epipenAn EpiPen saved my life on Saturday night.

Well, it saved me a trip to the emergency room.

I have food allergies and ate something off my husband’s plate that caused an anaphylactic reaction. My lips began to tingle. My throat started to close. I struggled to breathe, and my body attempted to throw up the food I just ate. It was gross and scary.

The EpiPen, which is a medical device that administered epinephrine into my body, worked like a charm.

I’m telling you this because food allergies are no joke. Most people don’t know that coughing and vomiting can be a sign of anaphylaxis. A neighbor was just telling me that some kid outside was vomiting, and she turned away in disgust. The kid had an allergic reaction to ice cream. It was the boy’s younger brother who ran inside and got an EpiPen.

(Yeah, man. Neighbors. Worthless. But, more importantly, thank goodness for little brothers!)

Food allergies are everywhere, and I was critical of Mylan for jacking up the price of an EpiPen. But there’s no doubt that the EpiPen saves lives, and it has some value in our society. It’s not just one thing that makes it magical, either.

1. There’s the autoinjector, which works without jamming up. It doesn’t have a hair-trigger and doesn’t hurt when it administers the epinephrine.

2. There’s the design, which is easy enough to use during anaphylaxis or by an untrained professional who’s just trying to help.

3. And there’s the packaging, which does its best to keep epinephrine stored in a safe and stable manner.

Should an EpiPen cost over $500? Should the CEO make a bajillion dollars? Should American pharmaceutical companies be allowed to corner the market and gouge consumers to determine the highest possible price point?

No, but highly-skilled labor isn’t cheap, and neither is investing and building out a roadmap for future medical devices that auto-inject epinephrine. And there’s an exhausting path that pharmaceutical companies must take to prove that drugs work and don’t cause other problems.

I generally avoid healthcare discussions when there are only either/or scenarios to consider, mostly because I don’t want to hear your dumb point of view on healthcare. There are smart people out there with good ideas, but the polarizing nature of our politics won’t let those practical solutions rise to the surface.

But it’s important for me to share the signs of an anaphylactic reaction. It can happen in kids and adults. If you see a kid vomiting in your neighborhood, don’t turn away like an asshole. Be a responsible human being and offer some help.

And don’t be so quick to jump on the latest social media bandwagon and hate on something just because other people hate it. Mylan has a lot of nerve pretending like the executive team earned its inflated salary because of product innovation. (They made it because of marketing and lobbying.) But, you know, thank goodness for the EpiPen. I’m here because of it.

Now let’s see some investment, disruption, and innovation in the market so that other people can survive an anaphylactic reaction, too.


My friend, Steve Browne, hates it when people descend into the “tarpit of generational discussions.” He’s right. There are too many generalizations and stereotypes that weigh down our meaningful discussions.

But I’ve been blogging since February 2004, and I have at least two generations of readers who have been with me for my entire journey. And I’ve been with them through their career journeys, too.

Some of my Gen X HR readers are now VPs. These are men and women in positions of power, and they want to do things differently than their Baby Boomer predecessors. These new VPs grew up in the era of Queen Bees and distasteful dudes who liked to say things like, “I work in HR, but I have the CEO’s ear.”

Not much love for the old type of HR — who thought they were awesome — and a new generation of leadership wants to do things differently.

(I guess that’s pretty typical for anyone who ascends the throne. Generational differences are really just phases, right?)

These Gen X leaders enjoy working in HR, but they’re not going to work in HR at the expense of their families. Baby Boomers wondered if you could do it all, but many women my age have opted out of HR to raise their kids and, also, take care of their Baby Boomer parents who are getting older.

So, and here’s my broader point, there’s a small cohort of leaders over the age of 40 and under 55 who are trying to create a fun and innovative environment but are also keenly aware that work is, ultimately, work. Your family is your family. No matter how much you want to blend the two, work-life is distinctly different from real-life.

And, I can’t believe I’m writing this, but Millenials in HR are sending me letters because they are frustrated with their Gen X bosses. They don’t feel loved.

Like, parental love. Like, mentoring with some interest in their personal lives. Like, friendship.

I try to explain that Gen Xers are, for the most part, not old enough to be a parent to a 28-year-old kid. And I try to remind Millennials that they are not kids themselves.

But I accept the broader point that some people in HR want warmer and more friendly relationships with their bosses. I’ve read the phrases “nice enough” and “would fight for me” in the same paragraph as the words “distant” and “closed off.”

What I gather is that some of my Millennial readers — more than two and less than a dozen — want to love their bosses but don’t feel the love in return.

Is that a sweeping generalization? Sure.

Is this a pattern I see in my inbox? Yes.

I don’t mind saying that some Gen X HR leaders should let down their guard and offer more emotional support to the younger adults who work on their teams. Dare I say that the secret to winning the hearts and minds of your younger colleagues is to be beloved?

No, Christ, nobody wants to be beloved. That’s a lot of work. But you could certainly show some warmth.

And, my dear Millenials, your boss is not your mom or dad. If you need mothering and support, look to your family, friends or the EAP. And give your boss a break. He is working a full-time job and offering emotional support up-and-down the rungs of his family ladder. He trusts that you have your shit together. Don’t let him down.

There is a way to talk about “phases of life” and “generational issues” without sounding like a sketchy IO psychologist on the main stage at a national SHRM conference. No? No? Well, maybe not at SHRM but definitely in our broader discourse.

And I guess what I want to tell you, dear readers, is to chill the hell out. Be kind and demonstrate both empathy and personal resiliency. You’re more like to get emotionally support from the people around you if you don’t burn them out with daily requests for respect and affirmation.

That’s such a Gen X response, I know. But I’m right.


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!

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