We had a great #failchat on Monday about “Generalized Failure Disorder,” which was a fake name for being human.

I took a poll at the end of the chat, and this Monday’s topic will be “relationships.” 

I constantly fail at maintaining and nurturing my personal and professional relationships, and I hope we can have an honest and helpful conversation about why most of us suck at being good friends, neighbors and colleagues.

How do we overcome the universal forces of failure that sabotage our relationships?

Fuck if I know, but let’s talk about it on Monday at 1PM ET on Twitter. And if you don’t know what a Twitter chat is, that’s okay. You can go to search.twitter.com and type in #failchat to see what it’s all about. Or have a look at this summary to see how we had fun.

See you on Monday afternoon!


I went to HR Tech, last week. It’s a conference where a bunch of HR technology companies showcase the latest and greatest iterations of their software.

It’s also a place where people called “HR tech analysts” go behind the scenes in a “briefing room,” which is just a beige-on-taupe room that’s always too hot or too cold, and meet with technology companies. They usually tell them what’s wrong with their software.

So, wait, let’s step back. What are HR tech analysts?

Well, definitions vary widely. There are analysts in other industries — finance, enterprise tech, healthcare, hospitality, pharmaceuticals — who have deep expertise and can evaluate software (and leaders) and offer surprisingly good insights on what’s ahead in the market.

Those analysts may be independent. They may be journalists. They often work for financial service firms and offer insights to hedge fund managers or investors. They also do webinars, write whitepapers and speak at executive roundtables. It’s how they make a living.

In HR, we have some analysts and journalists who fit that bill. Not many, but a few.

However, we have a lot of independent people calling themselves analysts who may or may not have deep expertise but sure as hell know how to criticize software and monetize themselves on both ends of the spectrum: as experts for the HR practitioner as well as experts on software.

And then those analysts get snippy with one another and passive-aggressively criticize their peers for doing what they do themselves: taking money from anyone who will write a check.

It’s a trainwreck.

The worst insult you can call an analyst is a “blogger.” As if blogging is like being a bus boy at Waffle House or something.

It’s gross to watch grown men and women take a swing at one another in the most ineffective and childish ways. So, yes, basically, it’s just like your job except these HR tech analysts don’t have real jobs, anymore. They only have jobs they’ve created for themselves. So they fight on Twitter instead of fighting on Slack or your internal email system because you don’t pay for Microsoft Outlook for a team of one or two.


I was embarrassed by the way some of these analysts behaved online before, during, and after HR Tech. You don’t build your business or your reputation by slagging on your competitors or bloggers. The single biggest way to lose at influencer marketing, which is what drives revenue for most of these analysts & bloggers, is to use your influence to criticize other people.

So how do you solve for HR tech analysts acting like babies? Well, you start to hold them accountable for their work.

I want someone to create an HR tech analyst scorecard. Who wrote what? Who’s right? Who’s wrong? Have any predictions come true? Who does webinars for which company? Are the trends we see in the market right now the trends that some of those jamokes predicted back in 2012?

That’s not a difficult thing to build.

Both HR technology companies and buyers would invest heavily in an app that scores analysts and validates their predictions. Moreover, that app would uncover which technology companies are frequently mentioned by particular analysts, thus shedding light on who is getting paid by whom. (Well, that’s iffy. But you might be able to draw some connections. TBD.)

The first person to market with this app has my full-throated endorsement. I will be your brand ambassador and use my influence to get this information in the hands of every CHRO and CFO out there.

And I bet the HR Technology Conference & Expo would love to see this, too.


active waitingRight now, I’m in a transition mode.

I am moving from D-list HR blogger and speaker to the founder of a software company. And, if I’m honest with you, it’s uncomfortable.

Everything is 100% harder than necessary. Unlike what you read on Breitbart, doors do not open because of affirmative action. Nobody is handing me a wad of cash and patting me on the back for being a woman who is interested in STEM. In fact, Machiavellian dudes who rule over “start-up culture” have created a model where you must struggle to be credible.

Fuck that! Such a failed model! That’s another subject for another day with more exclamation marks!!

Today, I’m done with just about everything. Work. Life. Budgets. Politics. Adulthood. Ongoing DDos Attacks. I quit. I’m going to take the baseball bat I keep in the trunk of my car and destroy some headlights if one more person sasses me or gives me a lecture about “managing change.”

I had to check my swing when I learned about active waiting, earlier this week. Have you heard of it?

Some hippie told me that you could do everything properly — networking with smart people, learn about your industry, create great code — and shit seldom happens according to your timetable. If there’s downtime, and there’s always downtime during a transition, it’s okay to use that time to prepare yourself for success.

That’s called active waiting.

“Go take a class. Get your life organized. Clean out your basement. You won’t have time for all of that nonsense when GlitchPath is successful.”

And, oh my fucking god, I almost lost it. Except that hippie was right. If I’m headed down a productive path, I won’t have time to clean out my basement when my company lands its first significant customer. I barely have time, right now, because I like to watch TV and complain about my cushy and relatively comfortable life.

So, okay, let’s recap.

It’s okay to complain and quit things a million times without actually quitting — or so I’m telling myself — but active waiting is a healthier way to manage through ambiguity and chaos. If you’re up for it, divert your attention and tackle a few personal-but-also-strategic projects in your downtime.

In other words, join me in my filthy basement. We can bitch and moan while we get ourselves ready for the next chapter of our lives. Plus the litter boxes need to be disinfected!


My politics are a little less than mainstream.

I’m a pro-choice secular humanist, a vegetarian, and someone who believes in the right to protect myself and shoot a sexual predator in the face.

I vote Democratic because I like roads and schools, but it’s not like I’m all that impressed with the streets near my house or your kids who can’t do math. I’d like to pay less in taxes because most of my tax money is wasted on war and a federal food policy that kills animals and makes us sick.

But mostly I vote for Democratic candidates because I’m a first-person witness to how young girls and women are treated in my country. We don’t have equal rights despite what your drunk uncle tells you, we don’t fully control our bodies, we earn less than men, we are made to climb extraordinary hurdles if/when we ascend to positions of power, and we pay extra taxes on items like tampons and yeast infection treatments.

What’s worse is that we live in a society where we victimize women — physically, sexually, socially, emotionally — and then offer blame, shame, and maybe local resources that are supplemented by private donations and volunteer hours.

Not that you care, but I’m voting for Hillary because it’s not always great being a woman in America. And I think Donald Trump’s supporters will benefit from a Clinton presidency much like they’ve benefitted from an Obama administration while simultaneously saying racist and overtly stupid things.

So even though #imwithher, I can’t call Trump supporters “deplorables.”

Here’s why.

I firmly believe that behaviors (and not people) are deplorable. It’s an adjective to describe something that’s shockingly bad. It bugs me when smart people use “deplorables” as a collective noun.

If everything you disagree with is deplorable than nothing is deplorable. When you overuse the word, it loses its meaning. Look at the way people (like me) use the word “awesome.” If everything is awesome — getting my car washed, getting free Amazon Prime Shipping, scoring an upgrade on Delta — how do you describe the natural wonders of the world?

I’m not about calling people “deplorables” and I think you should stop saying it, too.

Sexually offensive language? Wretched. Building a wall? Stupid and short-sighted. Also, racist. Advocating sexual assault? Yes, this is deplorable.

But half of the country is supporting Trump, which means that your neighbors and colleagues are Trump voters. And if they’re deplorable today, they’ll be deplorable on November 9th after Trump loses the election. And then I don’t know how you get anything done — meetings, community programs, play dates — with people whom you don’t respect and trust.

Violent, sexist, racist language is never acceptable. Call it out on the spot, teach your children to do better, and then go vote. In fact, vote early and then go volunteer on election day to drive people to the polls.

But I think you’ll have a much better life — and better relationships with people in the short-term and long-term — if you lead by example and stop calling Trump voters “deplorables.”

It’s just unhealthy, and honestly, it stoops to Trump’s level of vague and invalid generalization without facts.


strategic optimist

I’ve spent the past six months talking to HR and recruiting professionals about failure. Unfortunately, nobody cared about enterprise failure until I started talking about my life.

My maternal grandmother was a strategic optimist. When she became accidentally pregnant at the age of 20, she married the guy and had four kids. When the guy was mean to her, she accepted it. When he cheated on her, she always took him back.

She once told me, “I had no choice. Failure wasn’t an option.”

Of course, failure is always an option. My Gramma was in denial. But, honestly, who could blame her? Being a working-class woman in the 1960s and 1970s was tough.

When my grandfather left for good, my grandmother became ruinously sentimental. She had a difficult time moving forward. Gramma was stuck in the past and spent a lot of time thinking about “how things could have been different” instead of coping with her new reality.

ruinously sentimental

As an example, for nearly forty years, she said things like, “I could have gone to college. I could have had a career.”

She’s right. She could have gone to college and had a career. The limiting factor was her fear.

Now, listen, strategic optimism has a place in life. If you are facing a deadline that seems impossible, you want to tap into the confidence of a million winners to beat the odds. It’s the attitude you need to run a marathon, launch a start-up, or even meet unrealistic sales targets. Optimism, especially in the short-term, works.

But keep that optimism in check, at least a little, because denial is dangerous and costly. HR and recruiting professionals spend millions of dollars on employee engagement strategies and performance management programs only to learn an obvious lesson: people succeed or fail based on their individual abilities that have nothing to do with HR or executives.

Furthermore, if your leadership team is full of strategic optimists who can’t consume failure, nobody is leading. Good luck managing that.

So, if you work in HR or recruiting and want to have an honest conversation around failure, start by questioning optimism. It’s one thing to believe in yourself — or your team — and prove the haters wrong. It’s another thing to be in denial.

And I wonder — where do you fall? Are you a strategic optimist?


failure-catI’m launching the inaugural #failchat on Monday, October 17th at 1PM ET. Our topic? Generalized Failure Disorder.

What the hell is Generalized Failure Disorder? It’s nothing. It’s fake. It’s being human.

Data shows that most of us fail in the same ten ways over and over again, and we learn how to manage failure — or not — from our families and the important people in our lives. And psychologists regularly demonstrate that failure isn’t a big deal. It’s our individual reaction to life’s unforeseen circumstances — resilience, learned helplessness, self-determination, ruinous sentimentality — that determines whether or not we succeed.

Basically, failure is just part a boring part of life. You know, much like eating and pooping. And, for the record, we mostly celebrate eating and pooping when a baby does it.

Are you a baby? No. You’re a grown-ass adult.

Now let’s take to the internet, like grown-ass adults, and talk about Generalized Failure Disorder on Monday at 1PM ET.

Here are the questions I want to discuss.

Q1. How do you define failure, and can you do it without referring to an annoying quote from someone who is dead? #failchat

Q2. What personal or professional mistakes do you make over & over again even though you know better? #failchat

Q3. When you fail, do you blame others? Are you accountable for your failures? #failchat

Q4. Do you intervene when you see others failing? Or do let them fail because you think people need to learn a lesson? #failchat

Q5. Can you ever actually beat failure? #failchat

Q6. What’s one thing you can do today to stop failing so dang hard? #failchat

Let’s level up, make our lives great, and figure out how to fail in new and interesting ways. See you on Monday!


twitter chatMy HR career is in failure mode.

It’s no surprise. The signs have been there for a while. I think it began in 2013 when I spoke at a conference with Kris Dunn and had a hotel room that overlooked a dumpster. It hasn’t picked up since.

Yes, I’ve travelled all over the world and had a ton of amazing experiences. I also just stood on three reams of paper in a co-working space and begged HR ladies to be a little more disruptive and innovative.

Good grief. What the hell has become of me?

The good news is that my little software play — which doesn’t have a website or a logo but has reached the point of MVP — will launch after Thanksgiving.

GlitchPath will help you predict and beat failure. Maybe. TBD. Fingers crossed.

And nothing says failure more than a Twitter chat, which is what I’m launching on October 17th at 1PM ET. Each week, we’ll tackle failure from a new perspective. Careers. Politics. Dating. Why Starbucks can’t have two lines — one for plain old coffee and one for speciality beverages.

I’ll post the topics & questions for the failure chats on Friday. We’ll chat on Monday.

Will this chat series fail? My software says it’s likely that people will lose interest in time, and it recommends that I do a podcast. But podcasts are a lot of work! I don’t have time for that shit.

I’ll be back, tomorrow, with the questions for Monday’s inaugural twitter chat. Hope you can join us.


You could do worse than having three middle-age white guys as friends. 

Trust me. 

Somebody’s always giving me good advice, I’m never alone, and I’m not allowed to take myself too seriously. 

It’s not bad having friends like these!


My HR consulting career is in a lull. It happens. No big deal. I wanted to create some friction in my life. I’m trying to work on my start-up and mostly ignoring my consultancy except when business falls into my lap.

(And here’s a lesson from Warren Buffet: that’s not how business happens.)

You can’t spend a billion hours a day working on a start-up — just like you can’t spend a billion hours being a rock star or working at Waffle House — so I decided to start volunteering.

I know that I can’t volunteer with animals. For one, I keep them. For twosies, animal people are weird and don’t like people. That’s why they are animal people and not “people people.”

So animals are out.

I’m passionate about women and children, so I signed up for an informational session at Interact of Wake County. It’s a domestic violence shelter and so much more. Nationally, more than 60% of women return to men who have abused them after a stay in a domestic violence shelter. Interact has been able to help 90% of women leave their abusers and never return.

Those numbers are very impressive. I thought — I’m a public speaker. I could be a public advocate for the organization.

I went to the first session on a weeknight. There were at least fifty chairs, and all of them were filled. Men and women from all over the area want to learn more. That’s reassuring.

The volunteer coordinator stood at the front of the room and presented an overview of the shelter. She was great, but something was off. I felt super hot. I kept looking around and wondering — is anybody else hot in here? Are the lights in the room too bright? And, oh, man, I have a headache. Is it stuffy in here? Can you breathe? Also, why is the volunteer coordinator shouting at me?

It turns out, nobody was yelling. It wasn’t hot. I was having a mild panic attack.

In retrospect, a domestic violence shelter isn’t suitable for me. Women and children in my family were routinely subjected to violence. That’s a polite way of saying that I was freaking out about my past, which I assumed was in the past and is clearly just under the surface. Dammit.

Thankfully, the info session was short. The volunteer coordinator ended with some wise words. She said — if you’re interested in volunteering, we need you to fill out an application and you’ll be called for an interview. But we also rely on you to screen yourself for emotional suitability. This work isn’t for everybody. It’s better to figure this out sooner rather than later.

And I thought, oh my god, she’s talking to me.

I also thought, oh my god, thank you.

Giving someone permission to “opt out” is a gift, but it’s also important to recognize that you have the power to self-select out of anything: an interview, a job, marriage, a pending agreement with a client that doesn’t feel right. Nothing is final even when it feels final. Some jobs and relationships aren’t emotionally suitable for everyone, and this includes volunteer jobs.

If the paid or volunteer work you do is oppressive and stifling, this is your sign: opt out.

It’s better for everybody if you do.


My friend, Lars Schmidt, lost his brother to an opioid addiction.

I always wonder — how does that happen? Where does that begin? If you’re middle-class and generally educated, how do things go wrong?

Well, it goes wrong pretty easily. Or so I’m told.

If you’re interested in learning more about opioid addiction — how you can help, how you can get yourself help, how you can get more information on what it’s doing to our society — check out Lars’s tribute page to his brother. Please read his posts on Medium. And reach out to Lars and wish him the best. He paid tribute to his brother, this week. I’m proud of him, although it sucks to be proud of him for this reason.

Physical pain is real and should be taken seriously. Always. But opioid addiction is real, too. And if it hasn’t affected you, yet, it’s only because you are lucky. Be educated, be compassionate, and have some empathy for opioid addicts. Many of them are just like you.

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