Posts by: Laurie Ruettimann


I think internet holidays like “National Mental Health Day” are essential, but I want to celebrate the day after National Mental Health Day because it’s in the quiet, dark moments — when there’s no fanfare, pageantry or hashtag — when people suffer.

What’s National Mental Health Day All About?

I’m here for memes and tweets and inspirational photos shared by Instagram Growth Services that encourage everybody to seek help and live their fullest lives. But now what? 

What do we do today, October 11th, when we return to our mobile devices, and the loneliness seeps back into our lives? Where do we go today if we’re feeling disconnected, depressed or, god forbid, suicidal?

Well, maybe we go back to our feeds and take advantage of all the mental health resources that were shared yesterday. Or perhaps we develop courage and reach out to our friends who said, hey, I’m here for you.

But what I fear is that National Mental Health Day is another collective moment where we think we’re helping but we’re not. Like when we put lead in milk and fed it to babies — or when we thought it was okay to cure a cold with cocaine — we’re using a device to address a problem that causes more harm than good.

What’s the Alternative?

I’m not saying a day of awareness is pointless. I’m just saying that maybe we ought to think a little harder about health outcomes before we jump on the internet — a failing social experiment that’s doing us more harm than good — and preach to no one in particular that “you matter” and “you should ask for help.”

Who are you talking to? Who do you think is listening? Aren’t you just talking to the vast tundra of your subconscious?

In answering those questions — and also reviewing your old Facebook posts, gaming history, YouTube posts, tweets, IG stories, snaps, WhatsApp messages, or even your old AOL history — you might find you’re talking to yourself about your well-being and asking for help while trying to help others.

How Do I Commit to Improved Mental Health?

So, if you are committed to National Mental Health Day, make it count. Put yourself first, take control of your time, and be your own best advocate. Stop talking to no one in particular on the internet and see a counselor, therapist, advisor, mentor, psychiatrist, or social worker. If you feel fine, great. Be a friend to someone in the real world who needs you.

Mental health improves and lives are saved because awareness turns to action. If you believe in National Mental Health Day, make every day — including the day after — a moment where you take a stand against the detachment and isolation that’s crept into our culture. And I think it starts by putting down your phone.


Several years ago, I was at a party where a drunk man fell into my breasts. 

(Wait, let me back up and start this again.)

Several years ago, I was at an HR conference looking pretty fly for a woman in her late 30s. As a marathoner and a pilates enthusiast, I was training for a series of important events. Not only could I lift my weight and run over 20 miles with little notice, but I could also do pull-ups and push-ups for days. I was solid.

So, I was seated in a chair around a tiny table at a hotel lounge with several HR girlfriends when a lecherous dude came up from behind to “whisper in my ear” and say hello.

Has that happened to you? Some dude thinks it’s okay to invade your personal space and surprise you?

As I turned my head to figure out who’s crept up behind me, my hair got caught in this drunk HR dude’s tiepin. As I tried to untangle myself from his shirt, his face went into my breasts. Even though I’m strong, I struggled to push him off. His drink spilled on my dress.

The surrounding women gasped. And he laughed. A lot. And he never apologized. Tried to “talk it off” and pretend as if nothing happened with his eyes locked right on my breasts. It was so gross. What could I do? I was really embarrassed, but the damage was done.

Later that night, his only female coworker pulled me aside by an elevator and “apolo-splains” that he’s been drinking — they’ve all been drinking — and it was just an accident. 

Sure, it was an accident. I was there, I know what happened. I didn’t make a big deal out of what happened but said, “It’s not your job to apologize for his behavior.”

But, a few months later, I was banned from doing work at his organization. Blackballed out of nowhere because my brand contradicts his organization’s values. The message to vendors and partners was clear: companies who do business with both of us must choose because they can’t do business with his organization if they attach my name.

And I’m like — is this happening?

You bet it fucking did.

Now, maybe the two things aren’t connected, him falling into my boobs and me being blackballed. But that’s the thing about being a victim of aggressive male behavior, there is no explanation. None of it makes sense. All of it is punitive. And I’ve lost thousands of dollars in opportunities since that night because I didn’t just laugh it off and go with the flow.

Am I bitter? Yes and no. It’s been a while. Whenever I think about it, which isn’t often, I just pray for him in my atheist way and hope he doesn’t act like that with other women. What else can I do? That money is gone, and my name was sullied. Can I get a lawyer? Who do I sue? The patriarchy?

That’s the thing about being a woman, you learn to let this shit go.

But there’s a postscript to this anecdote. Eventually, the drunk HR dude left his job. You know where he went to work? The Trump administration. Of course he did. And it’s not like anybody called me and asked for a reference. No background check dug deep enough to find out if this little HR man was a vindictive, petty jerk.

So, here’s what I want you to know: I speak from a place of truth when I tell you that existing HR teams and associations can’t solve the problem of sexual harassment at work because they are the problem. They’ve been perpetuating and defending toxic workplaces from the start. These HR men who want to improve your company’s culture and fix work? They are jokesters and frauds, part of the same cultural phenomenon that created hostile work environments.

To fix work, all areas of HR must reflect upon on its complicity and acknowledge its level of guilt. Is that possible? Can HR departments and associations change? Sure, but I won’t hold my breath. When push comes to shove, one of the most influential HR professionals in the country was complicit in a campaign to stop me from earning a living after he fell into my breasts at an industry event. Nobody from his former company — not even the people who saw what happened — said a word.

Then he got a job in the Trump administration.

If that’s how HR works, you can count me out. I’m here for a new HR, but what’s being sold to us by hegemonic corporate interests isn’t it.


Do you know the difference between wellness and wellbeing?

Wellness refers to physical health. When your employer talks about wellness, they want you to quit smoking and lose weight to bring down health insurance costs. You know what brings down health insurance costs? Better regulation of health insurance companies and medical providers. But, no, you have to lose five pounds and give up donuts. That’s wellness.

Wellbeing is more holistic and is used to talk about life experiences and feelings. Employers bucket wellbeing into three different categories: physical, emotional, and financial. Your company still wants to lower costs, but there’s a move to cost-per-employee as well as revenue-per-employee to engagement scores.

If you’re happy in those three buckets — and making “good choices” as defined by industry experts who understand healthy outcomes — you’ll make your company more money. If you’re not satisfied with life, your employer won’t be as profitable.

So, how do companies measure things like happiness and engagement?

Well, some employers partner with solution providers to send out surveys and then respond to the data. It’s programmatic and sometimes assumes the outcomes, or, at the very least, has a list of solutions for different scenarios.

Other employers will hire technology companies and look at your calendar — yes, your daily schedule — and try to understand what you’re doing with your day. Then they’ll swoop in with personalized recommendations on meeting with your manager more, finding a mentor, asking for feedback from your colleagues, getting more exercise, doing more meditation, taking a digital detox, or even recommendations for PTO.

And still other employers will use wearables like your badge to see if you’re stationary or getting up and moving around during the day. Google pioneered this with their cafeterias. They would monitor who was eating where, and they’d open and close lunch stations to encourage connectivity between different groups of workers. Wearables help employers monitor physical activity in a bunch of new ways. Now, your company wants you to get up and move around because sitting is the new smoking.

So, I’m here to postulate a new theory about wellness and wellbeing. The difference between the two is how the two are measured. Wellness is self-reported, and wellbeing is surveilled and diagnosed.

Employers are over employee engagement surveys and wellness programs because those are reactionary and, honestly, a lagging indicator of an organization’s wellbeing. They want to surveil you, diagnose you, and treat you before you even know what’s wrong. We live in a world of cameras, sensors, and data tracking tools. Pull everything together, and you get a predictive picture of what’s going right — and what could go wrong — with the biggest line-item expense in your budget.

Welcome to the era of employee wellbeing. Your company loves you and cares about you. And they’re watching your every move to prove it.


How do you future-proof your business or career? Are robots taking over all our jobs? On the show today is Alexandra Levit, an author, speaker, influencer, and futurist. Alexandra helps us understand how leaders and employees can prepare to become more successful in 5-15 years time. Will you be in on the next big trend? Alexandra believes the future will be a project-based business.

Who is Alexandra Levit? She started her corporate journey back in 1998. She wrote a book called, “They Don’t Teach Corporate in College,” and taught young professionals how to succeed in Corporate America. That was when she realized how Human Resources would have a much more strategic function in the 21st century.

As a futurist, Alexandra analyzes and makes predictions on how businesses can be successful 5-15 years into the future. The goal is to prepare these companies and their employees for better, more meaningful careers in the future workplace.

  • Alexandra wrote, “Humanity Works: Merging Technologies and People for the Workforce of the Future.”She discusses how people shouldn’t be fearful of the future of work. According to Alexandra, there’s going to be a lot more meaningful work opportunities for people, and that’s something to look forward to. We also have to embrace how some aspects of our jobs will become automated because it’s a GOOD thing. When robots do the boring work, we’ll be able to focus more on functions that rely on the human touch – like empathy and intuition.

    In terms of fixing work, Alexandra believes that there’s a need to set boundaries for personal and professional life. Technology has allowed us to be “on” 24/7. It lets us connect 24/7, but it also makes us think about work 24/7. We check our phones for emails and get more work done because it’s great to be productive, but this is also the fastest way to get burned out. Instead of trying to outwork technology, we should focus our efforts on cultivating skills that match tasks reliant on human intelligence – leave the repetitive stuff to the machines.

    You might need a mind shift when it comes to starting your career if you want to make sure you are future-proofed. Ask yourself: “What are customers asking for that I can become an expert in and deliver consistently?” Let the answer be your guide. Another cause for concern is how the project-based workforce still has corporate-driven benefits. Alexandra talks about the tension this topic stirs and how corporate structure must change in order for it to stay relevant in the market.

    Futurists are thought leaders that make predictions based on current trends. Their forward thinking is invaluable for employers and employees because they can strategize ahead of time. Doesn’t it sound like a good idea to create systems to make the transition as smooth as possible? Change is coming whether we like it or not, we might as well be ready for it.

    FREE Financial Wellness Telesummit

    Make plans to attend the free Financial Wellness Telesummit, where HR Pros will discover how to alleviate the negative effects of financial stress on employees and businesses. Learn how to develop benefits, address employee concerns, and how to recruit top talent. It’s coming up October 16-18. Register for this FREE event today!

    Alexandra Levit




    Humanity Works

    They Don’t Teach Corporate in College

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    Employees aren’t that complicated. If they’re happy, they stay. If they’re unhappy, they leave. When women and minorities are leaving Corporate America in droves, the problem is obvious: these underrepresented groups aren’t happy. What’s causing the mass exodus and what, if anything, are we doing about it? Jose Pinero, the CEO of Latino Leadership Performance, talks about the importance of understanding and implementing cultural visibility, as well as how inclusion and diversity strategies boost workforce productivity and engagement.

    • Jose Pinero is a Fortune 100 business coach, speaker, and author. With over 20 years of corporate experience, Jose has seen the disparity within the ranks of organizations. Women and minorities aren’t able to climb the corporate ladder, something he’s seen again and again. Jose has made it his mission to empower these groups of people, to help them become successful leaders, and to improve visibility, inclusion, and diversity in corporate hierarchy.
    • What is Jose’s take on work being broken? He starts by saying how everyone wants the same thing: to live fulfilling lives. But it’s difficult to achieve this if you’re working in an environment that disconnects you from everybody else. Work is broken because organizations have discouraged employees from being their authentic selves. By denying people the right to be themselves, we deny them the opportunity to put in their best effort.
    • In his article, Why are Latinos leaving Corporate America?, Jose shares how it’s not only Latinos who are leaving Corporate America in droves. Women and other minorities are marching out too. There are a variety of factors that force these talents to leave, and some of them might surprise you. The article is a great read and will shed a lot of light on the problem, especially since it’s becoming more difficult for companies to find great talent.

    We got down to the heart of the problem next, and Jose shares three reasons why he believes that minorities and women aren’t happy in Corporate America.

    • Lack of high-level role models. When people don’t see themselves represented within the corporate hierarchy, they end up feeling discouraged. They will question whether the job is a fit for them, and if they’re in the right place to begin with. It’s either, “There’s nobody there that looks like me,” or “There are too few of us who can make it there.”
    • Lack of sponsorship and mentors. The idea of the Lone Champion is a myth. Nobody gets to where they are without any degree of support. Everybody needs somebody to help them understand how things work. How do we expect people to do their best and become better when we don’t give them the opportunity to learn from the best? No one wants to be in an environment where they do not feel supported or valued.
    • Cultural blind spots. People have different communication styles. If we want to bridge the gap in our cultures, we have to be more understanding of how our employees tend to communicate. When managers lack this understanding, the disconnect becomes even greater.
    • Laurie and Jose touch on how multicultural marketing works and how it supports underrepresented communities by getting them involved. They talk about how businesses have the social responsibility to contribute to society. After all, there’s always room to make money AND still make a difference in the world.

    FREE Financial Wellness Telesummit

    Make plans to attend the free Financial Wellness Telesummit, where HR Pros will discover how to alleviate the negative effect of financial stress on employees and business. Learn how to develop benefits, address employee concerns, and how to recruit top talent. It’s coming up October 16-18. Register for this FREE event today!

    Jose Pinero

    Latino Leadership

    The Cultivation Company

    Mucho Success




    Why are Latinos Leaving Corporate America?


    What do you do if you work in HR, but you’re miserable? That’s a question I answer multiple times every week. 

    While I’m not the VP of HR for America’s HR professionals, it sometimes feels that way. Many of you are discontented, sorrowful and suffering. You’re under-appreciated and exhausted. And I wonder — if you feel this way, how do your employees feel? Work sucks for you. How can you make it better for yourself and your colleagues? 

    Well, I think the key to reinvigorating your career is to redefine the paradigm of HR and do human resources for yourself.

    The first new pillar of HR is embracing a healthy dose of risk-taking. A strong HR department encourages entrepreneurship and innovation while managing risk. It’s not about “design thinking” or “risk-based thinking” — although those are fine buzzwords — but it’s as simple as giving yourself and your colleagues the room to try new things and make mistakes. And the first principle of being an entrepreneur and an innovator is simple: you have to try.

    It’s curious how HR leaders are often students of high-performing cultures but still shy away from new ideas in their organizations. These are HR professionals who idolize daring executives but can’t work the “courage muscle” and take a risk. 

    Believe it or not, personal rejection is good for the creative soul. I’m not saying you should get turned down once a day, but you’re not trying hard enough — for yourself and your company — if you don’t hear the word “no” at least once a week.

    If you live and breathe, you learn. That’s why the second pillar of great HR is to create a department that’s obsessed with continuous learning. I’m not referring to programmatic activities that can be documented, measured, tested and incorporated into an employee record management system; however, those are important objectives for some jobs. I’m talking about the learning that comes from being curious, pursuing new ideas to their conclusions, and trying something new and failing.

    So we’re back to the first principle. If you champion and promote risk-taking within HR, you’re modeling a culture of learning for your company. And if you’re learning while working in HR, you won’t be miserable.

    The third pillar is that the modern HR department must be community managers. It means we oversee the terms and conditions in which people interact with one another. We must create a climate of goodwill and support, and we should strive to overcome biases and prejudices across the enterprise. 

    Community managers, unlike HR managers, don’t tolerate racism, sexism, ageism, ableism, xenophobia or indecent language. They’re like the idyllic version of umpires and will call balls and strikes without bias. And they’ll support members of the group who feel disparaged, defamed, or depreciated.

    But to be community managers, HR must be the change we wish to see in the world. You can’t tolerate leaders who are sarcastic, egotistic, hostile, anti-worker, anti-ACA, anti-gay, or even anti-immigration. And it means taking a stand and fighting for your community when your common values are compromised. The good news is that if you defend your community, they’ll have your back when you’re on the ropes. And that’s how you fix work as a whole, by realizing you’re all in it together.

    The fourth pillar of HR is all about the money. We must become compensation stewards and manage the salary practices that go up and down the ladder of power. Unfortunately, many HR professionals don’t make a ton of money, and, on top of it, they don’t have access to discussions where decisions are made about salaries, merit pools, and bonuses. That sucks and is definitely hard on the heart.

    All is not lost, though. You can work on your education, get promoted, and develop your executive influence skills to get into the mix and share your thoughts and affect change. This is a long-term play, but use your career and proximity to power to fix this system. Do it for yourself, and you’ll fix it for others.

    Finally, HR could change the nature of work by being guardians of the overall employee experience. That means putting our well-being first — not as martyrs, but as people with complex lives and families and hobbies and interests — and creating boundaries between work and life.

    Just to clarify, there’s a difference between balance and boundaries. Work-life balance is the lie companies tell you so you’ll take your laptop home with you and multi-task after you feed the kids dinner and turn on the TV. Boundaries are lines you draw so that your family time after dinner isn’t compromised by work.

    Guard your time — have a healthy private life full of movement and joy and laughter and love — and you’ll fix work by prioritizing what’s important and keeping your career in perspective. 

    So, here’s my advice for HR professionals: take a few more risks, focus on learning something new, be a community manager, be a steward of fair compensation practices, and invest in your well-being. If you did those five things in 2019, you’d fix work for yourself and your entire company. And people might love HR, again, including you.


    To be HR, you have to do HR for yourself.

    I will always believe in this principle. It’s so core and critical to my life’s philosophy that, when I wasn’t practicing the programs and policies of HR in my daily experience, I left my job.

    My principle doesn’t just apply to individual practitioners and leaders. It applies to recruiters, sourcers, vendors, and technologists. If you’re not practicing the best principles of human resources in your own life and company, you have no business being in the business of HR.

    The business of human resources if five-fold: we encourage entrepreneurship and innovation while managing risk; we champion and promote continuous learning for the enterprise; we are community managers, which means we oversee the terms and conditions in which people interact with one another; we are compensation stewards and manage the practices that go up and down the ladder of power; and we are wellbeing agents who are guardians of the overall employee experience.

    That’s your new paradigm for HR, by the way, and, while it’s not revolutionary, it starts with making sure that you do HR for you.

    • If you can’t take risks at work or feel like you’re stuck in a dead-end job with little opportunity for growth, you’re not doing HR. You’re wasting your days and the time of other employees around you.

    • If you work in a disrespectful environment where pay equity is a joke and prestige is hoarded at the top — and you’ve tried and failed to make a difference — I’m sorry, but you’re failing in HR.

    • And imagine how your employees feel if you are depleted, exhausted or financially insecure.

    Do you want to be an HR professional? Do you want to sell HR technology? You must do HR for yourself, your team, and the employees around you.

    There is no other way.

    *Tomorrow I’ll write about what to do if you’re not doing HR for yourself.


    If you work in HR and have a Twitter or Facebook account, stop what you’re doing and thank John Jorgensen. He’s the godfather of the modern day HR movement, an early adopter, and someone who deserves your admiration and recognition.

    John was an HR director before the Great Recession. Over the past ten years, he’s weathered the storm by doubling down on his personal development and leveraging his role as a SHRM volunteer to push a new generation of human resources professionals to embrace social media and connectivity.

    Long story short, HR professionals used to hate being on social media. They were hostile to connecting with one another, they made fun of early adopters, and they were hesitant to develop personal brands. John was like — Knock it off. This technology is going to change the world. If I can see the promise, you can come around.

    John was also instrumental in the development of my speaking career. While the world saw me as a snotty blogger, John treated me like a true professional. He invited me to participate in ILSHRM activities and used his reputation to clear a path for me at SHRM National.

    I can’t say enough nice things about John Jorgensen, and, because today is the opening day of SHRM18, it’s also John Jorgensen Day. Activities include being kind to John, thanking him for his volunteerism, and offering to buy him a drink or dinner if you’re in Oakbrook Terrace, IL.

    John Jorgensen makes HR better, and he helped make connecting with other HR professionals easier. He’s not the kind of guy who toots his own horn, but he’s an essential part of the story behind the transformation of human resources.

    I love and appreciate what John has done for our community, and I hope you do, too.

    H A P P Y J O H N J O R G E N S E N D A Y

    Have a great conference, John!


    I just finished an advance reader copy of, “Can You Hear Me: How to Connect with People in a Virtual World.” It’s written by Dr. Nick Morgan of Public Words, a friend and mentor who never steers me wrong.

    Dr. Morgan is an expert on communication and body language, and, in this new book, he tackles the 21st-century challenges of communicating feelings and emotions on mobile and electronic devices.

    Why does email suck so much? Why don’t people understand what I’m trying to say? Why does my Mom feel like she needs a LinkedIn account?

    What’s The Book About?

    The book highlights five fundamental problems with virtual communication at work and in life — from lack of feedback, our societal shortage of empathy, loss of control, limited emotional bandwidth, the trouble with connection and commitment — and offers evidence-based solutions to help us communicate more effectively.

    Grounded in research and neuroscience, Dr. Morgan challenges us to know better and do better. He wants us to communicate more intentionally. Use language to check in with our colleagues and friends to ask how they feel. And, instead of racking up friends and followers, go slower in establishing common ground and trust to build meaningful and lasting relationships.

    How Can This Book Help Me?

    I’m a fast thinker and an aggressive texter. My personality is loud and bombastic. And, boy, I’m a terrible virtual communicator. I found myself taking notes throughout the book. Without the benefit of my smiley face or sweet voice, I now understand why some people may think that I’m more angry or cynical than I am online.

    Dr. Morgan offers multiple suggestions in the book to optimize the way we communicate online. He even suggests we think about why we’re online in the first place. Beyond email etiquette, this book offers practical and timely ways to enhance our personal and professional connections in the virtual world.

    Where Can I Buy This Book?

    You can pre-order a copy of “Can You Hear Me Now” on Amazon, or head over to Dr. Morgan’s website to learn more about the book. If you’re a leader who manages remote teams — or a human being who wants to bridge the digital divide and have more meaningful relationships — this book is a must read for you and your colleagues. I can’t recommend it enough.


    Remember when things were “things” in the HR tech industry?

    Wish I took notes, but there have been technology solutions for just about every trendy HR thing under the sun.

    Not sure I have the order correct, but, back in the day, social media was a thing. Then it was social media marketing. Then it was recruitment marketing, followed by big data. Then employee engagement, wellness, analytics, happiness, culture, and gratitude. Then we moved on to AI and chatbots, with some candidate experience and customer success.

    A few months ago, it was #MeToo, meditation, blockchain, and bias. We had a moment where equal pay was a thing, but like all things related to women and protected minorities, it faded fast. And some people were talking tech stack, onboarding, and D&I all in one sentence.

    But a quick scan of my LinkedIn feed shows that we’re in a lull. There’s nothing new. It’s all of those things plus a shortened workweek and self-care.

    So, I spent some time in Las Vegas, last week, trying to make sense of things that are things. And here’s what I know: If things are truly important, they’ll get a line-item on a budget, and you’ll see them become part of your standard operating procedure.

    What’s important? What things are things in HR and work? What deserves your attention?

    Well, let’s start with Talent Acquisition. This is the stuff that helps you hire people. I think these things are things.

    Recruitment Marketing
    Applicant Tracking
    Employment Branding
    Screening/Background Checking
    Reference Checking/Validation

    What am I missing? And what’s trash?

    Now, let’s move on to Talent Management. This is how you manage the people you’ve hired. Here’s my list of things that are things and not just fads. What else should go on there?

    Compensation Planning
    Performance Management
    Internal Mobility
    Coaching and Mentoring
    Leadership Development
    Learning Platforms
    Rewards & Recognition
    Career Planning

    Whew, that’s a lot of things to be things. I’m not sure micro-learning is a thing, even though it’s a multi-million dollar industry. Can you really learn anything in five minutes? “Oh, but these Gen Z kids like video.” Whatever, man. TBD.

    Then there are things in Workforce Management, which is how you manage your people once they have the job. These things are things, I think. Although maybe I’m wrong.

    Core HR Platforms
    Time & Attendance
    Employee Leave & Absence Management
    Employee Communications
    Organization Chart Software (not PowerPoint)
    Employee Record Management
    Document Flow
    Team Collaboration Tools
    Task Management Tools
    Workforce Planning
    Job Description Compliance Software
    Global Employee Management/VISA
    Employee Surveys
    Alumni Association Platforms
    Corporate Surveillance/Espionage
    Employee Activity Monitoring
    Employee Health Monitoring
    Wellness Programs
    Wellbeing Monitoring
    Threat Assessments

    The part of the industry focused on employee surveillance fascinates me. They can predict suicide attempts as well as whether you’re leaking information to a competitor. And, oh yeah, they can predict when you’ll resign. Crazy stuff.

    As I look at this list of things, I’m shocked by how it takes a village — and a multi-million dollar budget — to make sure you’re managing your people. I’m not sure how small businesses get started, how they grow, and how they’re not eventually bankrupted by all of this tech.

    I wonder what you think about this list. What does it take to do HR? Do you need these technology solutions to manage and lead people? What can stay, what can go? What’s a real thing? What’s a fad?

    I’d love your thoughts.

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