosses, terrible benefits, crappy compensation, etc.)
  • Brother’s keeper = all stakeholders
  • Lost children = back handed reference to the management team

Pretty please, with sugar on top… comment below… I’m really curious to see what you come up with.

Btw, don’t try to look the quote up via any traditional Bible… like most things in Hollywood, it is made up.

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FOT Background Check

William Tincup
WILLIAM TINCUP, SPHR. William is the CEO of HR consultancy Tincup & Co. William is one of the country’s leading thinkers on social media application for human resources, an expert on adoption of HR technology and damn fine marketer. William has been blogging about HR related issues since 2007. He’s a contributor to Fistful of Talent, HRTechEurope and HRExaminer and also co-hosts a daily HR podcast called DriveThruHR. Tweet him @williamtincup and check him out on Facebook and LinkedIn. Not up to speed in the social media game? Reach out via email. William serves on the Board of Advisors for Insynctive, Causecast, Work4Labs, PeopleReport, Jurify, TrackMaven, SocialEars, AppLearn, StrengthsInsight, The Workforce Institute, PeopleMatter, SmartRecruiters, Ajax Workforce Marketing and is a 2013 Council Member for The Candidate Experience Awards. He also serves on the Board of Directors for Chequed and is a startup mentor for Acceleprise. William is a graduate of the University of Alabama of Birmingham with a BA in Art History. He also earned a MA from the University of Arizona and a MBA from Case Western Reserve University.

20 Comments

  1. Great topic!

    After seeing this movie WAY too many times, I’ve often reflected on Jules’ monologue… and I’ve come to the conclusions that he’s trying to convince himself that he’s not DESTINED for evil. That he can change.

    I think that is where HR professionals really need to step forward. Outdated practices, old ways of thinking, challenging the norm – that’s living Jules’ philosophy. Shepherd the weak through the valley of darkness. So to speak.

    …Or the monologue could just be the rantings and ravings of Quentin Tarantino’s last acid trip. Just sayin.

    • jesska_lynne says:

      Love it Christine….I’ve always wondered where those “out there” ideas he has come from :)

  2. Michael says:

    I love this movie, and I love this post. Great correlation! I would agree with your take, but not sure about the last bullet, I would think the lost children are more the people who we can turn around and are a success story after being marginalized, ignored, or even abused by the system/bosses. It is when HR can turn those around while the rest of the organization is saying it can’t be done then we have beaten back the darkness.

    Great great post.

  3. I get it, but I still have one question – who, in this metaphor, is “Ringo?” :)

  4. jesska_lynne says:

    I absolutely love this analogy. First, because I am a huge fan of Tarantino and his ultra witty dialogue and clever story lines that seem to challenge the status quo all by their pretty little selves. Second, because the idea of comparing an HR professional to a character in one of those movies is in itself an oxymoron; which just gets me all excited.

    Prior to my current role, I was with a company who was so stuck in the old ways, and no matter what I did, they didn’t want to evolve and change…I was unhappy and looking back, I now understand why; they did not want the righteous man to challenge the inequities of the selfish! I am lucky to have found an organization that is innovative and forward-thinking so that I can still be who I am and be an HR Professional at the same time. Lucky me, This means that I get to challenge the status quo on a regular basis, evolve and still be a “Tarantino fan”!

    We are still a long way away from this being widely embraced, but I love to watch the process of evolution….and happy to have found my spot along the way.

  5. HRPufnstuf says:

    So it would go something like this?:
    “The path of the H.R. is beset on all sides by the status quo and the tyranny of our dependence on best practices. Blessed is he who, in the name of charity and good will, shepherds the weak through shitty working environments. For he is truly his stakeholders keeper and the finder of the lost managers. And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who attempt to poison and destroy my brothers. And you will know I am the Lord when I lay my vengeance upon you.”
    I think you have a winner! Print that up on t-shirts and posters suitable for framing!

  6. Julie says:

    Best.analogy.ever.

  7. Kris Dunn
    Kris Dunn says:

    The new age HR pro is Jules. Read:

    ““I been saying that shit for years (that I’m here to protect the employee). And if you heard it, that meant your ass. I never gave much thought to what it meant. I just thought it was some cold-blooded shit to say (when i’m firing somebody) to a motherfucker before I popped a cap in his ass (I thought we were supposed to say we’re here for the employees). But I saw some shit this morning made me think twice. See, now I’m thinking, maybe it means you’re the evil man, and I’m the righteous man, and Mr. 9 millimeter here, he’s the shepherd protecting my righteous ass in the valley of darkness. Or it could mean you’re the righteous man and I’m the shepherd and it’s the world that’s evil and selfish. I’d like that. But that shit ain’t the truth. The truth is, you’re the weak, and I’m the tyranny of evil men.(you screwed up. Like a lion, i’m here to cull you from the herd) But I’m trying, Ringo. I’m trying real hard to be the shepherd.” (you’re a complete screw up. It’s the expectation of everyone that I fire you. But I’m going to give you one more chance. Remember what I said – that S*** ain’t true. You’re weak. I’m here to cull you from the herd. But I’m going to release you because I’m tired of the game today)

    John – Ringo is the screw up employee who HR pros have squeezed the trigger on countless times. Jules is the HR pro who’s reflective of the game.

    “I’m trying real hard Ringo.”

  8. akaBruno says:

    So, you’re on the side that Jules is HR, and not Ringo? Is the 9 MM SAAS wrapped with BPO?

    Is Big Kahuna Burger the donuts in the coffee room?

    Is the Wolf a consultant/change agent?

    Is Butch the Applebee’s receipt posted on Reddit showing a pastor asking why a waitress gets 18% while God only gets 10?

    • Kris Dunn
      Kris Dunn says:

      Bruno –

      BPO is too deep.

      Big K Burger and donuts for sure. Freakin tasty. Do you mind if I have a bite?

      Wolf as consultant for sure.

      KD

  9. Love this column. Not sure what it says about HR that we all appreciate the greatness of Pulp Fiction but…

    …I am wondering where Vincent fits in:

    “Jules, if you give that f*&#in’ nimrod $1,500, I’m gonna shoot him on general principles.”

    Maybe he represents old HR so while Vincent dies in the end (okay the middle) there is still value in some that philosophy.

    For all of Jule’s new enlightenment, “Bacon tastes gooood. Pork chops taste gooood.”

  10. David Anderson (Mr. Anderson--see The Matrix) says:

    Righteous man = He or she whose heart is immune to workplace fear
    The inequities of the selfish = Short term investment
    The tyranny of evil men = Lack of vision from executives and BODs
    The valley of darkness = The attitude by employers that employees “need” us
    Brother’s keeper = All stakeholders (all of us–for are we not all our brother’s keeper?”
    Lost children = The clueless and impotent, along with members of management who lead by fear

  11. I think Ringo (Pumpkin) and Yolanda (Honey Bunny) are the fly by night consultants and software providers that are sweet talkers in the beginning, pretending to care (about the little girl – even though there probably never was any little girl)… I agree Jules is the HR professional (perhaps a newly found role after a long stint in manufacturing or engineering), but I think Jules’ transformation is that he finds himself in the role of a shepherd for the first time… and what’s different about him is that he is no HR softy-push-over. Sure, he is sadder – but much wiser from all of his experiences . . . maybe even a little regretful of his past. But he does bring one thing with him from his checkered past – he brings his wallet with his name on it.

    I think an HR person who can walk into a meeting knowing their name is on their wallet brings a swagger, a business intelligence and a level of acumen that lays waste to the Pumpkins and Honey Bunnys of the world.

    What name is on your wallet?

  12. Leo says:

    The gun gets Jules a seat at the table… and real power.

  13. Garrett says:

    My question is this…

    Why equate principles against something that is contrived as opposed to principles that have been around for centuries?

    What we hear, who we listen to repetitively, does that not determine what we believe? When we do not challenge what we hear, who we listen to, do not our beliefs become formed by that which we have?

    OK, I had more than one question, shoot me…. :-)

  14. Carmen Hudson says:

    Jules, like HR, is just a minion. Truth is his job is to take out the weak, at the behest of the “evil men”/corporate big wigs. He’d like to be the shepherd, but he must rain down tyranny to get his paycheck and 401K contribution. No transformation at all. Just wishful thinking.

  15. The shepherd and righteous man are one. It is the goal of HR and of Recruiters to be that good shepherd.

    However the evil men could very well be the division directors of their staffing agency, who only profit on the backs of the good men and women below them. And thus create systems that reward the bad, that rewards the shepherds who poison..

    The Valley of Darkness is Unemployment.

    We all know there are good recruiters and bad recruiters.. the ones that force hires for a 90 day turn around.. for lust. sloth & greed…

    HR and Recruiting together have more power over people’s happiness and well being than most. As a recruiter you can literally change someone’s life, save their marriage, help their kids, and put food on the table through being a good shepherd. As HR you have the responsibility to look over your flock, protect it, and guide it.

    Great post.

    Justin Sherratt
    Founder of SortBox
    Ex Freelancer and reformed recruiter (RHI/KELLY)

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