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John Chaisson, In Memoriam


"John Chaisson"


John Chaisson, our friend, colleague, mentor and "strategic consigliere", passed away unexpectedly in Atlanta on December 19, 2012. John was selfless, brilliant, caring and loved.

John will always hold a special place in our hearts at Designs on Talent and will be missed dearly.  

Join us for an uplifting service in memory of John Chaisson at 4 pm on Sat Jan 26 at the Carter Center -- info and RSVP here:

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In lieu of flowers, please consider donating to help John's partner and family defray costs related to his medical care, funeral, etc.

Also, share your memories and thoughts about John below.  If you'd like to send condolences to his family, please do so via:

Designs on Talent, LLC

1579 Monroe Drive, F155

Atlanta, GA 30324


John's Bio:

John built a career founded on creating and fostering sustainable workforces, businesses, services and products. After completing Stanford Law School, he worked as a corporate attorney for leading firms and later began his Silicon Valley business career as General Counsel and VP Business Development for Resumix, one of the first applicant tracking technologies. Subsequently, he worked in business development and strategy for public software and HR services giant Ceridian Corporation.

John worked in diverse industries and a wide variety of organizations, providing strategy, process and consulting support at all levels of the organization. He co-founded several market-leading technology and management consulting groups focused on ERP software and Human Capital solutions.

John spent his career assessing and reporting on best practices in the Human Capital space. He was a founding member of the Human Capital Institute as well as the Thought Leader Institute, a Talent Acquisition benchmarking and best practice research forum. Among other roles, he now serves as a Member of the National Advisory Board of the Human Capital Institute and a Board Member of consumer electronics incubator, Sector Labs. During the last ten years, John has also served in a variety of consulting roles as well – focusing on engagements related to workforce effeciveness, talent acquisition and change management.

John served the Designs on Talent organization in three ways – as part of our Talent Acquisition and Talent Management team of consultants, as the firm's Business and Strategy leader and as a member of our Board of Advisors. 


This is really stunning. I've had the pleasure of working with John in various roles since 2004 and he always challenged me to think differently. He will most definitely be missed. Thank you for letting us know.
Posted @ Thursday, December 20, 2012 3:19 PM by Todd Noebel
This is a shock on so many levels. John was one of the most intelligent, thoughtful, and unique minds in our industry. More importantly, he was a great person. He will be missed.
Posted @ Thursday, December 20, 2012 6:24 PM by Ed Newman
A true legend will be missed. They say that when someone you love becomes a memory, the memory becomes a treasure. I will forever treasure meeting the amazing John Chaisson. Rest in peace.
Posted @ Thursday, December 20, 2012 6:51 PM by Sean Beaver
Truly a great guy. Smart, forthcoming, helpful, etc. Can't say enough good things about him. I'll miss him. I really enjoyed our conversations. RIP
Posted @ Thursday, December 20, 2012 7:19 PM by Sean Rehder
John truly was amazing: one of the few out-of-the-box thinkers to grace the Human Capital space, and he actually used to work for one of the other ones, John Sumser. I was honored to MC his conference "Going Global" in San Francisco, years before that became a cliche, and like so many of his ideas drew on various disciplines. I am crushed that we just got back in touch after years at last October's HR Technology Conference and then he visited my home with Linda and now he is gone. Everyone who knew him will miss him.
Posted @ Thursday, December 20, 2012 8:50 PM by Bill Kutik
I worked with John back in the Resumix days, dined with him and Bill Kutik at Obryckis in Baltimore on 9/11 and, most recently, had the pleasure of working with him again vis-a-vis Elaine Orler. A very nice man; he was taken from us far too young.
Posted @ Thursday, December 20, 2012 9:00 PM by Jeanne Achille
I had the pleasure of working with John on several projects while at BrassRing, and later while working on several industry books. He was intelligent and a pleasure to work with and be around. I am deeply saddened to learn of his passing. RIP John.
Posted @ Thursday, December 20, 2012 9:25 PM by Mady Gorrell
John broadened our horizons and buoyed us with vision and an infinite trove of ideas. It was a privilege to call him a friend, confidante and mentor. I will so miss him and his authenticity, gentle demeanor, and caring heart.
Posted @ Thursday, December 20, 2012 10:19 PM by Sharon Kaivani
I would like to thank all those at Designs on Talent who worked with and supported my brother John. A few months ago, John express to me his absolute love of this company and people in it. John could understand how he could so bless to work for an organization so loving and caring, he was having the best times of life in his career. From the bottom of my heart, I am forever grateful. John was not only my younger brother, he was my best friend.
Posted @ Thursday, December 20, 2012 10:55 PM by Steven Chaisson, John brother
I am so sorry to hear this. I first met John when he was at Resumix, and always valued hearing his thoughts on this industry. He's gone from us far to soon.
Posted @ Thursday, December 20, 2012 11:18 PM by Gretchen Alarcon
The world has lost a true "Positive Force" in John Chaisson. I have had the honor and privilege of knowing and working with John and his brother Steven here in the States and abroad. I have witnessed the power of love working through John's tireless advocation of Human Capital. There are a great number of people who have been embraced, encouraged, nutured and motivated to be all they can be as well as what and who they were meant to be through John's soft yet powerful approach to this thing we call life. John's life and work will continue on through the lives of those who came into contact with him. With profound admiration and love, we will all miss you John but I for one will carry the torch daily in bringing the worth of a human to the world. Peace and Love.
Posted @ Thursday, December 20, 2012 11:36 PM by Don Queen
I was honored to have known John for the past 10 years. A unique and gentle soul. John was inspiring, innovative, and I felt like I simply got just a bit smarter every time I was around him. He was a driving force in the development of the Thought Leadership Institute and I had a blast when working with him in the common goal of advancing our industry. John touched a LOT of lives and I am grateful to have been one of those.  
I miss you already My Friend...
Posted @ Friday, December 21, 2012 7:28 AM by Marc Hutto
Although I only had the chance to meet and work with John recently, he was clearly an intelligent, caring and principled individual. I'm sorry I won't have the chance to get to know him better (beyond reading these comments and hearing from others - which certainly add wonderful context).  
My heart goes out to his family, friends and colleagues. I know John will be missed deeply and remembered fondly.
Posted @ Friday, December 21, 2012 9:05 AM by Frank Capek
When John and I worked together, the air crackled with electricity and amazing things got done. There was magic in our connection. We were an astonishing team. 
He was smarter than hell and ready to collaborate. He had the gift of helping to make others' dreams real. When he got behind you, there was never a doubt about his commitment. 
When I heard this awful news, it was as if my chest had been hollowed in an instant. I cried the tears you save for the people you love. The world is smaller today.
Posted @ Friday, December 21, 2012 9:56 AM by John Sumser
John's unselfish determination to better the world was an inspiration to me. Perhaps the best adjective I can use to describe John would be "unselfish." He followed his heart and was always willing to help anyone without a moment's thought for what he could get for doing it.  
John will be sorely missed.
Posted @ Friday, December 21, 2012 10:13 AM by Mike Keller
John truly understood the human in human capital, and he cared so deeply for the people in people practices. That fact, combined with his intelligence, creativity, and love for his work, make his voice one that will be profoundly missed in the world. 
From his selfless business style, the tribal care and concern of his colleagues, friend, and family, and the charitable mission that informed everything he did, John is simply John -- amazing, intelligent, fun, inspiring, warm, loving, and irreplaceable. 
I was privileged to work with him on projects ranging from internet technologies to consumer electronics, from HR leadership forums to a global workforce summit, and from community projects to documentary films. 
I will sorely miss John, but will warmly remember him always.
Posted @ Friday, December 21, 2012 10:34 AM by Trevor Hill
John the entire HCM space and all your friends will truly miss you. RIP
Posted @ Friday, December 21, 2012 10:48 AM by Debbie McGrath
We've lost a brilliant mind and a truly good person. John inspired me when I first started working with him at TMG in 2001. The webinars and panels we did together over the subsequent years always had an air of excitement due to John's piercing intelligence and amazing gift of language.  
John, you will be truly missed.
Posted @ Friday, December 21, 2012 2:59 PM by Allan Schweyer
I am lost without you. I love you, John.
Posted @ Friday, December 21, 2012 3:08 PM by Daniel Kokin
John, your intellect, energy and ongoing contributions to our industry will be missed. RIP.
Posted @ Friday, December 21, 2012 3:10 PM by Bertrand Dussert
Love you John. A deep sob filled my spirit and my eyes with tears. Known you for 20+ years. Your intelligence and humor was charismatic. No one could quip out the one liners like you. *two snaps and a "no you didn't"* :) <3.
Posted @ Friday, December 21, 2012 4:26 PM by Stefanie Boggs
NISH class of 1984 has lost a strong link to it's chain. His memories will be cherished forever. His wit amd personality will be remembered for years to come.
Posted @ Friday, December 21, 2012 6:45 PM by Beverly A. Guillory
R I P classmate NISH 1984
Posted @ Friday, December 21, 2012 7:03 PM by Kerrill Brown
I've spent more time with John in the last 10 months than I have with my husband (which, well, may be a story for a different forum). We've taken a dozen trips together and spent countless hours on client projects and business strategy discussions. When I first met him, I thought he was quirky and brilliant. He later told me he thought Sharon and I were delusional. We were both right.  
Somehow, we slowly pulled him into our cult of smart thinking, great HR solutions, fantastic clients and our good-looking, well-dressed team. He helped us up our game with his strategic insight, his ability to constantly hit the "refresh" button of new ideas in his brain, and his incessant optimism and great expectations. The only time I ever saw him get mad was when he felt someone who should be an ardent supporter was rude to members of our team and negative about our business. He was livid for a long time about that. He loved us and believed in our team so strongly that it always felt like a big fuzzy blanket of support and strategy and ideas and plans. He liked to say that he was working to help me retire to an apartment in Manhattan, which I once revealed was a teeny tiny seed of a dream I had. He only wanted a house with a porch in Louisiana so he could sit and write.  
John gave me more insight, direction, advise and ideas in 10 months than I've gotten in 10 years. He had such a gentle style; he was never pushy - he always helped me inch towards a better, well-rounded decision. We joked about our Vaudeville Act in front of senior leaders - I was the eye candy with the practical solutions (OK, not really any eye candy here) and he was the quiet, big brain who could make a few key points and put the smack-down on any pushback we received. I would blather for an hour and John would make one comment and, for the rest of the time, the leaders would say "Well, I keep going back to John's point..."  
I would joke about how belittled I felt, but in truth, I was so proud of the credibility and command of the room we had together. 
Hours of plane rides and car trips and meetings led to incredible conversations about faith, religion, race, sexuality, commitment, work, politics and ethics. As I reflect back on what I'll miss most, it's certainly his business guidance and sponsorship but more than that, it's those great, meandering conversations that none of us have enough of anymore. At his core, John was one of the kindest, ethical, brilliant, determined people I've ever met. 
And now, although I'm still shocked, I'm not as sad as I am thankful that Ed Newman helped me crash the event at which I met him - and we had these great 10 months together. 
זיכרונו לברכה // His memory is a blessing.
Posted @ Friday, December 21, 2012 7:46 PM by Linda Brenner
I had the pleasure of meeting John when i was representing the buyer for a property he was selling in Hayward. Truly it was one of the most amazing business transaction i have ever personally experienced. John went above and beyond in helping my client purchase the property meeting every need and then some!!!! Even at the point of losing hundreds of thousands of dollars, he was faithful and true to his calling and what he believed God had wanted him to do. John was a compassionate, faithful man who exercised love of God every chance he could. I will dearly miss u John. We will see again in a better place. Peace be with you, you will truly be missed.
Posted @ Friday, December 21, 2012 8:02 PM by Crystal Chon
My family is smaller now, the sky is missing a shining star, thank you for loving me, I love you
Posted @ Friday, December 21, 2012 11:44 PM by Dalton Steele
This is truly sad and shocking news. John had a brilliant mind and fun loving personality. I feel lucky to have not only worked with him, but shared many fun adventures. You will truly be missed.
Posted @ Saturday, December 22, 2012 3:52 PM by Teresa Levis
There is a hole in my heart knowing that you are no longer in this world...we shared so many things during our Talent Market Group days. Rest in Peace my dear sweet John.
Posted @ Saturday, December 22, 2012 4:22 PM by Connie Pascal
When we were in college, John and I talked about going to San Francisco and sitting by the dock of the bay playing Otis Redding. We never went together, but when I got to SF, I did it, John, and thought of you! The years have passed but there was never a time I did not count you as friend. RIP
Posted @ Sunday, December 23, 2012 11:43 AM by Heidi Parker Martin
Reading everyone's thoughts about working with and loving John has me in tears. John and I were friends just before the start of our adult lives. He was brilliant then, too. Clearly he never lost his creative spark and loving ways, because your words are filled with awe,love and inspiration about him and his contributions in life and work. I'm heartsick that I was never able to find him and reconnect over the years. And now it's too late. I'll cling to my sweet old memories. May your gentle soul rest in peace, dear John.
Posted @ Sunday, December 23, 2012 1:17 PM by Andrea Burlingame
I count myself among the lucky ones that had the opportunity to work with John this past year. I recently sat beside him & Dalton at a dinner party and talked (or mostly listened – you know how he could talk!) about future plans he had for DOT. He had a remarkable ability to motivate, encourage, enlighten, and let you know he believed in you. I too remember his one liners – one that comes to mind that he would say as he was making a statement is “I am willing to be wrong about this, but….”. And of course he was never wrong. 
It has also been my pleasure to get to know Dalton. I don’t think I have ever seen as much devotion between two people as he and John shared. My thoughts are with you and also with John’s family. 
I wish I would have been able to know John longer, but I am thankful that I met him and learned from him and experienced his essence this past year. Because of his vision we now think and act differently and dream bigger. He will be missed and remembered fondly. I suspect that we will always be thinking “what would John say”….. 
Posted @ Monday, December 24, 2012 9:27 AM by Kerri Markovic
I have told so many people about a man named John Chaisson; a man who practiced unconditional love; a man who truly loved God and loved helping people. A man who walked his talk; a man with a heart of gold.  
I met John via telephone during a dark hour of my life while praying for a car. I was not allowed to drive a vehicle so I did a lot of "knee" shopping. One night, I was attending a Prayer/Bible Study held in a home called "The Hampton House" that he had recently donated/sold to be used for ministry. I saw a nice looking car (after dark)parked near the house. I inquired and finally contacted him. He told me he had heard my story and my song; and while we had never met, he said I could have the car (I didn't think he meant literally). So,I asked him, "what kind of car is it?" and he laughed. One day he came by and transferred a 1997 Jaguar over to me without a penny down. He said that I didn't have to pay him anything and when I insisted, he said, "OK, whenever, whatever, if-ever." I asked him if we could at least sign a contract. He said "No; Lorrain, if I can't trust you, I can't trust anybody." I went from riding a bicycle to driving a Jaguar (tore down a fence, etc. however, not realizing it had more power than I could ever imagine!). In the midst of paying him what I insisted on, one day he called and said firmly: "Lorrain, don't send me any more money!"). He was willing to give me the car; simply because he said "It feels right." He said he had been offered thousands of dollars cash; "but it didn't feel right;" "but for you, Lorrain, it feels right."  
I had been praying for a car - just a car that could get me around town. God answered my prayer through John. John has and will always be a part of my testimony.  
I remember the last time he came by to visit me; we had such a great time talking about positive things, his career, and his vision for my music career. He recorded my story over three hours and was planning to write a book about my life and how losing my twin sons Albade and Obadiah to gun violence in Oakland - at the same time impacted my life. While recovering from a nervous breakdown, I only trusted John with my intimate story and my fragile heart. 
My heart weeps because I will never see him again here on earth. But I rejoice in that I knew John and because I believe John is in a better place; in better hands, in a better atmosphere - somewhere beyond the sky. 
Through John, I met his family; now my extended family. I will always embrace the memory of John. I can just imagine his calming smile, his piercing stare - as if he could perceive your thoughts - and his rare sense of humor.  
Dear John: May you  
Rest in Peace." I dream a lot and would love to hear from you sometimes - in my dream. Love, Your Sister, Lorrain Taylor
Posted @ Tuesday, December 25, 2012 8:16 PM by Lorrain Taylor
To my COUSIN John GONE BUT NOT FORGOTTEN you rest now your work is down you touched a lot of hearts
Posted @ Wednesday, December 26, 2012 2:54 PM by Diane Derouen Guidry
In my recent meeting and limited interaction(s) with John, I was overly impressed with his sense of passion, sincerity, calmness, thoughtfulness, and of course his strong knowledge of our industry. He obviously left a mark on so many people yet it is very apparent that the most positive mark that he made was his love for other people and how he treated them. I was extremely saddened to hear this news and I send my heartfelt prayers to all of his family, friends and coworkers. You definitely left a legacy John and will be very much missed. Rest in peace my friend, Mike
Posted @ Wednesday, December 26, 2012 4:38 PM by Mike Veronesi
I was on the NISH Speech and Debate team with John in 1983 and 1984. He was simply remarkable. He always listened and I can't remember how many heart to heart talks we had on those tournament weekends away from New Iberia. He was brilliant, kind, loving and giving. I am so honored to have known him.
Posted @ Wednesday, December 26, 2012 9:31 PM by Debbie Darby
I am saddened by the loss of a very dear classmate, homeboy, and friend. He touched all of our lives with his wit, brillance, and encouraging spirit. Truly gone too soon.
Posted @ Thursday, December 27, 2012 9:39 AM by La Guardia Collins
I only met John recently. In those few times I had the pleasure of his company, the word that comes to my mind about John is hypnotic. When he spoke I felt entranced by his words and the conviction, excitement and passion in which he spoke. I was so very much looking forward to working with him, knowing him and learning from him.  
I am so moved by all the stories shared and love that radiates from them. I can't help but feel so sad that he is gone from this life. He was an inspiration and I too feel blessed and honored to have known him.
Posted @ Friday, December 28, 2012 2:11 PM by Jennifer Kapala
I had the privilege to know John and to teach him in high school. Even then it was obvious that John had boundless talents. He was a shining star even then and the time that we had together was a truly special time in my career. I am stunned by his early passing and I know that there are many things that will not be done as well because he is not able to be a part of them. it is obvious that his influence and the relationships he built will sustain his dreams and his life and his contributions will continue to inspire for many years to come. I am proud to say I knew him and feel privileged to have been a small part of his world.
Posted @ Friday, December 28, 2012 7:17 PM by Suzanne whitaker
I am grateful for everyone's comments above. I didn't know anyone like, John. He was a mentor and collaborator and I feel an emptiness that he is gone. It is still shocking. He was a real friend.  
I will miss John's boundless enthusiasm. There was no such thing as a 10-minute conversation with him. Everytime it turned into an escalating brainstorm that lasted for an hour (regardless of schedule). I always felt more energy at the end of these conversations. And most importantly, I always felt better about me after we spoke. That is a unique talent. 
My favorite memory with John was the Corpus Operis conference situated in a castle estate an hour's train ride from Berlin. This was a magical time and the event was a beautiful reflection of John. The participants exchanged ideas in a completely non-corporate setting. We "saloned" and listened to chamber music in between the exchange of workforce ideas. John was at his finest that week and he was a source of love, inspiration, and enthusiasm.  
My life was improved by John Chaisson. I'm sad that I can't pick up the phone and call him.
Posted @ Wednesday, January 02, 2013 2:23 PM by Mark McMillan
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