I took the day off, yesterday. My brain is mushy from writing white papers on HR, and I needed a break from the internet. So I went to the North Carolina Museum of Art. It’s not too far from my house. There’s a beautiful running path that crisscrosses through the campus. The greenway is full of sculptures and interactive art.

I don’t know where you live, but springtime in Raleigh is warm and humid. I cooled down after my run by touring the NCMA’s permanent collection, which includes everything from Baroque paintings to abstract canvases to a Rodin sculpture garden.

It’s a real gem of a museum, and it’s free.

I was staring at a massive installation called Raqqa II by Frank Stella when a docent warned me, “Here come the third graders.”

I thought — I’m not busy. Let’s see what happens.

It turns out, abstract art is the best art when you’re eight years old. Whatever you think it is, you’re right. There are no wrong answers. Kids get restless while looking at a bunch of dark-toned Flemish paintings, but abstract art is much more accessible and enjoyable.

“What do you think that is?”

“A rainbow swimming pool.”

You’re right!

It went on for ten minutes, and I was captivated. Watching kids interact with art just made my day. I’ve always believed that if you expose your children to art — especially consumable art with few rules — it offers a cognitive structure to help them tackle more challenging concepts and ideas as they get older.

Also, it gives your kids a little depth. Trust me, they need it.

So expose your kids to art, give them a slight advantage in the world, and create future adults who have something interesting to say. You can do this without spending any money and while killing a humid afternoon indoors!


Do you guys know the Gaping Void cartoon? It’s sort of like The Oatmeal and Savage Chickens except that it was early to the internet. The humor is reminiscent of Catbert and xkcd. Basically, Gaping Void is royalty. And because the Obama economy is great, the founder started a consulting firm.

I know, right? America is awesome.

So I was totally thrilled when I got an email from the Gaping Void team, earlier this week. I opened it up, and this is what it said:

“Let’s talk.”

Wow, yeah, that’s random. And slightly unfriendly and presumptive. I get that you’re Gaping Void, but I’m Laurie Ruettimann. I’m not a famous celebrity, but I’m not nobody. Maybe try a little harder?

I responded very clearly.

“Wow. Hi. Hello. Nice to meet you. Aggressive and forward email. I’ll pass.”

I felt good about my email. Every moment is a teachable moment (as the leadership coaches tell us). I was direct, serious and entirely authentic. I’m not a fan of making fun of pitches, cold calls or emails. My response was genuine. I want HR leaders and sales professionals to be partners, not adversaries.

But I’m totally passing on the opportunity to talk to some random dude. I’m busy-ish.

The sales guy forwarded my message to his colleague. For some weird reason, she forwarded the string back to me and wrote this:

Happy Wednesday, Laurie! [My colleague] and I were discussing the alignment between our websites and thought it may be a great idea to reach out to you. If you check out our website, Gapingvoid.com we hope you will be inspired as well. We work a lot with enterprise CHRO’s et. Al. and are always looking for collaborators in our engagements. Feel free to reach out to [my colleague] or myself directly if you change your mind. Cheers. Sent from my iPhone

Well, okay. I’m not sure I was heard, but I embraced the opportunity to start fresh — iPhone signature and all. This was my response:

“Hi, team gapingvoid. I receive 700 email messages a day and only opened yours because I’m familiar with the brand. I admire your founder. I just thought the initial email wasn’t very respectful and didn’t provide any context. “Let’s talk” is what you tell your alcoholic cousin after he says something racist or stupid. So, yeah, wasn’t thrilled with the initial call to action. That being said, I still admire the brand. Let me know how I can be helpful. Best, Laurie”

I meant what I said. I really do receive 700 email messages each day, and I like the Gaping Void brand. I want to be helpful. I’m a nice lady. And here is the response I received:

Totally understand, Laurie. Too many emails is enough to put anyone in a bad frame of mind. This was a very useful lifehack guide I used to clear up my email overload: lifehacker.com/5713914/how-to-wipe-out-spam-email-in-your-inbox. Hope it may clear the spam from your life as well. Thanks for the love for our brand. Really appreciate it. Have a great week. Sent from my iPhone

Now they’re just messing with me.

“Hi, guys. Really appreciate your thoughtful response to my feedback. If you’re interested in sales training, I know a guy who would be great for your team. Best, Laurie”

Obviously, I have nothing but time on my hands. But I do know several great sales trainers.

So all of this is to say that there’s a lot of new money — and talent — in human resources and recruiting. When reaching out to prospects, sales professionals would be wise to remember that civility is your secret weapon. Be respectful and patient, especially if you have a call-to-action.

And maybe HR ladies like me can lighten up. Sales people want to solve our problems. They want to show us a new path. I don’t know if “let’s talk” is the right way to start a conversation, but I’m always open to learning about new products and services in the HR industry.


mister scrubby

Today marks one year since my beloved cat, Scrubs, passed away. He was Scrubby, Mister Scrubby, Big Beef & Cheese, Mister Doop-Dee-Doos, and the Mayor of Chunk City, USA.

(My seven-month-old nephew is the new mayor, by the way.)

I wouldn’t say it’s been the worst year of my life, but I’m in no hurry to feel this way anytime soon.

I’ve been pretty good about holding it together. I’m not insane. I know he was a cat. In fact, I was calm during the euthanasia. We donated his body for a necropsy, and I insisted on picking up his ashes from the crematorium. I didn’t even cry when they handed me his urn wrapped in a purple velour bag that looked like it should hold a bottle of Crown Royal.

I only absolutely lost it when the vet sent me a coaster of Scrubby’s paws. It came in the mail about a week after he died. Apparently, it’s part of the package deal when you euthanize your cat. You get ashes, a poem about the rainbow bridge, a Crown Royal bag, and a coaster. It’s the worst swag ever.

In retrospect, I’m super grateful for the gift of Scrubby’s coaster because I kiss his paws prints daily. My friend BZ Tat also sent me a portrait of Scrubby, which hangs in the basement where we feed the cats. I get to see him daily, and his picture offers some comfort.

So it’s fair to say that I miss Scrubby dearly, but I take comfort in his memory. He was the most scrubilicious cat ever, and he meant the world to me.

But I’m glad this first year of grieving is over.


I am a writer, and I have the opportunity to earn money and work on my craft at the same time. I speak to support my ideas. Speaking also helps me to learn more about my audience. When I’m not writing and speaking, I sometimes earn money by sharing my expertise with marketing and HR departments.

I’m very lucky to have this job. I run a compact business model supported by two primary means of business development: referrals and social media. Clients hear about me through multiple channels and hire me because I’m known for solving problems in an effective way.

It’s a good life made better by a strong economy during the past few years, but it’s a lifestyle that requires constant attention and skin as thick as rhinoceros hide. And I’m here to tell you that you don’t want to be an HR blogger. You just want to be seen as a thought leader and share your wisdom. That’s not what this shit is all about.

What can you do if you have good ideas but you don’t want to invest time (and money) required to publish on a regular basis?

Get promoted at work. No byline feels as good as a promotion and RSUs.

Get involved with students. Teaching is great. You can be benevolent while being an egomaniac. Teach as a means of self-expression and validation.

Talk to writers in our industry who are doing the hard work. Use LinkedIn to connect with the journalists you read in USA Today and The Wall Street Journal. Be a helpful source of information. Also, marketing firms are always looking for industry sources. Check out Rep Cap Media and Red Branch Media.

Blogging will break your heart if you let it. Social media doesn’t validate good ideas; it annihilates new voices with swift precision. But if you feel the siren song of writing, do it with a spirit of intensity and urgency. Do it with determination and confidence. Do it because there is no other way.

First, don’t be self-deprecating. It’s nice to play humble and tell people that your goal is to reach a few people and make a small difference. That’s both cowardly and bullshit. You know it. I know it

Second, work on a grand thesis. A big, bold idea will never get old if you engage your topic with energy and enthusiasm. In fact, it’s the very same energy and enthusiasm that will help you develop the necessary rhinoceros hide to shield you from the negative voices in the marketplace (and your head).

Finally, learn how to speak. Strive to talk about your writing in a public forum. In fact, the only goal for HR bloggers is to speak at the SHRM conference. That’s where over 15,000 human resources professionals converge on an annual basis to learn new tips and trends, and that’s the big enchilada.

Don’t play my game as a blogger. My path is my own, and you’ll probably never make money or prove to someone that you’re good enough and smart enough to have an opinion. Instead, play your own game. Undertake the privilege of writing with excitement and heartfelt emotion. Write your guts out. And get to SHRM’s annual conference and talk to people about your big ideas.

Otherwise, what’s the point?


Four Quadrants of HR Technology™
You can’t be a human resources consultant without a model.

For years, I’ve tried to help recruiters and HR practitioners understand technology by referring them to other smart people. I send my friends and colleagues to other consultants who break down complex ideas into clear messages.

But I now have my model for HR technology, and it’s pretty simple. It’s called the Four Quadrants of HR Technology™.

Why did I do it? Because you needed a way to see that all tech — not just HR — should help you do at least one of four things: save time, accomplish tasks, help you manage a project and achieve better outcomes, or alert you to risky situations and offer possible solutions.

So what do my four quadrants of HR technology look like?

Time management is all about the automation agenda. Nobody has time to do human resources, especially HR professionals. If someone is trying to sell you anything from employee scheduling software to a pulse survey, ask how it saves you time over doing the work manually or having a face-to-face conversation.

Task management is so 2004, but it still matters. It’s about being right the first time and delivering flawless service to your clients. If you’re in the market for anything from recruiting software to video interviewing technology, ensure that the software can provide a service better than you. Otherwise, it’s not worth it.

Project management is the bread and butter of HR and recruiting. Whether it’s the performance management process or global feedback surveys, this technology ought to help you enable greater organizational performance. Implementation is crucial, but so is the scope. Beware one platform that says it can do all things for you, and don’t get caught up in the hype cycle of technology. It will break your heart.

Risk management software helps HR professionals create, protect and defend a talent pipeline. It also helps leaders sort through social, political and economic challenges that threaten the current workforce. You need various tools to understand your organization’s health and the threats to your workforce — from employer branding tools to executive compensation analysis technologies. If only these platforms truly delivered predictions that exceed your ability to predict, that would be great. But they’re close. Very close.

So I hope this is a helpful model for you to understand HR technology a little better. If a company is trying to sell you something, just ask the sales team how their tech fits into this quadrant. You can ask how it helps you overcome failure or fail in new ways, too.

More importantly, I hope this model is a useful vehicle for you to have better conversations.

That’s what it’s all about.



I was at an HR technology conference when I learned that Prince died. Then I watched grown-ass people in khaki pants and sensible shoes lose their minds when they heard the news.

There are two reasons why people freaked out.

1. Adulthood is full of complicated choices and disappointing compromises. It’s okay because that’s the circle of life. But while you and I are being passive-aggressive to one another and fighting over 3.6% merit increases, Prince was creating extraordinary music and hosting all-night dance parties at his house. Artists are sin-eaters for our mediocrity, and Prince offset our averageness through art. It will be a little harder to get through a day of low-stakes political gamesmanship at work on Monday without the countervailing force of Prince to make the universe a better place.

2. Even if you don’t love Prince’s music, you love music that was inspired by Prince. His art had integrity, but it was incredibly accessible. You can hear Prince’s legacy in today’s trendiest songs, but he also influenced everything from Chicago House to Screamo. There isn’t a musician out there who hasn’t benefitted from Prince’s principled and creative leadership. Losing Prince is like losing Steve Jobs. Every band we love will be just fine but also slightly suck for about the next ten years until an entire industry comes to terms with this enormous loss.

If you think about the visible and obscure ways that Prince touched our lives, it’s not hard to understand why middle-aged corporate recruiters and HR nerds heard the news of Prince’s death and felt an immediate sense of sadness.

Prince was one of those artists who made love and kindness available through his music, and he did it on his own terms and without apology. You don’t have to be a music lover to comprehend the loss. And you don’t have to be a fangirl to appreciate the fun, silly, ridiculous ways that Prince translated important messages of love and acceptance into mainstream art.


Botticelli girlsAbout a week ago, I saw Botticelli Reimagined in London. The exhibition reflected on Botticelli’s perfect vision of girls and womanhood, as represented in The Birth of Venus and La Primavera, and tried to show his influence on art from the 15th century through the modern era.

Let’s start with the basics of Botticelli’s Venus. She is white, classicly beautiful, docile, tall, angelic, innocent, physically able, and aligned with a gentle vision of nature. Back in the day, she represented the pinnacle of femininity. Today, I look at her and think — other than the fact that she’s a little curvy — she’s just about everything that most women are not.

So it was cool to walk into the V&A and begin with a contemporary reflection of Botticelli’s legacy. I was able to see artists who flipped Venus on her head and showed how traditional norms of beauty can be restrictive (Yin Xin), hurtful (ORLAN) and sometimes predatory (Rineke Dijkstra).

Experiencing all that art was interesting and whatnot, but then I came home and had two solid days of volunteering with my local chapter of Girls on the Run.

Girls on the Run teaches life skills through dynamic, interactive lessons and running games. The curriculum is taught by certified Girls on the Run coaches and includes three parts: understanding ourselves, valuing relationships and teamwork and understanding how we connect with and shape the world at large. Running is used to inspire and motivate girls, encourage lifelong health and fitness, and build confidence through accomplishment. Important social, psychological, and physical skills and abilities are developed and reinforced throughout the program. At each season’s conclusion, the girls and their running buddies complete a 5k running event which gives them a tangible sense of achievement as well as a framework for setting and achieving life goals. The result—making the seemingly impossible, possible, and teaching girls that they can.

I love and appreciate Andy Warhol’s take on Botticelli. I enjoyed seeing a huge tapestry called The Orchard; The Seasons, inspired by La Primavera and designed by William Morris and John Henry Dearle. But I’m glad that I came home and immersed myself in the real world of womanhood and bodies.

Girls on the Run captures beauty and strength better than Botticelli — and it’s more fun to see girls wearing running gear than seeing them walking around in Dolce & Gabbana dresses inspired by Botticelli.




Here’s you how you know you failed.

  1. If you stopped trying.
  2. If you never tried.
  3. If you didn’t learn anything.
  4. If you gave up too soon because it was hard.
  5. If you quit because you were frustrated.
  6. If you valued short-term fun over long-term results.
  7. If you expected something worthwhile would be easy.
  8. If you fought over nothing.
  9. If you got angry because of small things.
  10. If you couldn’t say no.
  11. If you never said yes.
  12. If you weren’t kind.
  13. If you were selfish.
  14. If you thought you were being funny but other people thought you were cruel.
  15. If you acted like a martyr when you were really looking for attention.
  16. If you never trusted.
  17. If you couldn’t be trusted.

It’s okay to fail. That’s how we learn. But the key is to stop failing in the same boring way. Over and over again. Like a dope. Wondering why life won’t turn out differently.

I don’t think it’s possible to stop failure, but I’m at HR Tech Fest talking about how to overcome universal forces of failure™ at work. I wish you were here because I think this session might be a good lesson for life. I’ll share my presentation on Twitter when the conference is over!


love animalsThere is a universal force that unites all successful and happy business professionals: a love of animals. Some people like dogs, others like cats, but everybody likes animals except for a few cranky people in the office.

In fact, I can go through my career and identify a half-dozen miserable people. They had bouts of depression, mania, and paranoia. They had delusions of grandeur and anxiety. None of them had animals. Not one.

I worked with a woman who was all about her family. I knew she was all about her family because all she did was tell me, hey, my family comes first. You know the type. But she was also one of those super moms who worked by “choice” because she felt especially fulfilled by her job in human resources.

IN HUMAN RESOURCES. Whatever, I still can’t wrap my head around that.

So while she loved being a mom and being a VP of HR, she was a miserable human being who never missed an opportunity to stab a colleague in the back. Or in the face. Or the arm.

One day, this horrible woman happened to overhear a conversation that I was having about my cat, Lucy. Now let me tell you about Miss Lucy. She was the spruce goose of all cats. She was the apple of my eye, the cream of my wheat, and the honey bunches of my oats.

My conversation about Lucy was an opportunity for this HR lady to knock me down. I happened to have a few pictures of Lucy in my office, and this crazy bitch sprang at the opportunity to jump into my conversation and lecture me on how childish and immature I looked with photos of my cats all over my office.

And my first instinct was like — who asked you?

But I was so shocked that I said, “I’m sorry?”

So she repeated it. All of it. Guess what? In version two, I still looked like a moron with all of my cat photos.

I was just like — how is this my life? Working in HR with this witch? How much harder do I have to work to pay off these student loans? Should I let this woman kick me in the face, too?

And it should come as no shock that the mean HR lady didn’t have any animals in her house. Not a guinea pig. Not a beta fish. Not a goddamn dust bunny. No animals. None.

So all of this is just to say that people who love animals are great and happy. Everybody else will just bring you down. Especially if they are HR ladies without cats or dogs.


It’s springtime. My husband did a ton of yardwork and trimmed back our azalea bushes. I washed kitchen cabinets and removed dust jackets from my hardcover books, but I need to paint one of our guest bedrooms. We have a million other projects to complete around here, but while I have a few minutes, let me tell you about my social media spring cleaning campaign.


First up, you need a new LinkedIn photo. So do I, actually. I’ll work with my friends Kathy Howard and Joanne Maye to lock down a new image. If you don’t have photographers and make-up artists in your lives (and why would you?), go ahead and clean yourself up and find someone in your personal network with a camera and a good eye. You don’t need much. You are beautiful.

Then go clean up your LinkedIn account itself. Make sure there’s enough information to tell your story but not enough for LinkedIn to sell your data over and over again. I like the “name, rank and serial number” approach. Be a minimalist. Leave people wanting more. Prove that you’re a real human being and not a psycho to recruiters without giving away too much information so that they won’t call you.


Jesus, Lord, the Facebook. It’s a beast, isn’t it? I have a new spring goal: only “like” animal and kid-related content. Maybe check in on a few groups. Say “happy birthday” to my friends, get my daily dose of Lil Bub, and then get the heck off. Might I suggest the same?


It’s my go-to social platform, but it’s so noisy. I’m part of the problem. I use Twitter to talk to myself and sort out what I’m thinking, which is why my social profile looks like a schizophrenic retelling of my anxieties. I recently cleaned up my tweets. Dumped everything. You know why? Because sometimes you need a fresh start. Even my funniest tweets weren’t all that funny. And while I’m probably not going to change my behaviors, it’s good to unload.


I follow what I like, ignore what I don’t. Mostly animals, babies and art. That’s the magical trifecta.

The rest.

I’m 41 years old, and I have some pride. I’m not a podcaster or a video blogger. While I want to be loved, I’m already accomplished enough. There is nothing out there for me except dull Donald Trump voters and needless scrutiny. No thanks. I ditched all the extra audio, video and photo apps. My only exception is SwarmApp, so I can humblebrag when I travel.

Working and living human is the new social, which is why my social media spring cleaning campaign has been good for my computer-strained eyes and overwhelmingly exhausted soul. You might want to clean things up, too, before spring cleaning turns into a summer of procrastination.

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