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I’m picky about my music, and every song has a shelf-life with me. While there are a few songs that will always remain listenable, most music expires after I hear it more than a couple of dozen times.

My feelings apply to my favorite genres: new wave, punk, and industrial. It also applies to Christmas music.

I don’t want a lot for Christmas
There is just one thing I need
I don’t care about the presents
Underneath the Christmas tree
I just want some songs I don’t know
More than you could ever know
Make my wish come true oh
All I want for Christmas is new tunes

I’m not John Cusack, but I used to make Christmas music tapes as cheap and free gifts for my friends. Then I started burning Christmas CDs with [not pirated, I would never steal] found music.

Now I do Spotify.

So here’s this year’s Christmas music mix of songs I can tolerate, some classics, and some new additions to my list. Gone are the kitschy covers and deep cuts of years past because I cannot listen to those deep cuts, anymore.

Hope you have fun with it, and remember one quick thing about making a Christmas list: the only that matters is Darlene Love.

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It’s the time of year where HR companies push content marketing that takes one of two forms:

1. 2016 Year in Review
2. 2017 HR and Recruiting Predictions

For years, I wrote these articles for my clients. Now that I’m focused on other things in my life, this work falls to other marketing professionals. And, while I don’t blame anybody for writing about topics that get read, most year-end HR content is a copy+paste from previous years.

I wish someone would write an honest wrap-up that begins, “It’s impossible for an entire year to suck, but 2016 was fairly shitty for HR and recruiting professionals.”

I’d read that. It’s honest and correct.

For those marketing profesionals who write predictions for 2017, I beg you to give me paragraphs instead of lists. Also, don’t give me quotes from people I don’t know who have opinions that don’t move markets. Thought leadership is dead. (That’s both a 2016 wrap-up item and a 2017 prediction. You can quote me.)

Want a better idea? Do a Billy On The Street and ask real HR and recruiting professionals to predict the future.

Then do what media companies do: break the video into hilarious chunks and images. Post it on your digital channels.

I DON'T GIVE A SHIT ABOUT YOUR WESTWORLD THEORIES!! New Billy on the Street with ANDY SAMBERG 10:30/9:30c on @trutv!

A photo posted by Billy Eichner (@billyeichner) on

I know I’m out of the game, but I can’t help wanting more from the marketing pros who publish content for HR and recruiting teams. This industry needs you to entertain, push boundaries, and teach its members something new. And, you heard it here first, boring year-end-wrap-ups and future-forward listicles won’t do.

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It’s pretty miserable to work overtime. I know this because I’ve worked plenty of overtime in my life. In fact, I worked overtime during my summer jobs throughout school and in several of my early HR jobs.

While it was okay to earn time-and-a-half for my efforts beyond my typical 40-hour workweek, I would’ve appreciated a higher base salary and more coworkers.

For me, it’s a quality of life issue.

First of all, a higher base salary would have meant that my wages were in line with the rising costs of my housing, utilities, and student loan debt. I wouldn’t have been so desperate to work overtime if my employers paid me what I deserved instead of nickel-and-diming me to death.

Second, more coworkers would have meant that more people were employed and available to cover shifts. That’s good for the economy, although expensive for business owners when you’re in a recession. I would have welcomed more colleagues during peak HR events such as open enrollment or the time of year when we’re crunching numbers to calculate executive bonuses.

(Oh, the irony of working overtime and earning $22.50/hour to calculate, gain approval for, and distribute seven-figure bonus checks for dudes who never knew what it was like to earn an hourly wage!)

I understand that overtime is the lifeblood of working class Americans, including hourly HR professionals. But I don’t like overtime pay on principle. I believe that OT represents a failed state of broken incentive systems, poor planning, and weak talent pipelines.

And municipalities and industries that rely on overtime to address talent shortages are poorly served by short-sided leaders and HR professionals who aren’t thinking strategically.

So I’m not a fan of overtime pay, but there’s a caveat: if you’re going to allow some workers to get overtime and prevent others, you should at least make sure the system is fair and equitable.

While some HR nerds don’t like the overtime rules that were implemented by the Obama administration (and now blocked) because it’s an expensive solution to a complex problem, I’m yet to hear a better idea. Few alternative solutions provide a reasonable pathway forward. And someone needs to watch out for employees who are locked into a job where they work 60 hours each week as “managers” or “supervisors” and have no power or authority but are paid a salary.

I can see why some business owners find the new rules daunting. However, if you’re going to run a business and be tight with your workforce, you shouldn’t run a business. Run a robot factory where you never have to look an employee in the face, instead.

But if you employ people, pay them properly. Guard their schedules, and don’t make anybody work overtime unless it’s required.

And, for those of you who work in HR, stop being a sycophant with no dignity who wants to impress her boss at the expense of the workforce. Just because your CEO has tight pockets doesn’t mean that you can’t work on behalf of America to pay people what they’ve rightfully earned.

It’s HR professionals like you — the ones who spit out lines from Fox News and argue the wrong points about overtime pay — who give the rest of us in HR a bad name.

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Confidence is the name of the game when you do anything at the professional level unless you’re a blogger.

If you’re a blogger, whether it be HR or golf, you are rewarded for introspection and self-doubt. The higher the level of dysfunction, the more readers feel as if you’re real and human. Radical uncertainty is the ultimate tool that allows readers to step into the role of author and learn something new about themselves.

If you think this applies to millennial female bloggers who write about their menstrual cycles, think again. From marketing to motorsports, most authors will admit that the most popular blog posts they’ve written are the ones that are intimate, confessional, and totally raw.

There are a few bloggers out there who try to flip the script and write about living self-actualized lives. But those bloggers drop a somber note every now and again to remind you that they were once flawed and broken. They might refer to an inflection point in the form of a mountain of financial debt or a career crisis, and it was in that very moment of radical uncertainty where they stepped out of the shadows of anxiety made a decision: be miserable or choose happiness.

My blogging career peaked in 2012 because I’m not talented enough to embrace radical uncertainty and teach everybody a lesson on a daily basis. And I don’t live an exciting enough life to offer a backstage pass to my life and motivate you to choose happiness or misery.

Choose whatever the heck you want.

I’m still blogging, though, because it’s a form of meditation. If consciousness exists in layers, my blog is a manifestation of how I deal with the first level of emotional storms, psychological smog, and cognitive debris.

So, for me, blogging is a selfish act. Yes, there’s some radical uncertainty. But there’s also a fair amount of confidence when it comes to HR because I know I’m right.

But mostly it’s just training and preparation.

Training and preparation for what? Who the hell knows. Work, life, everything. I’m just grateful that people stop over here to read what I write.

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Earlier this year, I started flushing. It’s a codeword for “fucking blushing” and getting warm.

No, I do not have hot flashes. I’m 41 years old. I am overheating in crowded rooms, tight spaces, or when my heart rate is elevated. There are many reasons why this can happen, but, for me, it’s anxiety-related.

And, unless I want to take a bucket of Xanax, I know that I need to cool down as my body heats up.

When I started researching flushing, I was hit with a ton of horrible information on the internet. First, it’s probably cancer. It’s always cancer until it’s not. Then science blamed my age and hormones. I was told to take a ton of supplements but to watch out for toxic side effects. Finally, I read that I should get a B12 shot.

The B12 injection is not a bad idea in general — not because I’m flushing — but because there is some evidence that vegetarians benefit from vitamin B supplements. But the rest of the advice was pretty awful and based on old wives tales, cultural traditions, and assumptions made from studies that haven’t been validated beyond the original scientific research.

Pomegranate and magnesium supplements? Black cohosh? Or how about I stay hydrated and limit my exposure to stressful situations?

It turns out, the last one works.

Evidence-based [anything] is the best way to get through life, and I believe it’s especially important to take an evidence-based approach to human resources management. Much of what we believe, from generational differences to talent management, is built on theories and biases from people who have been in positions of power for years.

Need more information on evidence-based HR? Check out this website. Also, read this presentation on evidence-based talent management. If you’re up for new ideas and a different way of thinking about HR, I think those resources will be good for you.

Finally, before you open your mouth and espouse wisdom on HR, play a game and assume what you’re about to say is totally wrong. I’ll give you an example.

Years ago, I had an HR boss who liked to walk the factory floor and talk to our shift workers. Seems reasonable, right? She’s building relationships. Well, yeah, we took our first-ever company survey and learned that the employees hated her and thought she was spying on them. She was building camaraderie, sure. The workers were all uniting in hatred against her.

So, consider yourselves warned. The only effective HR management strategy is one bolstered by evidence. Evidence-based HR may be the way of the future. God knows that everything else is just voodoo, chewing gum and a little bit of luck.

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My friend and advisor, Mary Ellen Slayter, asked me to write my business rules. She said it’s important to understand my personal values, and limits, as I run a new company.

I had two immediate thoughts.

1. No dicks.
2. Don’t boss me.

It’s not the most articulate set of business principles, for sure, but I did some journaling and the rest of my list is an offshoot of my original beliefs.

“I don’t want to be hassled.”

I mean it. I didn’t quit my cushy corporate job with PTO and benefits to manage someone else’s irrational feelings. I want to create a professional community where adults go to work and don’t bother one another. I think that falls under the “no dicks” rule.

“Kindness trumps competency.”

Is that true? In the age of epicene management styles, most of us forget that you can be businesslike and formal without being a dick. And you don’t have to boss me — and I don’t have to boss you — if everyone shows up and does a good job.

As I reread through my notes, I can see that I’m living in a utopian dream world where adults behave and govern themselves. Clearly, I’ve been out of HR for too long.

But “no dicks” and “don’t boss me” are the twin underpinnings of my business and management philosophies, and they are here to stay. I might also add that birthdays are sacrosanct, and snacks are mandatory, but I don’t have the budget for snacks.

Maybe we can eat cookies and cupcakes in 2017!

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I’ve learned a valuable lesson over the past 12 months. Namely, running a software company isn’t like running a professional services company.

As the owner of my HR/marketing consultancy, I’m 100% responsible for everything that happens in my shop. From business development to the quality of my work, the results are the outcome of my efforts. Even when I outsource different parts of my deliverables, the consequence is the same: the customer’s entire experience falls on me.

Running a software company is a little different. Priorities vary widely. Software engineers tell you that anybody can write code, which is sorta right. It’s the company’s culture — along with a good business strategy — that needs a CEO’s attention. The people in operations will tell you that culture and strategy are vital, but there’s no company without an uncomplicated codebase that’s secure and stable.

As the founder and CEO, all of that is true. Getting my business in sync with itself and launching a product is the challenge of a lifetime. And the compromises that I make right now can have far-reaching consequences that I won’t understand for years to come.

So, yeah, I’ve learned that compromise is the name of the game. Even in the most sophisticated organizations, there are limited funds and attention spans. People are passionate about one aspect of the business and have no interest in another. And having worked in seriously complex organizations throughout my entire career, I also know that throwing money at a problem rarely works unless it’s a problem that needs money, which is fewer than you’d expect. Most predicaments require brainpower, delicate communication, and compromise.

(There’s that damn word, again.)

Compromise is tough. It’s good to know who you are and who you aren’t when having crucial conversations that involve time, money and ego. It’s good to know what you value in your co-founders and partners. And it’s best to work with talented people who are kind, compassionate and accountable. It makes compromise less uncomfortable.

So maybe running a software company isn’t all that different from running a services company after all.

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Oscar Wilde said, “Anybody can sympathize with the sufferings of a friend, but it requires a very fine nature to sympathize with a friend’s success.”

I have found this to be true in my life, especially over the past year as I’ve transitioned out of being an HR famous blogger® and tried to establish myself as a writer, speaker, and founder of a software company.

I haven’t always been gracious when my HR famous friends do well in the marketplace. And I haven’t always been supportive when someone makes a killing and nabs a top-dollar speech while I’ve made no money since October.

Catching yourself in the act of being unpleasant and discourteous — especially while someone is celebrating an accomplishment — is shameful. (Well, it was shameful for me.) I’ve vowed not to let it happen again. And it’s also reminded me that my past and future accomplishments might be painful for others who are struggling with their careers.

My joy is mine. It’s unrealistic to expect people to pop the champagne when I hit professional milestones.

So this is your reminder to smile more when the people around you are happy. And it’s also a suggestion to tamp it down a little if things are going your way. Others may be struggling.

Oscar Wilde is a smart guy. He said, “Ultimately the bond of all companionship, whether in marriage or in friendship, is conversation.”

I think that’s true, but a conversation shouldn’t just represent an opportunity to talk about yourself and your professional standing — good or bad. It should be about listening, and maybe talking about ideas and feelings instead of just ticking off a list about what’s happening in your life.

Learn from my mistakes. Ask questions, listen, and be ready to jump in with a kind word to affirm another person’s success (or encourage someone when she’s down).

And, above all, rejoice and have fun when a celebration is due! There’s never a bad time to have a party and be happy.

PS – I launched GlitchPath last night. A website isn’t a company, but it’s the first step telling people that I have a product and I’m it to market. I’m happy about that.

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I believe that a body in motion stays in motion.

Unfortunately, I believe this is true for other people. Me? I’m a person who doesn’t remain on the move naturally. I have to fight like hell to run, exercise, and do whatever it takes to balance my natural inclination to binge eat potato chips for breakfast.

Since I have to exercise, everybody should benefit from my efforts. Let me tell you about some fitness classes, and you can skip anything that doesn’t sound fun.

Pro-tip: much of this isn’t fun.

Pilates

I’ve been doing Pilates for over six years. It’s fun, and I always learn something new. You don’t burn a ton of calories, but you burn more than in yoga. If you want to try Pilates, heed my advice: don’t do a DVD. That’s the hardest way to start because your form is wrong, you incorrectly use your body weight, and you miss out on the equipment — the best part. Go find a level-one Pilates class and tell the instructor, “I have no idea what I’m doing.”

Pro-tip: Pilates is all about alignment and breathing and using your core. Even though you might not love your body or your curves, you should wear clothes that will allow your instructor to see your posture and your tummy. Trust me, nobody is judging you.

Yoga

I can’t sit criss-cross applesauce because my hips are too tight. I’ve learned that a good yoga class will help me breathe and relieve tension in the places that bother me the most. I’m not getting ripped and building muscle, but I can’t blame yoga. My potato chip diet doesn’t help. I always ignore the spiritual teachings because nobody is gaining enlightenment at 6:30 PM on a Tuesday night in Durham, NC. And I stick with the gentle and restorative yoga classes that allow for a little more 1:1 time with the instructor.

Pro-tip: Don’t eat a heavy meal before class. It’s hard to move freely and comfortably when your belly is full. Or maybe that’s just me.

Spinning

Do you like loud music and people yelling at you? If you do, spinning is for you. My favorite spin class is hosted by SoulCycle. You don’t need much to start. You rent bike shoes, show up looking like a shlub, and the instructor shouts at you like Billy Eichner and tells you that you’re gorgeous and fabulous. Honestly, it’s the best. We don’t have SoulCycle in Raleigh, but we have a FlyWheel. It’s not the same. It’s less inspirational and more process-focused, which means that the instructor is constantly talking about torque and RPMs and a bunch of stuff that gets me out of the zone. But I burn 500 calories in a spin class, so it’s worth the hassle.

Pro-tip: Spin clubs are popping up all over America. Never pay for the first class if you can avoid it. Don’t buy a fancy heart rate monitor, either. And get used to the hard seats — that’s the fun of walking side-to-side!

High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)

If you enjoy the feeling of a heart attack while burning about 500 calories a class, let me recommend high-intensity interval training. Every HIIT studio has a unique take on the process, but all classes will make you sweat. Some studios have treadmills and rowing machines. Others add weights and TRX stations. The goal is to do a lot of different exercises, and the instructors love to mix it up. Give yourself a couple of sessions before you decide that you hate it.

Pro-tip: I liked Orange Theory in theory, but the franchise is very sales-oriented. They are friendly people, but I just don’t like that aggressive style. Also, the studio is dimly lit with an orange light. I believe in a commitment to the brand, but it’s hard to see where you’re walking on the equipment floor!

Boxing

Finally, let’s wrap up with boxing. I’ve taken quite a few lessons, and the thing about boxing is that you’ll suck for a long time before you’re any good. Boxing burns calories, sure, but most people have bad form. And holding up your arms and dancing around a punching bag isn’t realistic unless you do cardio and weights, too.

Pro-tip: Try a boxing class for free before you buy a membership. Also, think about paying for a private session to learn about the correct boxing techniques.

Most exercise isn’t fun, but I hope my experiences help you figure out whether or not a certain activity is right for you. Personally, my preferred form of exercise is still running. I’m not very fast — and it’s hard for me to get out of my head — but nobody is talking to me or trying to sell me anything.

Hassle-free exercise? That’s all I want!

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For years, I’ve been telling my readers that HR sits at the intersection of work, power, politics and money.

You can be a traffic cop who is proud of how she directs the flow of cars and pedestrians, or you can be an urban planner who impacts the strategic direction of the traffic.

Most HR professionals feel they can make a difference by doing the work of the traffic cop. They do their best work when their boots are on the ground. They’re preventing accidents, guiding pedestrians across busy intersections, and smiling at the random passersby who waves as she’s on her way to work.

(The smile is recognition enough for their hard work.)

I think HR professionals should be like the urban planners. Thinking about traffic and growth patterns that affect today’s commuters, tomorrow’s passengers, and those who will use the roads in the distant future.

And, for what it’s worth, urban planners think beyond highways. They’re concerned with infrastructure, usability, and the environmental toll on the foundation of major cities. They’re aware of the changing demographics of the community, as well.

It’s great to be a do-er who jumps into traffic and proves she can handle the pressure of a busy intersection. But I think there’s something to be said for quiet, steady, strategic thinking that sets a course of action for the enterprise that’s inclusive, productive and profitable.

So, my dear friends in HR, stop being a traffic cop. Let people police themselves, as scary and as dangerous as that sounds. If you do your job right, the role of HR urban planner creates a safe and fruitful workforce in the present day and the future.

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