Posts by: Laurie Ruettimann


The other morning, I watched middle-school boys march to school.

They were a loud gaggle of arms and legs and energy moving on impulse and swinging backpacks and books by their fingertips. These boys laughed and screamed and slammed themselves into one another like waves in the ocean as if their bodies existed only to express temporary impulses and actions.

I felt for those boys. Today, it’s homework and video games and YouTube clips. It’s gym class and sports heroes and eating the sourest gummy candy you can find. In less than a few years, it will be a full onslaught of human sexuality that’s confusing, shameful, and curated by adults who don’t know what the hell they are doing.

It will fuck up these boys hard.

As I watched, I thought of my role in the #MeToo movement. I’ve been quoted in the media on workplace harassment, and I appreciate the opportunity to discuss how the workforce fails women and PoC. While my professional opinion is limited to the workforce, I see the #MeToo movement as an example of how we fail to teach kids, and, further, young boys, about the privileges and responsibilities of human sexuality and power.

If we teach them anything at all, it’s an old curriculum based on biology and moral values that aren’t universal. We don’t explain and show emotion, empathy, and kindness to other living beings. It’s procreation and guilt, with sneaky access to internet porn on the side. Then we throw these kids to the wolves — schools, churches, work environments that still run in misogynistic and racist ways — and expect them to figure it out for themselves.

What’s missing from these kids’ lives is an ongoing conversation about the complexities of society and human identity. What’s missing is a coach and a mentor who’s available to offer loving, gentle, non-judgmental advice. What’s missing is someone who gives a shit about character and invests in us in the long term.

Adults are missing this guidance, too.

The current discussion of #MeToo encapsulates many essential issues like sexual harassment, workplace harassment, sexual assault, and violence. We have so many problems that need our attention, and it’s the first time we’ve had “the internet” for the articulation of stories, opinions, and ideas.

How can you not support this outpouring of expression?

But the #MeToo conversation online is often incomplete, fractured, and takes place behind masks and aliases. Then, when the discussion feeds into our real lives, it’s nothing more than an insufficient antidote to the toxic environment in which many of us live and work.

I love that the #MeToo movement has become a lightning rod for real debate about a series of issues. It’s vital to talk about what’s next and creating action plans that protect people from abuse and violence. But the #MeToo movement is only the first step in ending issues such as workplace harassment, rape, and abuse. And it’s too small of a label for individual problems that, themselves, deserve campaigns and hashtags.

When I looked at those young boys walking to school, I felt for them. There’s no end date for the #MeToo movement. As these kids grow into adolescence and adulthood, many of us will still be online — telling our truths and sharing our stories — while these kids struggle to make sense of it all.

As leaders, we need to get clearer on what we’re talking about and how to fix. Sexual harassment, domestic violence, pay inequality, lousy sex, regret, abuse, and assault are connected by a loose thread of powerful people who lack empathy and think it’s okay to put their needs in front of others. And that loose thread won’t be cut online.

We need national and local leaders with excellent communication skills to lead us through this nuanced discussion of human psychology and sexuality. Women and people of color need truth and reconciliation committees, support groups and programs that aid in healing and repairing our workplaces and our lives. And we need compassion for ourselves and one another as our friends and colleagues come to understand their past behaviors in a new light.

Those of us in leadership roles need to step up and help organize these serious discussions. We need to move the discussion from Twitter and Facebook to real-life action plans in households, schools, and work environments. And we need to pick up the pace.

The #MeToo movement is a start. But it’s time to think about what’s next. If you’re reading my blog, you’re the person to do it. We need you to craft plans for future generations of girls and people of color who deserve to find passion and meaning in their lives. We need you to be the change and implement the change. Most of all, we need you to get moving.

And we really need it for boys, too.


Three years ago, a colleague of mine told me that my internet headshots made me look amateurish and angry. He said — It’s nice that your husband is a photographer, but you literally need to step up your game and invest a few bucks in a professional photo.

I’m like, what are you talking about? I look fun and young.

Truth is, I needed a professional protrait. My friend Ginny had her photo taken by a local Raleigh portrait photographer named Kathy Howard.

As all good stories go, Kathy Howard changed my life.

I showed up at the portrait studio in Raleigh for a meeting and learned that photography is Kathy’s second career. She is following her passion and has a sense of purpose about her business. Kathy introduced me to her make-up artist, Joanne Maye, and we went over the basics of the shoot — favorable angles, how to prep, how to smile. We also picked out my outfits and talked about my style, which is yoga-pants-meets-cat-hair.

This was 2015, and here are a few of the results compressed into tiny photos:

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The photoshoot was laidback and fun. During the course of the day, I learned so much about Joanne and Kathy. They are now legitimate friends and fellow #girlboss partners-in-crime. They are truly amazing.

Last year, I needed a photo refresher. I just wanted a headshot but Kathy was adamant about taking a bunch of fun photos. How could I say no? I was so comfortable with Kathy and Joanne that I basically told them both — I’ll wear whatever you put on my body, and you can do whatever you want with my hair and make-up.

Here are some of the results, also compressed:

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Go to Kathy’s site and you’ll see me in full-resolution on her contact form. Not bad for a middle-aged lady!

Not everybody needs a photoshoot, but I can 100% guarantee that you need a new headshot. Save some cash and invest in a new portrait that captures your internal spirit and external beauty. Why do you need a new portrait? For starters, you could use an upgrade on your LinkedIn profile. Also, it’s fun to look good and feel good.

So, have a look at Kathy’s website and get inspired. Google your local portrait photographers and see if they offer social media packages. Or come hang out in Raleigh with me and Kathy. But you can’t use Joanne for make-up, though. She’s changed her life to become a financial advisor!

I love having women in my network who are smart, fun and committed to lifelong learning and self-improvement. Such a good outcome from simply having my portrait taken!


We’re about halfway through January. Will you meet your reading goal and finish one book each month?

Right now, there’s a team of people working hard to build because I think you can read 12 books each year. We are trying to help HR professionals work to the top of their license. Books are a great place to start.

I know you’re consuming content all day long. You read my blog, your smartphone, and Buzzfeed. If you aren’t reading books, you are missing out. You don’t have to read boring HR books or management guides. The #HRBookClub is recommending two options each month based on a theme. This month’s theme is “wellness,” and we picked books by Brené Brown and Dan Harris. Don’t like those books? Read something else. Just read something.

There’s no official club to join although you can sign up for our newsletter here. No money that you need to spend. Get a library card, visit a used bookstore, or download a cheap e-book. Accept the challenge and read twelve books in 2018. Then join me on 1/31 on Facebook Live (and we’ll tell you more about that later) to talk about the monthly books.

It’s just that easy.

Leaders are readers. Now, more than ever, we need you to lead in the world of HR. Join the #HRBookClub, and we’ll see you online soon!


I’m writing this note to inform you that the Workplace Harassment Summit was canceled because we got him. That one guy who was making your job a nightmare? It’s over for him thanks to the #MeToo movement, so there’s no need for me to do a talk in New York City on January 29th.

we got him

Okay, wait, that’s not true, mostly because that guy at your office still has a job. The Workplace Harassment Summit was canceled due to slow ticket sales. It sucks because the speakers were talented individuals focused on what’s next in human resources and social justice.

Look at who was speaking:

Chai Feldblum is the current Commissioner of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Have you seen her at other HR events? You should. Ask event planners to book her.

Helene Wasserman is an expert on employment litigation and investigations, and she knows the ins and outs of non-disclosure agreements that are hurting women and PoC.

Carmen Hudson is a champion for the workforce, the best recruiter in America, and helps the most innovative companies find talented people. You might think you’re hiring the best and the brightest, avoiding chumps and troublemakers. Your VP of Talent should talk to Carmen.

Frank Dobbin is a professor at Harvard who is developing an evidence-based approach to diversity management and studies the effects of corporate hiring, promotion, diversity and work-life policies on actual outcomes. When people offer management and leadership advice, nobody asks for evidence. Start by reading Professor Dobbin’s work.

Emily Martin is the General Counsel and VP for Workplace Justice at the National Women’s Law Center. She works to ensure fair treatment and equal opportunity for women at work, with a particular focus on the obstacles that confront women in low-wage jobs and women of color. You’re not considered the best place to work if you’re not addressing the needs of everyone in your workplace, including women of color.

Finally, then there was Gretchen Carlson and me. Gretchen, formerly of FOX News and now lobbying politicians in Washington. Me, appearing in mainstream print and radio, holding my own as the country’s foremost expert of workforce masturbation.

What a line-up!

I’m super-bummed that this event isn’t moving forward, but I’m also pleased that you’ll have another chance to think about solutions to workforce harassment. There’s another conference called WorkHuman. Tons of useful content, for sure, with a dedicated #MeToo panel hosted by Adam Grant with Tarana Burke and Ashley Judd. I have a discount code for you: WH18INF-LHA.

The #MeToo movement is morphing into a #TimesUp movement, but no hashtag will solve systemic sexism and racism at work. It’s up to you, which is why I hope to see you at WorkHuman in Austin!


I am doing 2018 differently.

This year, I knocked out all three annual cat exam visits in January. Over the past ten days, I hauled each of my girls to the office and went through the checklist of shit that might be wrong.

They’re all in exceptional health. Roxy is a terrorist kitten. Molly lost a little weight but is otherwise healthy. Emma has some chin acne and needs a dental. It’s the first patch in a very long time where nobody is super-old, and my biggest concern is about how my cats look.

So, how do they look?

They’re adorable, of course. Look at my social feed where you’ll see that my cats are cute and full of personality. They’re all talkers, and they don’t just sit in the basement and scowl. I have three chatty little sisters who keep me company all day long.

But I found myself asking the weirdest questions at the vet. Does Emma’s fur seem a little yellow to you? Does Roxy look as smooth and glossy as she could be? I know Molly has allergies, but can we make her eyes a little brighter?

I realized, oh my god, I’m trying to get Instagram cats. Seriously, I’m trying to apply real-life filters to my cats so that mom can rake up the “likes.” In my head, I’m trying to make them accidentally famous. Do people do this with their kids? Critique appearances, pose them and apply filters?

Goddamn, the internet is awful. Then, when I turned my gaze on myself, I realize that I’ve been googling Eyelid Thermage on a regular basis because my birthday is taking a mental toll on me and my allergy-sensitive eyes are tired and crepey. I’ve been looking for a non-surgical way to enhance my appearance, and this is on my list because I’m insane.

I’m fine. My cats are fine. The internet is toxic. Nobody cares about my wrinkly eyes.

Knocking out the annual cat visits in combination with my birthday reminded me that we’re all getting old, but it’s also an opportunity to reframe the story that we are all healthy and still together. Molly and Emma have been with me since I lived in Michigan for a few years. Roxy is icing on the cupcake of my family. Sure, we’re older. But we are better for it. Bonded to our morning routine of boo-boo-kitty crunchies and afternoon noshes.

Instead of looking at the mirror of my social media accounts, I need to pay more attention to what’s happening in real life. Molly with the crusty gunk, Emma with the chin acne, Roxy with the crazy zoomies, and me with my tired eyes.

We’re unstoppable.


The world’s smartest women offer some career advice for 2018. It goes like this: Be your authentic self. Confidence is key. Be open to opportunities. Surround yourself with good people. Find the right balance for you.

I love all of these women, but this list is recycled garbage. Everybody knows that you can’t be your authentic self at work. Most of us would get fired or spend all of our time engaged in petty conflict. And it’s okay to be confident, but you’re not that great. Tough to be sure of yourself when you have personal work to do.

I’m also not a fan of telling women to surround themselves with good people. I mean, yes, create a personal board of directors and load it up with excellent advisors. But you don’t control your work environment; you only control your reaction to it. Maybe not even that.

Finally, there’s a special place in hell for people who aren’t Madeleine Albright and tell people there’s a special place in hell. But, there’s another special place in hell for women who tell other women to find balance. Okay, sure, I’ll find the right balance just as soon as a board of directors appoints me CEO and my choices are better. Let’s not pretend that 98% of working men and women have options.

So, what’s the best career advice for women in 2018?

Don’t take career advice. Let’s end that sentence there. Advice is a form of nostalgia that has nothing to do with you and everything to do with the speaker. If you need clarity in your life, seek guidance or coaching from someone who isn’t building a personal brand.

Competence is key. If you’re good at what you do, which means doing your job + building relationships at work, you’re unstoppable. In fact, the order is flipped. It’s build relationships + be good at what you do.

Be safe. Lots of women spend too long in a job that starts out dodgy and grows riskier and riskier by the year. Now is the time to end this bullshit. We’re at record unemployment until the president ruins it, and everybody is hiring. If you’re in an unsafe working environment, this stops now. Contact me. I’ll help.

Finally, if you don’t have balance in your life, take it back however you can. Learn the art of saying no a little more. Take a lunchtime nap in your car. Learn to breathe. Play the long game and realize that this busy time in your life is temporary and start planning for the day when you have five minutes to poop in private. Or, just be honest with yourself. That’s always a smart place to start. You have no balance. Life is out of control. Now find a professional to help get some balance back.

My best advice for 2018? The people closest to a problem are the ones equipped to solve it. You don’t need internet advice to fix your career. You just need some space and time to think about your core values, your personal goals, and how you get from here to there. But if you’re looking for internet advice, I have one more gem for you:

I believe that a job is just a job. The only meaning it has is the meaning you give it. Let go of your ego, get a hobby, and your life might be a little less stressful and a lot more enjoyable in the new year.

Hope that helps!


If you listen carefully, every news story is an HR story.

Currently, business journalists are excited about the race to be the first $1 trillion company. The front-runners are Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google. Some would throw Microsoft and Tesla in the mix. It’s probably going to be Apple, but Amazon is in the running because they are killing it with Alexa and the distribution of physical goods around America.

(Amazon owns the last mile to your doorstep through the use of everything from drones to contractors to part-time working moms. That’s a huge advantage over its rivals.)

I just wonder — who the hell is going to buy anything?

There’s been a decimation of middle-class jobs in America in every industry from pharma to retail. The workforce is aging, but older workers face obscene barriers to employment. More and more of us are in the gig economy, which means we pay a more substantial portion of everything from office supplies to mobile phones to health insurance. And younger workers have burdensome student loans to pay off.

When Google merges with Walmart and Amazon buys Target, we might have better prices and instant access to goods and services, but who’s still shopping? When Alexa wants to reorder diapers without approval, and Google Home wants consumers to buy things they don’t need, where does that discretionary income come from? When the only real way to build wealth is to stop spending money, but our society is created and ruled by consumer giants, how do I participate in this civilization without going bankrupt?

Personally, I’m with Elon Musk. I believe in basic income. Pay people a basic wage that recognizes their past contributions to the overall knowledge economy. Make sure everybody has a decent standard of living regardless of race, religion or previous criminal convictions. It’s not welfare or reparations, but a shared understanding that our data and privacy have been mined and leveraged to build this new world of Apple-icious and Amazonian wealth. Everybody deserves compensation for our time and attention online.

HR professionals have a huge role to play in the future of work. You’ll need to rethink “vocation” and “compensation” by applying your industry knowledge to a new structure of employment. You already know how to incentivize workers and create optimized teams. If people want to earn more money beyond basic income, you could help to build functioning systems to educate and retrain the workforce.

As companies rush towards a $1-trillion-dollar-market-cap, there’s a profound need for HR professionals to be in leadership roles and draw a link between the consumer and the worker. (Spoiler alert: They’re both the same.) If we want a future society where there’s a big class of people who can buy stuff, we have to include those buyers in the build.

For me, that’s the future of HR. I hope you have a role somewhere in that conversation in 2018 and beyond.


Hello, everybody. Today is my birthday. I’m 43. That’s about six in dog years.

(No, wait, it might be 200. Do you multiply or divide?)

I woke up this morning and wanted to turn my blog into a fundraising vehicle for Hustle Up the Hancock, but then I remembered that most of you have already donated and expressed your support for my sixth hike up that skyscraper.

If you recall, I hustle up 94 flights of stairs to fight lung disease and support smoking cessation programs in memory of a classmate’s mom who died of lung cancer when I was just a child. I also hustle for my friend Jenny who died two years ago from lung cancer. And I do this because my sister can’t quit smoking, although she’s ready to try.

(Maybe I can finally quit running up this goddamn building, Carolyn. It’s cold in February, and I’m not getting any younger.)

I was planning on writing a long blog post about cancer and lung disease, but then I realized that I haven’t thanked the awesome women who are joining me on our team. Normally I run up this building alone. Last year, Dominique joined me. This year, she’s returning as a team captain and roped Mary and Shauna into hustling up the Hancock. After the Hustle, we’re having brunch at the Little Goat Diner where the team can have the Fat Elvis Waffles.

So, thanks to the awesome women who are hustling up that building with me. And thanks to everybody who has donated to our cause. If you have some loose change, one of those awesome women would appreciate a donation. And, as always, you’re welcome to join us in 2019.

That’s right, I plan on running unless my sister stops smoking. Then, I’ll just be a cheerleader and/or rope her into doing this crazy event with us! Stay tuned, and thanks.


Hello, everybody. Hope your new year is off to a good start.

My first five days of 2018 have been a joke. It’s snowing and extraordinarily chilly in Raleigh, which is uncommon. I’ve had a cold for nine days which has me talking like Jacob Silj, and now I have a stye in my eye that I’m slathering with erythromycin because I’m sexy. We had a leaky pipe that destroyed our family room right before the new year. My husband’s car broke down last night in this frigid weather. And my mom is sick, which is always super fun.

So, that’s a lot of bad news, except I’m feeling mostly okay. Not too agitated or anxious. Laughing a lot about our “good luck” with my husband. Not going to hit anyone with a baseball bat. Not anybody who doesn’t deserve it, anyway.

In this middle of all this chaos, there’s calm. I’ve been exercising as much as possible since before the new year. I’ve stopped watching the news on TV, which that makes me feel better. I’m reconnecting with old colleagues and having a lot of good luck with my professional life. And I’m still practicing mindfulness and incorporating all the good stuff I learned from my MBSR coursework at Duke, last year.

TL;DR I’m breathing and practicing mindfulness. Like, even with my obstructed airways, I still take five minutes each day and focus on my breath.

Mindfulness doesn’t come naturally to me because it doesn’t come naturally to anybody. Our brains still act as if we live in caves, and the mind interprets our 21st-century problems as imminent death threats. Sally in procurement isn’t trying to kill you with her bullshit, but it sure feels that way. And all systems in your body are fighting unnecessarily hard to keep you alive in this doomsday scenario.

I picked up mindfulness like most people: when I was desperate and tried just about everything else. I’m not the kind of person who can pick up a book or listen to a tape and change my life. I needed to hit my emotional rock bottom, and then I needed to try something new. Someone mentioned mindfulness, aka MBSR coursework, to me in passing a few years ago. My brain stored that information, and, when I needed it, revealed a path to me. Meditation has changed my life.

So, I picked Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics as the second choice of the #HRBookClub in January because I think mindfulness and meditation can change your life. Will you become a meditation expert from reading a book? Heck no, and the book makes no promises of spiritual enlightenment. In fact, it demonstrates how hard it is to meditate in our noisy world.

But, thankfully, the book takes the reader through real-world scenarios where it is possible to breathe — even if it’s just ten good breaths — and calm your central nervous system down.

I hope you read Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics. I hope you find a mindfulness instructor or a meditation class. But, I mostly hope you file this book and blog post away for another time when you’re feeling desperate and need a new option in your life. Self-care isn’t just about massages and colon hydrotherapy, because, if it were, nobody would ever heal. Wellness is about building a better foundation to help you endure, and, potentially, enjoy life.

Why not now? Why not you?

Hope you enjoy the book.


I have a lot of firsts in my life. I’m the first in my family to finish college. The first to have a corporate job, travel abroad and see the world. Early to a world with a social footprint and a public life.

Also, I was early in my career. Learned about the cloud and consumerism through my early work at Alberto-Culver. (Walmart has been doing cool things with its vendors for over twenty years, and we’re now just hearing about it.) I also learned how mobile devices would change B2B e-commerce (and insurance) when I worked with a mergers & acquisitions group at Kemper Insurance. And I saw firsthand the impact of automation and the internet of things (IoT) on manufacturing and R&D when I worked for Pfizer.

Back in the day, those experiences made me ask a lot of questions about how we treat people. It was clear that HR was in the business of supporting leadership decisions and protecting the company from risk. People are inherently risky — a line-item on a budget that impact shareholder value — and my job in HR started with risk-management and ended with compliance. Have a heart, smile, listen. But never forget your role.

It’s tough to be first, which is why I left HR and fell into blogging and social media. Unfortunately, having been writing online since 2004, I was also early to the emerging field of digital communications. When I tried to tell my friends and former colleagues in HR and marketing about the benefits of “social networking,” they laughed at me.

Once, I was booed for speaking about the benefits of Twitter and Facebook. Now, these same people can’t look up from their phones and use Twitter to trash-talk me. Hard to feel sorry for people who currently don’t realize that mobile devices are hijacking their brains.

Being early, and, also, different, is one of my greatest strengths. It’s also incredibly lonely. People are unkind to new and unfamiliar ideas. When they finally adopt your early ideas, nobody says thank you. It’s like being roadkill. Sure, you’re there first. Now get out of the way, or we’ll run you over.

So, that’s all depressing, except that I just finished Brené Brown’s new book and felt better about being early and being alone. She describes this place as “the wilderness,” and you can brave it — and even enjoy it — by having a curious mind and a solid relationship with your values.

Can you lean into criticism while having faith in your beliefs? Is it possible for you to endure judgment while having compassion for people who don’t see things your way? Will you demonstrate empathy for other people who are in the wilderness and understand things you don’t yet see?

Brené’s book was useful in helping me recognize my place — and putting me in my place — about life, my values, and my role in going first. That’s why I hope you pick up the book and join us for #HRBookClub. Later this month, we’ll discuss Braving the Wilderness. Brené will also appear at WorkHuman, a conference that I’m attending, and I can’t wait to hear her keynote session.

Enjoy the book, leave a comment if you’ve already finished it, and let me know what you think of this month’s first selection!

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