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marijuana HR cannabisI have a friend who hates her job and suffers lower back pain and anxiety.

Wait, that’s not fair. I have at least seven girlfriends who fit this composite character. They all take cannabis in some form to alleviate symptoms and improve their overall quality of life.

The transformation in my generation has been remarkable. These are white women who possibly voted for Trump — with families and serious HR jobs — who are now fluent in different cannabis strains and various delivery mechanisms like food, suppositories, oils, simple vaping devices, elaborate bongs like they’re back studying poetry at the University of Illinois in 1996.

None of them are cured, by the way. Some of them feel better, but a few have rebound anxiety. When I mention it, they jump down my throat and tell me it’s not rebound anxiety — it’s their awful jobs and lives.

I’ve asked, “Can it be both cannabis and the external environment causing your anxiety to get worse?”

No, it’s not the weed. Back off. Maybe I should do my research.

People will do anything to make themselves feel better, and I’m not here to judge how somebody addresses physical and emotional pain. I have my own problems with alcohol, and the CBD and cannabis craze doesn’t eliminate the drivers for me to drink. I know because I’ve tried. The only thing that makes me feel better is a lifestyle rooted in emotional rigor, honesty, drinking lots of water, eight hours of sleep and eating better.

I believe that we fix work by fixing ourselves. If CBD oil or sativa chocolates work for you and helps you to live your best life, that’s great. You’ll be a better employee. But I have to imagine every HR department out there is like me—making assumptions about cannabis, CBD, THC, sativa, indica, oil, tinctures, pills, gummies, suppositories, and patches without a bunch of first-hand knowledge.

I have some resources for you.

My friend, Don MacPherson, interviewed Giadha Aguirre de Carcer — CEO of New Frontier Data. They spoke about ‘Demystifying the Cannabis Industry,’

My good friend Kate Bischoff did a great DisruptHR talk called “To Pee Or Not To Pee: Drug Testing & Marijuana.”

Eric B. Meyer wrote a thoughtful article called, “Your employee uses medical marijuana. Her drug test is positive. But, how do you know if she was high at work?

Wherever you fall on the spectrum of this topic—curious observer, advocate, ally, casual user, patient, skeptic, abuser, opponent—it’s time to get educated. And if you work in HR, add this to another thing on your list.

Although I have a funny feeling that your local HR lady already knows more about this topic than the average employee. The last person to push gummies on me was a VP of HR at a conference, and she seemed to be living her best life away from the kids, in a hotel room without a husband and alleviating her lower back pain without going to the gym.

Sometimes HR ladies do it right!

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Have you ever been in a situation at work where you witnessed something uncomfortable but were too afraid to say anything? Or maybe you just didn’t know how to handle the situation. I’ve been there too and it’s not the best scenario, in fact, it can feel downright icky.  

Very early in my career, I watched a VP come on strong to a coworker, he befriended her and gave her some additional opportunities at work. Then he loaned her money and they started dating “in secret.” Eventually, he had a meltdown and abandoned her. Her career stalled and she ultimately quit. Nobody ever said anything.  Not a single person! Well, okay, I started asking questions of her, but I still didn’t know what to say. And to this day, that whole thing still bothers me.

So what can we do? What can we do to prepare ourselves to handle awkward, uncomfortable or inexcusable behavior in the workplace?

Enter virtual reality. Wait, what?

Yes, you read that correctly, virtual reality could be the solution to the problem or at least address part of it.

In a recent episode of Let’s Fix Work, Morgan Mercer, founder and CEO of Vantage Point, joined me to talk about how virtual reality is paving the way to help us learn how to deal with difficult workplace scenarios with compassion and empathy.

Morgan and her company, Vantage Point, are using virtual reality to aid in anti-sexual harassment training. By using a standalone Virtual Reality headset (like an Oculus Rift), leaders, managers, and employees can now immerse themselves in a world of virtual reality where they can experience or witness sexual harassment. Then through a series of games, tests, or quizzes, they can learn how to deal with the situation.

In doing so, Morgan says, “The experience allows you to feel discomfort and we’ll tie those feelings to actions you can take to positively influence the outcome. And then we allow you to see the ways that these situations play out. Your feelings are then translated into information.”

But if VR technology can teach us to be compassionate and can teach us empathy, can it actually change behaviors and change attitudes?  

Morgan believes so, “You learn through adversity, you learn through discomfort, ultimately adversity and discomfort are what caused you to look inwardly and really question yourself. And that’s really where you shift your belief system. So through changing your heart, through changing your mind, then you change your behaviors. You can’t shift your behavior if you don’t shift your belief system or your values.”

If you want to hear some of the best ways to handle sexual harassment at work and how virtual reality is paving the way to help us learn how to deal with these scenarios, then click here to listen to this episode of Let’s Fix Work.

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Namely believes there’s one team that can help make your workplace great: HR. When their days are filled with administrative to-dos, they can’t focus on the big stuff—like parental leave and promotions. Namely’s all-in-one HR, payroll, and benefits platform makes their lives easier, saving them an average of 11 hours each week. Over 1,000 companies use Namely to build a better workplace. Get a free demo at Namely.com/podcast

Let’s Fix Work Episode 63

This week I welcome Lindsey Pollak to the Let’s Fix Work lounge. Lindsey is a multigenerational workplace expert, keynote speaker, and author of the book, The Remix. She is one of the earliest people to talk about the Strauss-Howe Generational Theory. She does not like generational shaming or stereotypes. I just love Lindsey and we have a super fun show in store for you today.

In this episode, we talk about how five generations are working in the workforce right now. Plus, we talk in-depth about how we can take the best from all five generations, learn from one another and actually have some fun in the world of work. So if you’d like to hear two Gen Xers being a little nostalgic and talking about work, you’re going to love this episode of Let’s Fix Work.

In this episode, you’ll hear:

  1. What inspired Lindsey to write her book, The Remix
  2. “Rules” of the workspace, one size fits none philosophy and the “solution” for workspaces
  3. Current trends in the workforce, including personalization and transparency
  4. Some assumptions made about today’s workforce, like everyone wants to work from home
  5. What we are missing from work in today’s society
  6. Shaming and blaming of generations, and re-entering the workforce after some time

Resources from this episode:

Thanks to our sponsor: Namely.com/podcast

Lindsey’s website

The Remix

Drop This Beat: Lindsey Pollak Is Remixing The Workplace

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Hey, everybody, just wanted to say hello.

I’m up to my eyeballs in work that doesn’t make me wealthy, which is the worst kind of work.

When you work for a company and have a little bit of gravitas, people do things for you. When you work on your own, you watch your cash flow and only outsource the truly life-changing tasks.

But I did want to tell you about a few things.

1. I’m going to SHRM but won’t be attending the conference. Instead, I’m in meetings and heading out to celebrate my friend Jennifer McClure’s birthday. It’s what I do every year: complain about the conference, show up around the ecosystem, and hate myself for attending an HR conference instead of going to The Maldives. I don’t have time to see anybody socially except Jennifer, but, if you’re attending the show, make sure you check out the sessions from Jennifer McClure, Tim Sackett, and Kris Dunn.

2. My HR Book Club is on the backburner. It’s not a priority right now because my life revolves around running a speaking business, consulting, coaching, and writing a book. But I’m going to kick things back into gear after Labor Day, and I’d love some book suggestions. What have you read that you love? Tell me at hello@letsfixwork.com and maybe we can swap recommendations.

3. I’m speaking at a few places, this summer. I’ll be volunteering my time as a keynote speaker at the inaugural Hacking HR event in Durham, NC. Then I’ll be at Plansource Eclipse in July. You can also find me at the HCI event in Denver. (I’m leaving that HCI event and flying to Chicago to see Spoon, Beck, and Cage the Elephant and maybe my family. I’m excited about that.) Finally, I’ll be at HR + L&D Innovation &Tech Fest in Johannesburg in August. If you’re at these events, say hello like a normal person and maybe we can chat!

Those are my updates. Thanks for all your warm wishes and support. It’s been a busy year, and I’m so close to a next-level breakthrough. I just have to run payroll and reconcile my Quickbooks accounts first.

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When people ask me how I got started as a writer and a speaker, I can see a direct line between the way I used email very early in my HR career to the way that I’m writing my book today. I tell stories mostly about myself for illustrative purposes so people can learn.

This actually has a name, it is called “lifecasting.”

There’s an excellent book, Influencer by Brittany Hennessy, about building a brand and figuring out how to monetize your efforts in the age of social media. According to her book, by definition, I’m a content creator who’s an expert and uses a blog and other social media tools to share my knowledge, and most notably, I’m a lifecaster.

Some stories can get rather personal, am I right?  My question to you is, “Is it always okay to just go ahead and share them?” I mean, they’re your stories, right? Well, there are several things to consider when it comes to lifecasting:

  1. You have to be brave and willing to boldly share the truth about something interesting going on in your life.
  2. What you share needs to be meaningful – maybe the story will be able to impact someone else, touching their life or helping them get through a situation of their own.
  3. Do you have the time and patience? It takes a while to create a following. Lifecasting can be very lucrative and a wonderful experience, but are you up to the challenge?

You also need to take a look at the flipside. There are several reasons not to get involved in lifecasting, such as:

  1. If you are insecure and solely want to share stories to get back at others who have wronged you in some way. This is a toxic way of acting and not a reason to get into lifecasting.
  2. If you shame easily and don’t like negative feedback, skip lifecasting. Just skip it.

I have some thoughts on these elements as well as other considerations that I share in a recent episode of my podcast that you can hear right here. In the episode, I’ll go over some of my ideas on how to get started by testing out the waters before jumping all the way into the waters of lifecasting!

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Namely believes there’s one team that can help make your workplace great: HR. When their days are filled with administrative to-dos, they can’t focus on the big stuff—like parental leave and promotions. Namely’s all-in-one HR, payroll, and benefits platform makes their lives easier, saving them an average of 11 hours each week. Over 1,000 companies use Namely to build a better workplace. Get a free demo at Namely.com/podcast

Let’s Fix Work Episode 62

Have you ever been in a situation at work where you witnessed something uncomfortable but you didn’t say anything? Or have you seen leaders exhibit behaviors that are rude or offensive but you were unsure what to do about it? I’ve been there and it was highly uncomfortable. In fact, the situation still bothers me to this day.  Here’s the CliffNotes version: Very early in my career, I watched a VP come on strong to a coworker, he befriended her and gave her some additional opportunities at work. Then he loaned her money and they started dating “in secret.” Eventually he had a meltdown and abandoned her. Her career stalled and she ultimately quit. Guess what, everyone? Nobody ever got mad at that VP. Not a single person! Well, that’s not true. I started asking questions of her, but I didn’t know what to say.

On today’s show I’m talking to Morgan Mercer, founder and CEO of Vantage Point. She is an expert in this field and I am hopeful we can all learn a thing or two from her.  Vantage Point uses virtual reality (yes, you read that correctly) to immerse employees, leaders, and managers into scenarios just like the one I described. They then train and test the same individuals on how to respond to difficult situations at work, appropriately.

If you want to hear some of the best ways to handle sexual harassment at work and how virtual reality is paving the way to help us learn how to deal with these scenarios with compassion and empathy, then sit back and listen to this episode of Let’s Fix Work.

In this episode, you’ll hear:

  1. What standalone virtual reality is and how it can help with anti-sexual harassment training
  2. How virtual reality scenarios help people allocate all of their resources to solving an issue and how it helps people to translate feelings into information
  3. Why and how Vantage Point started with anti-sexual harassment training
  4. The idea that technology can teach you to be compassionate and can teach you empathy, but can it actually change behaviors and change attitudes through this type of training?
  5. Why sexual harassment training through virtual reality is important for employers,  what they learn, and how they can set future training scenarios
  6. Morgan shares some stories of how Vantage Point’s technology has been shown to change behaviors, outcomes, or moved organizations forward
  7. Morgan shares her personal why, including why she is interested in fixing work from this perspective

Why Morgan does the work she does: “Women don’t speak out unless they speak up in unison.  When you realize the level of inequality that so many people live with and face across the board, from economic background to various genders, their ethnicity to whatever it may be, it’s really impossible for me not to care. When I leave the world one day I want to look back and I want to feel like I made an impact.” Morgan Mercer, Founder and CEO, Vantage Point

Resources from this episode:

Thanks to our sponsor: Namely.com/podcast

Tryvantagepoint.com

Can VR teach us how to deal with sexual harassment?

Can VR make us more empathetic?

How Virtual Reality Is Helping To Empower Women

Can Sexual Harassment Training Come of Age?

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What’s your worst quality?

I am thin-skinned, which makes it hard to give me coaching or feedback. The good news is that I’m aware of it and make an effort to slow down, thank someone for constructive feedback, and process both the intent and content before I respond.

Doesn’t always happen, but I’m trying.

Carl Jung famously said everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves, which is true. I hate thin-skinned motherfuckers on the internet, and it takes everything in my power not to be triggered and respond back.

Vicious cycle with no winners. Who needs that?

But check this out: I’ve hired a young woman to help with my Twitter, Facebook, IG and podcast inbox over the summer. She reads through my inbound inquiries, flags what’s important, and responds with templates to the rest. That way I’m organized on Sunday morning and can get through my business correspondence in a flash.

Cheaper than a virtual assistant, faster than sorting through this bullshit myself. And, to be fair, most of it is bullshit. Especially this exchange from an author who wrote a book about behavioral science.

If I unmask his name, I’m a petty bitch who causes trouble. Also, I might put myself in harm’s way. Some people are weird, and there’s always the risk of violence. Sunshine is the best disinfectant, but you never know what chaos and darkness lurk behind a random DM.

If don’t unmask his name, he gets away with proactively asking a random woman on the internet for her address and getting mad at her team’s automated response when he doesn’t get his way. Would he want his wife, daughter, intimate partner, sister or mother giving out her address to some stranger? Is this how we operate in 2019?

Honestly, here’s how I feel: conflicted. There’s a part of me that wants to be helpful. I could go back and offer marketing advice. You know, provide better language on how to approach strangers when selling a book. But that’s insane. Why would I do his job for him?

I’m thin-skinned enough that this has bothered me for a minute, but also self-aware enough to know that I was given a gift — a lesson on how not to market my forthcoming book. So I’ll take this as a win and keep this gentleman’s identity masked.

Takes a thin-skinned asshole to know one. Guilty as charged. Let’s hope we can both build character and move on from here.

(But he’s a shitty jerk, right? Right? Okay, fine, I’ll let it go.)

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the menopause

Years ago, I worked in an HR department where menopausal HR ladies would rip off their sweaters, open the office windows, and crank up the air conditioning in the middle of winter because of hot flashes.

I’d come in from a cold and snowy employee parking lot and scream, “Why is it so cold in here? Can’t you ladies get a fan?”

The menopausal HR ladies would tell me to shut up — rightly so — and then talk about their night sweats and dry vaginas as casually as someone might chat about long-term disability insurance.

Let’s say I learned a lot about the body, so, when I started having hot flashes a few years ago, I knew what was happening: karma.

I’m extraordinarily young — or so the doctors keep reminding me — but I’ve been through the menopause. My ovaries don’t make estrogen. It’s over for me. Happened in a blink of an eye. One day I was bleeding heavily and irregularly, and then I wasn’t.

Menopause is not a medical condition, it’s a phase of life that can happen to women for a lot of reasons: age, DNA, autoimmune diseases, thyroid conditions, or hysterectomies. Mine is DNA.

It’s no big deal except I have hot flashes like those baggy old HR bitches back in Chicago, and I’m on a bunch of hormones to make me feel like a young whippersnapper.

My estrogen, progesterone and testosterone cocktail is working well. I feel pretty good and donated all my tampons to a local domestic violence shelter. Thought about cutting my hair and wearing wide-legged bohemian harem pants with sandals, too. Might as well embrace this time in my life.

But then I got my period after receiving steroid injections for my hips and remembered what it was like to be a young woman in high school with raging cramps. Heavy uterine bleeding is an underreported side effect of steroid injections. My stomach puffed out, my insides churned, and I couldn’t sit down and moderate a panel at a conference because I was afraid that I’d bleed through my dress.

People kept offering me a chair. I was like, nah, that’s okay, I prefer not to sit in my own pool of blood.

I’ve been told no menopausal journey is quite the same — and I want to vomit in my mouth for typing out the words ‘menopausal journey’ — but there is one thing that’s the same: my tendency to go first, experience something crazy, and write about it.

So, if you’re married to someone who is menopausal or going through it yourself, reach out to me.

Those HR ladies in Chicago had it right, though. Talking candidly about menopause is the correct thing to do because it educates a younger generation and also makes everybody feel uncomfortable, which is also oddly satisfying.

Thank you for reading and participating in a non-traditional source of therapy for me!

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Recently I had the pleasure of welcoming Patrick Lynch, President of CMP Southeast Region, to Let’s Fix Work. Now, we are all well aware that the workplace is changing and challenging. And that applies to people at all stages of their careers, from those just starting out to those who are possibly winding things down and looking forward to retirement. How do companies and individuals manage all of the growing issues with getting the right people into the right jobs? Well, that is where Pat comes in. His company is a talent and transition firm that helps HR leaders develop their people and teams across the full talent life cycle – from talent acquisition and leadership development to organization development and outplacement support.

But I wanted to put the focus on outplacement. What about the inherent concerns, stresses, and struggles that accompany transitioning between jobs? In our conversation, Pat discusses some of those issues people face when they find themselves moving from one job to another. Oftentimes, people are caught off guard by a company that has changed course and is now altering their workforce. So, he encourages people to always stay up to date with their industry and skills and be open-minded about their work and their futures. He says, “Things are moving at such a fast rate that you have to be always keeping yourself current because some industry darling all of a sudden could be disrupted in a matter of a few short years. Now, what do you do? So you have to have that ability to adapt and be flexible.” That involves networking, always putting yourself out there, and positioning yourself to be ready to take advantage of new opportunities that may come your way.

In order to be able to take advantage of those opportunities, he stresses learning.

That means being a life-long learner. It doesn’t matter what age you are, there is always more to learn. As he says, “You have to learn to be a learner.” It is so important to always be developing yourself and your skills so that you are marketable when transitioning between jobs. We all need to embrace that idea of constant learning so that we can be creative when the time comes to find a new job. You may have to step out of your comfort zone to improve your skill set.

So, are you ready to take control of your future at work? If so, be sure to listen to this engaging episode of Let’s Fix Work as we discuss the challenges facing workers of all types in this economy, ways to think more strategically about outplacement, and finding a new job.

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Do you love listening to other people’s stories and experiences from their daily lives? If so, you are not alone! This has become a major industry, with “influencers” showing up across multiple social media platforms and playing a role in the decisions people make. Being an influencer may seem like the perfect job. After all, some of them make huge incomes from their blogs, vlogs, and YouTube channels! But is it right for everyone?

I’ve been sharing my experiences with others since very early in my HR career. I emailed stories about myself to illustrate elements of my life so that people could learn something from those experiences I was having. Today we refer to this practice as “lifecasting,” and on this episode, we’re going to talk about the ins and outs of lifecasting.

Through my lifecasting, you’ve got a front row seat to my life! I’ve always been a lifecaster, even when I worked in human resources and I only had access to email years ago. That was my original way to get my message out. However, as the technology has changed, the distribution methods for my message have as well. In today’s episode, we’ll explore the idea of lifecasting, and I’ll give you my thoughts on the practice.

In this episode, you’ll hear:

  1. How I got into lifecasting and my success with it
  2. What lifecasting is and reasons to do it or not to do it
  3. Knowing what is inbounds and what is out of bounds for sharing
  4. Ways to test out this lifestyle to see if blogging/vlogging/sharing is for you

Resources from this episode:

Thanks to our sponsor: Greenhouse.io

Brittany Hennessy “Influencer”

Lifecasting: What It Is and How It Will Change Society

greenhouseopen.com/ Use code fixwork for 25% off your ticket

 

Thank you to our sponsor, Greenhouse Software! At Greenhouse OPEN 2019, their annual conference, they are celebrating the Talent Makers – the people who have figured out how great hiring drives business growth. Registration is open for the conference. I’ll be there speaking and I would love to see you! Head on over to GreenHouseOpen.com and use code fixwork for 25% off discount your conference ticket. Then I’ll see you in New York in June!

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