Join us at Fail Spectacularly and keep reaching for the stars!

Fred sits alone at his desk in the dark
There's an awkward young shadow that waits in the hall
He's cleared all his things and he's put them in boxes
Things that remind him: 'Life has been good'

Twenty-five years
He's worked at the paper
A man's here to take him downstairs
And I'm sorry, Mr. Jones
It's time

--Ben Folds "Fred Jones, Part 2"

There's failure all around us. Traditional media empires are crumbling. The housing market is still a stinking landfill. VC and private equity investments are still pretty constipated. Unemployment is at its highest it's been for decades; there are over 6 unemployed people per current job opening.

And then there's the fact that:

Seven out of ten new employer firms last at least two years, and about half survive five years. More specifically, according to new Census data, 69 percent of new employer establishments born to new firms in 2000 survived at least two years, and 51 percent survived five or more years. Firms born in 1990 had very similar survival rates. With most firms starting small, 99.8 percent of the new employer establishments were started by small firms. Survival rates were similar across states and major industries.

Business experts will tell you it takes a lot of failure to be successful, more in busts than booms (and the stats don't lie). We've worked with hundreds of HR suppliers over the years, and we've seen our share of them come and go. My first foray into the HR marketplace was with a new recruitment sourcing software/services firm that didn't make it a full month past 9/11 during the bust.

It's really tough out there still. All the industry trade shows we've been to this year - WorldatWork, SHRM, ERE Expo, HR Tech - have definitely taken a hit in attendance and exhibiting/sponsorship - again indicative of the ailing, failing and reforming free market economy.

But fear not, we've got two more shows we're exhibiting at this year under our "HR Vendor Directories for HR pros" business (the supplier print directory at and the online content-laden counterpart at HR Directory). If you're a company looking for HR products and services, definitely check these directories out. That would be a good sign.

The shows are HR Southwest this week and Onrec/Kennedy Recruiting Expo November 2-4, so if any of the bright spots we've seen appearing recently continue to grow, then these should be better shows on the road to recovery.

We're especially looking forward to the Onrec/Kennedy show November 2-4 in Chicago. The reason being is is sponsoring Fail Spectacularly, Laurie Reuttimann's and Jason Seiden's fabulous party celebrating corporate failure. It'll be a free party on November 4th, 2009 at 7PM CT at Joe’s Bar in Chicago. RSVP here (quite an A list so far).

Sharing our collective failures will be a cathartic springboard for future successes, right? HR and recruitment professionals are on the front lines and in the MASH tents working hard to transform talent today.

Human Resources may be the underdog, but they just might save us all.

So remember kids, join us at Fail Spectacularly and keep reaching for the stars!

Post by Kevin W. Grossman (join me on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn)

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