Livin’ on Tulsa Time… Meet Bryan Wempen

William Tincup HR, HR Vendors, William Tincup

I met Bryan this past summer at the People Report Summer Camp in Dallas, Texas.  The Celtics were on TV… I remember that.  I smoked one of my favorite types of Cuban cigars… I remember that.  I had just presented via Ignite/Pecha Kucha style presentation regarding corporate transparency and how we really, really don’t want said transparency.  I bombed, of course, because I was talking way over my audience’s head… I remember that.  And, I remember talking with Bryan.  What I remember – nice guy, knowledgeable about the HR vendor landscape, and a guy who genuinely cares about HR professionals.  A guy who everyone should get to know better… enjoy the read… 

Bryan Wempen 3 JWT: What's the one thing people need to know about you?

BW:  1. The back-story behind my starting a blogtalkradio show (DriveThru HR) was because I just don’t enjoy writing that much… but I enjoy words, language, talking and listening to all conversations from all sorts of people about all sorts of topics, and we do that on the radio show. 

2. I’m adopted and I had a wish to tell my biological mother one thing if we ever met: “thank you” for making an obviously difficult decision.  I was able to do that after 33 years… and now am friends with her. (pretty cool)

JWT Editorial: Forgiveness = coolness.  Good for you and thanks for sharing something that is so deeply personal.

JWT: Name three people in our industry that have influenced you, and why?

BW: Jessica Miller-Merrell. I met Jess just over one year ago and she was the top social media person in the entire state of Oklahoma who was just tolerant enough to put up with my freshman level questions.  I was way behind the adoption curve on social media technology and culture but willing and able to catch up.  My friendship with Jess allowed and afforded me an opportunity to catch up and correct my lagging around this critical area affecting both personal and professional. I’m always impressed on how creative and researched that my friend and colleague is as well as how she approaches her business and life. Never stop please.

Mike VanDervort. I am always searching for super-star HR innovators who are deep in traditional (HR) as well as the more strategic human capital part of business operations. Mike is this person. I’ve been challenged continually by him about how I approach the lesser discussed areas of human capital like labor relations with his hope that I get out my opinionated silo of which I have (sort of). His stalwart approach to how it “needs to be done” to really be effective in HR and make an impact for business has been important for me to watch and discuss. He has always been available and open to bounce my ideas and possible actions around with feedback coming from a completely honest and informed place.

Julie Moreland. I met Julie about 8 years ago and pretty much hit it off immediately. I’ve been impressed with her ability to be very reflective and course correct without all the baggage that lots of business leaders tend to carry along the way affecting both short and long-term strategy.  Her mentorship and friendship through thick and thin has proved out on a personal level and her capacity and capability to architect solutions for clients of every industry, culture and location will always be inspiring. We’ve evolved from friend to partner to boss, and now all-of-these. Julie has what I call “calming intensity” that is synonymous with her style both personally and professionally; our friendship has ended up being one of the most significant influences on who I am today and who I work toward being tomorrow.

Point:  Themes that are consistent across my influencers: authentic, supportive and innovative.

JWT Editorial: Most Fistful of Talent readers are probably familiar with Jessica and Mike – if not you should be.  I concur with Bryan – they are indeed great voices in our market.  If you want to learn more about Julie – peep @julieamoreland via The Twitter and also check out PeopleClues

JWT: Why do you love your job? 

BW: With 20+ years invested in assisting organizations putting the right people in the right jobs, I’m completely and passionately committed to removing barriers and objections in the talent management realm from business and business leaders. And I work with a group of folks who love what they do – they love to work hard and all demonstrate by their actions that we’re a family of very busy and entrepreneurial family.

JWT Editorial: I’m of the belief that one cannot be a successful entrepreneur without a supportive family.  No support, no success.  So, those of you who find yourself in less than awesome relationships from an unconditional support perspective – don’t quit that job to pursue some random passion until your house is in order.  #justsayin    

JWT: Name two social media personalities within our industry that you follow, and why?

BW: William Tincup – I’m disillusioned with 95% of the blogging and tweeting after about 3 posts because I think the majority of it isn’t that “real.”  The conversions begin to get bogged down in BS that is filtered so significantly by our personal quirks and hang-ups on honest dialog.  I somewhat include myself in that category.  The only person I know who doesn’t filter and (this is important) comes from a place of experience and an informed position is William Tincup.  You always wonder what you will meet once you transition from an online relationship to meeting someone in person; well I can very frankly say that reading a blog, comments and listening to WT interviews is exactly the same as sitting down with him over coffee. It’s a creative and authentic roller-coaster of thought-mapping every time I talk with WT and I strive to be more like him.

Trish McFarlane – Being in the HR and technology part of the business world gets my little fingers into lots of domains and am always searching for those authentically knowledgeable and infinitely generous people. Trish is one of those types. A quiet leader, I’m always so inspired with her pragmatic nature, skilled writing and willingness to give opinions on her profession all wrapped with an empathy and compassion that the world needs more of; please never give up on the word no matter how painful and frustrating it may be.

JWT Editorial:  Trish is pure greatness.  She’s HR knowledgeable AND nice.  What I love about her is that she makes everyone she interacts with feel better.  One walks away from an interaction with Trish high on self-confidence.  She should bottle that shit.  

JWT: What do you think holds back your profession?

BW:  I’m the current President of Oklahoma’s largest SHRM chapter in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and I am privileged to serve on the Oklahoma State HR Council.  I purposefully have many conversations with our HR members, HR leaders and Business leaders about Talent Management, the HR profession and how we all work to move forward and advance the profession.  The single largest reason I see our profession being both resigned and relegated to a “singularity” of purpose within business. I attribute this to “talent or HR professionals” constantly professing all the reasons something can’t be done.  This self-imposed “governor” on progress will always be a significant detractor for innovation; we have to allow some additional risk into how we approach the people side of the business.

JWT Editorial: So WE hold us back or our mindset holds us back.  Nice.  And, I like the "singularity of purpose" phrase – you need to lock down that domain via GoDaddy man.  Reminds me of a quote about innovation – if we weren’t already doing it this way, how would we do it.  Use this quote when you feel things are a bit stale with your staff.  #shitworks

JWT: Assuming you attend industry events, what is your favorite event, and why?

BW: Any event put on by People Report which is a food service specific research group out of Dallas.  They have been able to capture the feeling and spirit of running into a very old and dear friend by chance and being able to reconnect for 15 minutes then need to go but that is enough time to feel great about that friendship.

JWT Editorial: Agreed.  I’ve never been around that many really passionate people.  Weird, kinda cult like but really cool.  To see direct competitors come together for the sake of the industry – to learn, share best practices and network.  Folks outside the food service / restaurant world could learn something from the People Report events.

JWT: What excites you the most about our industry?

BW: The new voices starting to emerge with confidence from old pros who are starting to get their legs around being more authentic with their thoughts and conversations via social media.  I expect this to be happening more and more, drive change by being change agents.

JWT Editorial: Yeah, I’m really excited about this as well.  We have 50 or so wonderful HR voices that everyone knows.  It will be nice to see the evolution of those voices AND the newer voices come to market.  In particular, I’m excited to see more and more HR practitioners.  I love HR vendors, software providers and/or consultants but enough already… I want to hear more from folks in the trenches (hat tip to Charlie Judy).

JWT: 50 years from now, what's the most significant change that will take place in our industry, and why?

BW: A dramatic centralization of services (shared services sort of like a PEO of services) that services a significant part of the HR function; this is due to the following factors:  1. regulatory intrusion kills the free-market option in this space 2. the pace of technology advances will be so rapid that enterprise services delivery will be dominated by few versus many, too much too fast will change significant barriers to entry.

JWT Editorial:  Consolidation of the market… not sure that is a bad thing.  Retailers in the early 90’s learned that consumers didn’t need or want more choice – they really wanted less choice.  Think about it – do we really need 500 different types of toothpaste?  More to the point, do we really need 800 different ATS’?  Nope. 

JWT: What JWT should I have asked but didn't?

BW: Who outside of the industry inspires you?   Chet Cadieux, CEO of QuikTrip (QT)

JWT Editorial:  You told me that Chet is a no bullshit kind of guy.  I already want to meet him.   By the way, next time you talk with him – tell him my son and I really enjoy the Slurpee station at QT every time we get gas.  #truestory  

Bryan Wempen, Executive VP and Radio Host, PeopleClues & DriveThruHR.  Connect with Bryan:

Blog || Facebook || Twitter || LinkedIn

Editor's Note – This is the fourth in a series of interviews with HR & recruiting folks by William Tincup. By the way… have you ever had the opportunity to meet this man? William? Fascinating guy. The Q&A we'll have to turn around onto him at some point actually. A bit about his story here, on He's also guest starred on an episode of FOTv in the past - probably one of the finest performances we've ever seen on the show. Yep, we're Tincup fanboys and fangirls over here at FOT. No problem admitting that whatsoever.