It’s always good to spend time with people who see life through a different lens to you. It’s the way we can broaden our minds and sometimes change our outlook or way that we view a problem. I spent Friday this week with Felix and some of the team from Evenbase, Jobsite and Broadbean in particular. He has a hunger for knowledge, looking at the reasoning behind those who might hold alternative views to his own. A conversation with Felix is always a pleasure, and often a bit of an education. His blog “People,Brands and Random Thoughts”, launched after #TruLondon2, is one of those blogs that often makes you sit up and listen, taking a broader view to the issues of the day and challenging established thinking and chatter.

Wetzel holds the title of Strategy Development Director, the DMGT backed global digital recruitment group.launched at the start of this year, that brings together the brains behind some of the largest and most innovative brands in  the field. Evenbase are working collectively towards the aim of  to revolutionising the matching of talent with opportunity and making the recruitment process better for everyone involved. It’s a big aim, but when you know the people behind it, of which Wetzel plays a key part, it’s not beyond the realm of possibility.

The title “Chief thinking officer and protagonist” might be a better title. At the end of the bio on Wetzels blog reads:

“I am the Strategy Development Director of Evenbase, so I just want to clarify, that the views expressed in this blog are my personal views, nothing more and nothing less. Sometimes you will find similar opinions within Evenbase, sometimes you will find differing opinions. But that is the beauty of life, that we have different perspectives, different opinions and different outlooks.

Fortune favours the bold.”

Prior to the launch of Evenbase, Wetzel was the Group Marketing Director for the Evenbase business Jobsite, founded by Keith Potts and family in Portsmouth, UK, joining the business in 1999.  I first came across Felix on Twitter, and he has become a regular collaborator at #tru ever since. During his time in this role he  was responsible for launching one of the UK’s largest recruitment advertising campaigns in 2008, which took Jobsite in to TV advertising for the first time, the sponsorship of Portsmouth Football Club, the integration of new media platforms, smart phone apps and the B2B communication strategy of the business with a particular emphasis on social media. These initiatives included Jobsites partnership with #tru, which was really the public vote of confidence we needed in the early days. Jobsite launched social features like JobsByTwitter, reviewed by the participants at #trulondon2, and other social initiatives aimed at improving the user experience, piloting i-spy technology to understand more about the visitors to the site. Wetzels belief is that the consumer should be at the heart of everything, and in the case of Jobsite he views the job seeker as the central consumer, using this data to influence strategy.

I admire Wetzels attitude to data, especially with regards being open and transparent. Jobsite have always made traffic numbers and other non-confidential information available to anyone who wants it. I once asked Felix about this, and his answer reveals a lot about his personality. His view is that people will find data anyway, and you get a better insight when you open it up to discussion with anyone interested, competitor or not. Of course they fiercely guard privacy and confidentiality, but other data should be public, and any research or thinking that improves employability, and our understanding of the job market is better for everyone.  In 2011 Jobsite were named as the job board of the decade at the National On-Line Recruitment Awards. I’m sure that their attitude to community and sharing played a big part in it.

Prior to joining Jobsite some 12 years ago, Wetzel was employed as marketing consultant at the European marketplace for car sales AutoScout24 in his native Germany, an Editor “Be” for corporate communications business Schmitz WG (2 years). He started his career with Trendbuero as a Marketing Consultant, joining in 1996 and staying for 2 years. Trendbuero are concerned with the observation of trends, and the interpretation of social change, looking at how they will impact on their clients in the media and consumer sector. Looking at what this business does and their purpose, its easy to see how this has shaped the younger Wetzels thinking. This extract from the Trendbuero website explains how they work:

We see ourselves as an inspiring, informative and strategic partner for marketing, communications, product development and management. Our customers are brand manufacturers, service providers and media companies, which we the social changesshow for their segment, building on their chances in the network economy point. We offer insights into the mood of consumers and develop innovations for consumer ,culture , society , and marketing. Our analysis leads to predominantly qualitative studiesworkshops and lectures .”

Before the explosion of social media, where talk of networking and community dominates, Wetzel was building the foundations of his thinking in what has become key concepts to understand. While his theories on what the future of work might be like may seem too big a change to imagine at times, the speed at which his view is getting closer to reality makes it well worthy of consideration. He tends to look at things on a broader scale than most of us, on topics like nation branding, and employees as citizens, and provokes the discussion that shape thinking. He has certainly influenced my learning and choice of reading.

Wetzel gained an MSc in Marketing from The University Of Glamorgan in 2006, and a postgraduate in marketing from the Chartered Institute of marketing in 2002. He is also a qualified practitioner in Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP). The title of this post: “Spiral Thinker”, gives reference to Wetzels strong belief in the principles of spiral dynamics, which he often speaks and writes about. According to Wikipedia, this is spiral dynamics:

“Spiral Dynamics argues that human nature is not fixed: humans are able, when forced by life conditions, to adapt to their environment by constructing new, more complex, conceptual models of the world that allow them to handle the new problems.[1] Each new model transcends and includes all previous models. According to Beck and Cowan, these conceptual models are organized around so-called vMemes: systems of core values or collective intelligences, applicable to both individuals and entire cultures.

In spiral dynamics, the term vMeme refers to a core value system, acting as an organizing principle, which expresses itself through memes (self-propagating ideas, habits, or cultural practices). The prepended and superscripted letter v indicates these are not basic memes but value systems which include them. The colors act as reminders for the Life Conditions and Mind Capacities of each system and alternate between cool and warm colors as a part of the model.[2]

Within the model, individuals and cultures do not fall clearly in any single category (color). Each person/culture embodies a mixture of the value patterns, with varying degrees of intensity in each. Spiral Dynamics claims not to be a linear or hierarchical model, although this assertion has been contested. According to Spiral Dynamics, there are infinite stages of progress and regression over time dependent upon the life circumstances of the person/culture, which are constantly in flux. Attaining higher stages of development is not synonymous with attaining a ‘better’ or ‘more correct’ values system. All stages co-exist in both healthy and unhealthy states, whereby any stage of development can lead to undesirable outcomes with respect to the health of the human and social environment (see Shadow & Spin-off or Sub-Personalities).”

When you look at this definition, you can understand a little more about Wetzels thinking on values, branding, communication and strategy. It’s a new world for me, and I thank Felix for prodding my thinking in this direction. Away from work and the community, he is a Dad and family man. His blog should be on the must read list, and you should grab the opportunity to see him speak when you can, he is becoming a more regular feature on the speaking circuit. If you are running an event, you should try to book him.



Felix Wetzel

People, Brands And Random Thoughts