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It’s great that CHROs around the world are patting themselves on the back for embracing the cloud, understanding business, and focusing on culture.

But whenever I hear about systemic sexual harassment or widespread pay inequality, I want to raise my hand and say, “HR fails workers and shareholders every day.”

I also want to say, “I told you so.”

You can be proud to work in human resources, recruiting, and all the related fields when the following conditions are met:

1. Women and minorities are paid based their worth
2. People are hired based on ability and not likability
3. Employees can perform their job duties in safe environments
4. Executives are held to the same performance and compensation standards and the lowest-level employee of an organization
5. Productivity, revenue, and profit correlate to investments in an emotionally invested and well-rested workforce

You do those five things, and you can brag about the value that HR brings to an organization. Until then, we ought to cool it on patting ourselves on the back.

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I can’t sleep on the road, which sucks because my job requires a significant amount of time away from my home. I toss and turn for a good part of the night, waking up to worry about whether or not I’ve missed the alarm. Even when I’m not worried, I can’t get comfortable and fall into a restful sleep.

Then it’s time to wake up.

Most of my colleagues live in other cities and few have seen me look like I’ve had a good night’s sleep. Back home, I wake up feeling somewhat healthy and rested. On the road, I wake up with a sore neck and dark circles under my eyes.

I don’t dare take sleeping pills, even overseas, because I once took an Ambien and slept through a fire alarm in a dodgy hotel in London. But I didn’t sleep through it entirely. I woke up, heard the alarm, and decided that I would take my chances staying in my room because, as I told myself, “death isn’t coming for me, tonight.”

Yeah, what? Never again.

One of the best ways to get a good night’s sleep in a hotel room is to avoid the hotel room, which is why I’ve tried to ramp down my travel significantly. When I do go somewhere, I’m employing two strategies: knocking out a day trip, or booking longer trips and lumping in a lot of work so I can spend more blocks of time at home.

I’ve also cut out alcohol, which is supposed to encourage a more restful night’s sleep. It’s been 18 days since my last drink, and, with two trips under my belt, its positive effects are yet to be felt.

I know there are tips and techniques for a better night’s sleep in a hotel. I do them all, including blackout shades on the window and going to bed hydrated. I think the best I can hope for is to come to terms with my inability to sleep on the road. Instead of complaining about it, I’m trying to embrace it as part of the experience. I know that, when I get home, my bed is waiting.

Sometimes coming to an understanding is the best way to feel better when your body doesn’t cooperate with your brain.

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fitness goals

Quite a few of my middle-aged HR friends are focused on health and fitness goals in the new year. I’m not going to lie. I’m jumping on that bandwagon. It’s hard to hustle when you’re carrying a little extra weight.

Unfortunately, I see a lot of disordered eating and compulsive exercising behaviors among my middle-aged friends.

Like, a lot.

Grown-ass people with jobs and families will call themselves fat, go on weird diets, and set unrealistically strange exercise and appearance-related goals. And it starts to make me feel bad about myself for eating all dem tasty tacos.

Except, you know, I never regret tacos.

I’d like to say that these middle-aged people are all white HR ladies, but they’re not. I’d like to say that these people who suffer from body image issues are all privileged, but they’re not. And I’d like to say that these professional men and women have too much time on their hands, but that’s also not true.

It’s regular people between 35-50 who beat themselves up for not being in shape, whatever the heck that means.

I won’t lie and pretend that I’m okay with my current state of fitness, but I’m also not out here advocating for chia seeds in my protein smoothies. I don’t even like smoothies. Fuck smoothies. People who drink smoothies always look hungry. They are hungry. You know why? Smoothies aren’t fulfilling.

And I won’t pretend like it’s great to get old and put on weight in my tummy, but I’m also not gonna lie: nobody is looking at my stomach, and it’s liberating to eat whatever the hell I want. I’m loved whether I get the hash browns at Waffle House or not. Might as well get ’em scattered well.

So I have a message to all of my middle-aged friends who work in professionals services: Your weight is not your worth. Your size doesn’t define you. Your acts of service to others define you.

I think that one of the greatest act of service you can perform is to forgive yourself, love yourself, and take care of your body in a healthy way. Lead by example so that the next generation of middle-aged adults feels comfortable in their skin and doesn’t suffer as much as you have.

And stop it with the chia seeds and yo-yo diets. Nothing good came from treating your body like an enemy in the 1990s and 2000s, and nothing good comes from it today.

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My cat Jake is old, deaf, and fully retired. I come at him three times a day with medication, and as long as he’s pain-free and using the litter box, I don’t mind being his home healthcare nurse. This arrangement could go on for years if you ask me. I’m happy he is still around.

But, in reality, it won’t go on for years. Jake is in the fourth quarter of his life, and there are nights when I have to poke him with a feather-on-a-stick him to make sure he’s sleeping and not dead.

The other morning, I couldn’t find Jake in any of his cat beds or hideyholes. I searched all over the house, and I started to freak out. But I stopped myself from panicking and said to my husband, “I’m going back to the basement. I’m sure Jake is down there. If I find his body, I won’t scream. I will call your name, though.”

That action — of thinking through my shitty scenario and trying not to lose it — is the culmination of a lot of hard work towards managing my stress. And it’s also the extension of work I’m doing to become more resilient.

Quite simply, I know that whatever is out there, no matter how terrible, I can handle it. I don’t need someone to help me contain my fear, rage or grief; I don’t have to drag everyone down with me when I’m feeling toxic, troubled or anxious. I can be my own container.

Being resilient and containing my stress and emotion is a ton of work, and it’s a deliberate practice that I have to visit every day. I’m learning how to manage the small stuff to build up some muscle memory for when life takes an unexpectedly terrible turn.

Like finding my dead cat’s body. When that happens, it will suck.

But, as it turns out, Jake isn’t dead just yet. He’s still sneaky and quick enough to hide when I’m coming at him with his medications. And it’s adorable when he tries to outrun me and get away. I like his confidence.

So, thankfully, I still have some time to work on being my own container and being more resilient. I also still have more time with Jake, knock on wood. That’s what matters most.

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I’m so tired.

I’m not “work in a Chinese coal mine” tired.

I’m not “spend all day collecting tickets at a water park” tired.

I’m not “autoimmune disease” tired.

I have perspective, of course. I’m not insensitive. But I’m pretty tired.

I’d give you a list, but I’m too tired to write it.

We’ll start over next week.

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Some of the worst people in your company are the ones who aren’t coachable, can’t hear feedback, and won’t take risks.

Strong? Maybe. I don’t know. You tell me.

The ones who aren’t coachable are a waste of time unless you’re the idiot and they’re totally right about everything. I suspect that’s not the case. I’m totally uncoachable, for the record. I prefer to learn my lessons the hard way, in solitude, away from the people who only want to help. I’m stubborn and contrarian, and it’s a pain in the ass to manage me. It’s why I mostly work on my own.

The ones who can’t hear feedback are also equally unbearable. Listen, not all feedback is valid. Nobody knows this better than me. What I wouldn’t do to get back the time I wasted listening to people tell me how to improve my HR skills. Ugh. But part of the work equation is that you get paid to listen to other people talk shit about you to your face. So if you earn $12/hr, at least a dollar of that wage is made when you shut up and listen to your dumbass coworkers tell you stuff that is totally wrong. At least you’re getting paid, which is more than you get when your family members try to give you feedback.

And people who don’t take risks at work are the ones who drive me up a goddamn wall. Do you know how hard it is to get fired for taking a risk? Super hard. People don’t get fired for failing, they get fired for being a lazy bag of dicks. Are you wondering, “Should I apply discretionary effort and try something new?” The answer is yes. I mean, you know, use good judgment. Work within your abilities and don’t be a dumbass. But nobody is gonna fire you for being creative and eager.

Too much energy is spent managing uncoachable workers who can’t take feedback or won’t take risks. Not enough time is spent doing cool shit and breaking stuff.

So of you have people on your staff who get in the way of progress, 2017 is your year to make key personnel changes. Or if you work for uncoachable individuals who won’t listen to your ideas and play it safe, it’s time to rethink your place of employment.

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The southern part of the United States just had some nasty winter weather. There was snow, sleet, and ice in North Carolina. We also had unseasonably cold temperatures, which sucks because I don’t own cold-weather clothing.

I didn’t leave my house for over 72 hours.

I was upset about the weather because my company‘s first meeting was scheduled for last Thursday. We’re a virtual team, we’ve made a commitment to meet monthly, and every single person lives below the Mason-Dixon line. Winter weather shouldn’t factor into our travel. Unfortunately, my flights were delayed before I began to think about packing.

So, before anybody got stranded or had an anxiety attack from dealing with the airlines, I canceled the trip and set some ground rules for company travel.

Don’t get on a plane if you’re pretty sure you’ll get stranded. Unless there’s a million bucks on the line and maybe not even then.

It’s family first when there’s a storm. Without apology, you stay home. This policy applies to winter weather, or more commonly in the south, hurricanes.

When in doubt, rebook. Especially if the airlines are offering no-fee rebooking. Duh.

No trip is worth extra Xanax. Even if your flight is on time and it is smooth sailing, you can always change your plans if the world feels like it’s coming to an end. Let’s talk about it. (This one is for me.)

Flexibility goes both ways. If you miss a flight, make it up by being an extra awesome colleague who gets stuff done. Our experiences with one another should be positive and healthy enough to overcome flight delays and missed connections.

This isn’t revolutionary stuff because adulthood isn’t revolutionary. I’m not running a daycare center. I’m not anybody’s mom except for my cats. And I work with people I love. Nobody is getting in the way of our success. Not the airlines, not the weatherman, and certainly not Old Man Winter.

So here’s where things stand: our meetings have been rescheduled, the South is warming up, and our company continues to push forward. Canceled flights are no big deal when you run a mature and easygoing organization that gets shit done — no matter the location.

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“Should I go into HR?”

I think it’s a great profession for many people.

Go into HR if you’re a young mom.

The cool thing about human resources is that the job offers a ton of flexibility if you can keep your eye on the prize: your kids. The barrier to entry is low, and you’ll work with like-minded individuals who want to have fun and don’t take life too seriously. The other good news? You don’t need a degree in human resources to work in HR. Jobs in payroll and benefits may occasionally demand long hours, but compared to other corporate jobs, your work-life options are strong. My only advice? Stay away from staffing.

Go into HR if you’re a young dude.

There aren’t enough young men in HR, which means you’ll stand out and have an opportunity to add some “diversity” to the mix. Also, men who work in female-dominated industries tend to outearn women. You get promoted faster, too. Bad news for chicks, good news for you.

Go into HR if you’re in marketing.

Hate your job in marketing? No kidding. Who wants to be bossed around by sales directors who chase quotas but think they know everything? There’s a role for you in today’s recruiting department. You can use your marketing and communications skills to help companies communicate their value proposition to job seekers. It’s a sweet gig and pays more than you suspect.

Go into HR if you’re in sales.

Well, let me clarify: go into recruiting. And don’t go into third-party recruiting. Find someone with the title of “director of talent acquisition” and talk to them about hiring people. Companies need your help, bro. You still need X% of people in your pipeline, blah blah blah, but the overall process is similar. It’s much more rewarding to recruit than to sell widgets or satellite TV packages.

Go into HR if you haven’t finished your college degree.

You should go to college and complete your degree. Here’s how you do it. Find an entry-level job in HR with tuition assistance and take advantage of that benefit. Then finish your degree at a traditional school in the evenings. Don’t blow the opportunity and attend a for-profit college. And, trust me, this advice is golden.

But, please, don’t go into HR if you hate people. We don’t need that kind of negativity in this profession. You have to like people to do this job properly.

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Organized religion is a simple man’s way to understand philosophy. Many of the big questions are explained for the average consumer who doesn’t want to do a deeper dive into the meaning of life beyond his individual experience.

So it’s weird for me to read management books from people who steal ideas from organized religion and get away with it. Some writers openly plagiarize Gandhi, Jesus, and Buddha — and apply historical lessons in business environments — and don’t get called out for being content thieves.

Worst are the writers who go Buddha-lite or Jesus-lite and try to teach me something that’s been taught to human beings for thousands of years. I feel like screaming, “Hey, you didn’t discover that a desire for happiness equals suffering! Please cite the big books, bud.”

(I’m looking at you, you asshole servant leaders. Don’t think I don’t know you’re stealing from Jesus.)

I just wrapped up The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life by Mark Manson. It’s a quick read, tremendously entertaining, and gives credit where credit is due to the Buddha. That’s because giving a fuck, especially the right kinds of fucks, is very Buddhist.

If you’re a sales bro who doesn’t have time for eastern thinking, Manson delivers Buddhism 101 to you with a lot of swear words.

* The nature of consciousness requires us to suffer
* The more you resist, the more you suffer
* Get out of your head
* Make conscious decisions about how and where you’re going to suffer
* Then go into the real world and be of service to somebody

He also believes that marketing drives many of us to invent problems because we lack perspective and forget that happiness is found in solving problems and serving others.

Those are good messages to anybody creating a start-up or even chasing a sales quota. Success isn’t measured by material objects or youth or beauty; it’s measured by your compassion for others and your utility to your community. Care about more important things and alleviate some of your existential unhappiness.

I don’t hate the thesis. What bothers me about this book is that, in teaching Buddhist principles, it lacks compassion for people who are so far down the rabbit hole that they can’t flip a switch without more serious intervention. The individual with an anxiety disorder that’s legit and not just fake? The person with $100,000 in debt who can’t dig herself out of a hole? The man with alcoholism? This book isn’t for people who are functional but broken because it lacks compassion for their severe disorders.

So that’s one reason not to read it. And this book had me asking the same question I ask whenever I read a book about becoming a better version of myself or hacking my way into a more fulfilling future: can self-help books ever change a life? Or do they just perpetuate a cycle of learned helplessness and create a dependency on others — authors, experts, thought leaders — to show us the way out of our own heads?

Thankfully, Mason tells us that he’s not a guru. He’s just someone who gives a fuck about his audience and wants to try to show us a better path forward. And I like how he knows that only you can save yourself. You could do worse than to read a book that wants to help you be more like the Buddha.

But, yet, he’s still writing a self-help book. And whether you’re Tony Robbins or Elizabeth Gilbert, I’m not sure books ever provoke change. We make our own changes when we’re ready. A book might be a suitable catalyst for rebooting your life, but probably not.

And, furthermore, change happens through the physical manifestation of introverted decision-making made real. We have to think it, then decide to do it, and then go into the real world and live our new lives. That new life is the outcome of an exhaustingly extroverted commitment to the concept of change. Nobody tells you this, but you must surrounding yourself with like-minded people who have also made a commitment to change to be successful.

That’s why your cousin finds Jesus — or a crazy yoga instructor — and never comes back. He can’t come back. His path has been radically altered. You’re no longer part of his journey.

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life is a good place to start for a lot of reasons — lessons in Buddhism, an opportunity to think about a new life in the new year — but it’s just the beginning. Giving a fuck about the right things is a challenge of a lifetime.

But, once you put down the book, I hope you find a real-world support system to be the change you want to see in the world.

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Hey, everybody. It’s my birthday weekend. I’ll be 42 on Sunday. That’s 21. Twice. What an accomplishment, right? Wanna get crunk? Want to do shots?

Yeah, man. That sounds great. I’m right behind you.

But, first, my annual birthday appeal. I’ve asked you to make a donation to Hustle Up the Hancock every year for the past four years. It’s my fifth year, and I’d love your support.

What’s Hustle Up the Hancock? Well, I run up 94 floors to fight lung diseases like cancer, asthma, and COPD. I hustle up those stairs for every kid who gets hooked on cigarettes. I hustle for adults with asthma inhalers who wish they could run but cannot. And I hustle for people with COPD and lung cancer who need millions of dollars of medical intervention just to stay alive.

Last year, a friend of mine from elementary school passed away right before Hustle Up the Hancock. She was forty-one years old and died from complications due to lung cancer treatment. She was a mother, a runner, and she was at the top of her health when she went to the doctor to complain of nagging back pain after a car accident.

Less than a year later, she was dead.

Hustle Up the Hancock is ultra-personal to me. I will hustle up those stairs for as long as I’m able to do it, and I would love an appreciate your support. A donation of $5 would mean the world to me on my birthday. Thanks again for your help.

PS – If you are sick of these annual appeals, why don’t you donate to my friend Dominique Rodgers? She’s doing the hustle for the first time, and she would welcome your support.

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