Posts by: Laurie Ruettimann


I only hang out with badass women who ask tough questions about the status quo.

Earlier this week, I talked to Katie Augsburger. Based in Portland, she is a hands-on HR professional with demonstrated success in leadership and employee development, organizational design, change management, strategic planning, compensation and creating performance management programs. Katie is an effective communicator and manager, with a passion for employee engagement and creating a learning environment.

She’s been on my podcast!

Katie wants to increase her keynote speaking opportunities in 2019 but hates the limited mindset that’s found on the conference circuit.

– Why is public speaking so competitive?
– Why is event planning so hard to deconstruct?
– Why is public speaking such a blood sport?

Katie asks great questions because she has an abundance mindset. The term “abundance mindset” was coined by Steven Covey. It’s a concept where a person believes there are enough resources and successes to share with others. A rising tide lifts all boats. Let’s come together and share opportunities, not fight amongst one another.

Unfortunately, public speaking is based on the scarcity mindset.

The scarcity mindset is the belief that there will never be enough — money, food, emotions, sex, or keynote speaking opportunities — and as a result, your actions and thought are aggressive because you fear the lack of future opportunities.

So, there’s tension for speakers like Katie who embrace abundance but want to hustle in a system built on scarcity. How do you operate according to your values but, also, compete and succeed?

Well, I’ve been thinking about Katie’s particular challenges all week. If you believe in abundance, you have to model it. She’ll need to pass on speaking gigs and refer others like crazy and hope that karma pays off.

Additionally, Katie should seek out event organizers who pay all speakers — not just keynoters — and spread the wealth among all workers who contribute to the show’s success.

Finally, if the system is broken, you need a new system. Katie could create her platform and give a voice to others. Test a new model for delivering big ideas where the attendee experience exceeds a traditional conference because it’s a new and different approach to sharing ideas.

In short, Katie has her work cut out for her. I know she’ll figure it out.

In the meantime, I have a recommendation if you’re an event planner or conference organizer: Katie is your woman if you want a badass speaker who has an extensive background in HR and applies systems-thinking to the status quo topic of diversity & inclusion.

What I love about Katie — and women like her — is she can compete with the best of the best while being supportive of her colleagues and peers. What event planner doesn’t want someone like that at their conference?


My buddy Josh Bersin lights the world on fire with his research and insights about the world of work.

Last week, he gave us the 15 coolest perks to hit the office in 2019.

Pawternity sounds cool. Who wouldn’t want a 23-and-me for your dog? Spa services and nap rooms sound trendy and interesting, too. But an employer that pays you fairly and gives you meaningful time off — the kind of space where you’re allowed to untether yourself from mobile devices — doesn’t need to give you free beer and fertility coaching. You could do all of it for yourself.

Do Perks Matter in a Tight Job Market?

People keep telling me that creative perks matter in a tight job market, and I’m not sure they’re wrong. Historically, most jobs suck. Recruiters sell you on a disingenuous employer brand that never fails to disappoint. So, if you have to work, you might as well pick a job that gives you some fun perks on the side.

But I’m not sure we’ve tested the benefits and limitations of perks properly. Why not allow for more self-determination in the benefits selection process? Why not give employees a real option to choose their perks?

Some companies allow employees to choose their benefits from an a la carte menu, but the offerings are pre-determined, tax-friendly to the employer, and based on favorable relationships with vendors. I’m not saying those choices are wrong; however, we live in a world where many professional workers can’t afford a $500 emergency in their lives, and it would be great to offer a stipend and allow your employees the option to choose between an additional retirement contribution, an extra student loan payment, or free beer.

They might not choose what I would want, but it would be a nice experiment to test whether creative perks are a bigger draw to talented workers than ongoing financial security.

Can HR Fix Perks?

Sabbaticals and spa rooms are smashing — and I would die for a massage right about now — but those items are activities, not benefits or even perks.

If HR wants to fix work — and I think they do — they can start by being teachers and advisors. We can create a self-sufficient workforce that makes good decisions about money, savings and retirement. And our primary mode of teaching is through the implementation of policies and programs that prioritize physical, emotional and financial health.

We can make a difference by helping employees choose a lasting financial legacy instead of misapplying those funds to build a nap room.

Again, pawternity tests sound fantastic, but we’re collectively shortchanging an improved version of our future if we don’t grab the $99 bucks that’s being given to the dog DNA vendor for this “benefit” and apply it to a financial program that enhances our lives.

Because if we’re not working to create a better future for ourselves and our families, I don’t know why we’re working at all.


Let’s Fix Work is back for Season 2.

The first episode has Laurie interviewing a returning audience favorite, Áine Cain. Áine is a reporter in the retail section at Business Insider. She covers Walmart, Target, Home Depot, and Lowe’s.

We begin the episode catching up with Áine about her recent trip to Iceland, involving hotdogs, highlands and the famous Blue Lagoon. Laurie asks Áine about the impact of the trends toward online shopping and the current retail situation some have termed the ‘retailpocalypse’. Áine unpacks why some stores are moving towards what they call ‘omnichannel outlets’, in an attempt to become more flexible and pivot to customer’s needs.

The next segment starts with a discussion about Amazon’s recent pay debacle and their ‘gig economy’, which leads to some exploration of working conditions at larger companies. Laurie poses the question “is there still room in the market for boutique outlets?” and casts a skeptical eye over the theory that employee happiness directly impacts profitability. Laurie and Áine then discuss to what extent moral judgments play in customer’s shopping choices and what on the whole creates brand loyalty.

Áine is in a new role at Business Insider since her last appearance on the podcast, and she gives us some insight into what it was like for her to transition into retail reporting. Laurie comments on how statistically atypical Áine’s current career is for her generation. She commutes to work and has a job with a desk. Many GenXers are leaving those jobs, but Áine enjoys her organization’s culture.

Then to finish up, Laurie and Áine talk a little about Black Friday’s dwindling influence over holiday shopping—and whether or not self-checkout is actually faster than someone doing it for you—before saying goodbye for this week.


Áine Caine on Business Insider

Áine Caine on LinkedIn

Áine Caine on Twitter

‘We sped like crazy’: Amazon delivery drivers say they feel pressure to drive dangerously, urinate in bottles, and sprint on the job


About five years ago, I was asked to a super-secret lunch to answer one question:

“What do you think of an idea called WorkHuman?”

I was like, whoa, tell me more.

My friends at Globoforce wanted to launch a movement to bring more humanity to the workplace. America was feeling its sea legs from the Great Recession. People were rejoining the workforce. Topics like big data and AI were emerging in HR-friendly circles, but few people were discussing diversity, inclusion, and employee emotions.

What did I think of a community, a conference, and a movement called “WorkHuman” to help HR professionals and business leaders create high-performing organizations that also care about individual workers?

I remember saying, “Your idea is big and bold. If you do it right, the market will copy you.”

I have to laugh because — not that it matters — Globoforce got it right. It turns out, people want to work human. Here we are in late 2018 with sub-4% unemployment and almost every significant employer out there is talking about “being human” or “working human” or “bringing humanity back to the workplace.”

You can’t work in HR without working human.

WorkHuman turns five in 2019.

The first WorkHuman was a leap of faith, but every single event after has doubled in size. I love it when the market recognizes a good idea. More importantly, it’s rewarding to see a change in behavior within the human resources industry. Whereas HR professionals once tried to align themselves with a 1995 University of Michigan model where they are business consultants first and human beings second, now it’s clear you must attend to individual and social needs first to move the business forward.

I’m still helping out in the background with WorkHuman because I’m 100% down with putting humanity at the core of workplace issues. I’m a paid consultant to the conference, but I’ll be doing a live webcast on Tuesday, December 4th at 1 PM ET with my buddy Jason Lauritsen.

It’s free, and I hope you can attend. Jason and I will tell stories about work and bring you real-world answers to help make your workplace more productive, more engaging, and, ultimately, more human.

Isn’t that what HR is all about?

PS – Want to attend WorkHuman 2019 but need a discount code? Here’s mine: WH19INFLRU

I am nearing the end of “light duty,” no thanks to my gallbladder surgery. What an exhausting journey, but I’m feeling much better.

What is light duty?

Light or modified duty means your employer has put you in a less physically demanding job until you are healed from a medical condition. It can also mean that your employer might alter your current position to meet the restrictions imposed by your doctor or medical team.

Sometimes you’re on light duty because of an injury at work. Other times, it’s because of a temporary medical condition such as surgery or pregnancy. You might also be on light duty because of chronic disease.

I’m grateful for the time off. My clients have been accommodating, my husband has been doing extra chores, and nobody questions me when I ask for help lifting heavy items.

When I tried to push myself and go back to the gym, my surgeon said, “There’s never going to be another time in your life when someone tells you not to exercise. Do you want a hernia? Get your steps in, of course, but don’t push it. Want to do something? Finish your book.”

Snap. Other people aren’t so lucky.

My first HR job was an internship at a candy factory, and my colleagues thought light duty was a scam. People were trying to get out of doing their jobs. Back in 1995, final decisions on light duty were made by the holy triumvirate of the HR Director, plant manager, and union representatives. I don’t remember a ton of sympathy for employees, and most requests — even pregnancy — were viewed with a hermeneutic of suspicion.

It’s not much better now.

Since light duty requests now intersect with FMLA and ADA, many organizations have experts — nurses or third-party medical providers — who review light duty requests and make those decisions. But women are still forced to work physically demanding jobs, and there was a recent article about the high number of women who miscarry in America because they’re forced to choose between being pregnant and work.

What am I doing to fix work for people on light duty?

Well, I have a podcast called “Let’s Fix Work,” and it’s mostly a bunch of privileged people talking about how to fix the professional workforce. Yes, I’m self-aware.

Some of the episodes are pragmatic and helpful, but I’d like to focus more on fixing work for people who need light duty — in the restaurant, retail, healthcare, and transportation industries. Our workforce is sore, suffers from lower back pain, and miscarries at a higher rate. But there aren’t a lot of good answers for it, either.

So far, I’ve learned the answer to fixing work and addressing wellbeing is to swap out the commoditized workforce and replaces them with robots, kiosks, and self-checkout lanes. Then, we send those workers off to a community college to be retrained. But retrained for what? What jobs exist in the future? How do they get paid while they’re retrained? Nobody has good answers to those questions.

Season 2 of Let’s Fix Work kicks off next week.

My light duty ends on Wednesday, which means the next season of Let’s Fix Work is underway. We’ve got Áine Cain on December 3rd. She’s a returning guest and a retail reporter for Business Insider. We’re talking about the real world of work at Costco, Amazon, Target, Home Depot, Lowes and Walmart. I’m excited to have her back and hope you find the conversation interesting.

More importantly, I’m working hard to create a season of Let’s Fix Work that is helpful, interesting, and a little different from your average business podcast. Hope you hear things on my show that you wouldn’t learn anywhere else. And I appreciate your support as I emerge from the shadow of light duty.

I’m feeling better, and I hope it shows in the quality of my work.


Last week, I did a series of posts on where you can donate over the holidays and on Giving Tuesday.

The places were:

Hustle Chicago 2019
• The GoFundMe for Ita Olsen — her house burnt down in the California wildfires
• Safe Haven for Cats

I’d also like to offer a few more ideas.

1. Kalamazoo Animal Rescue. I still have two cats from this lovely organization that survived the Great Recession in Michigan by the sheer force and creativity of its volunteers. When I first began volunteering there, I was appalled by what people would do to animals. But then I learned what people would do for animals, and it restored my faith in our community.

2. Independent Animal Rescue. That’s where I found Roxy, at a Petco, while running an errand. She’s the smoochiest love of my life. And IAR is a wonderful organization that fosters some of the sweetest cats and dogs. Worth a donation.

3. InterAct of Wake County. I tried to volunteer here but had a panic attack during volunteer training. It turns out, I’m sensitive to domestic violence topics. I’ve come to support them through money and donations to the thrift store.

4. Planned Parenthood. There is no gender equality at work without reproductive freedom. You can’t trust women to run a company if you can’t trust women with their bodies.

5. New Moms. This is a Chicago charity that’s near and dear to my heart. The best way to be pro-life is to fund life-altering institutions. New Moms is one of those organizations.

I’d love to hear where you are donating on #GivingTuesday. Got a recommendation? Leave it in the comments below.


Black Friday

Hey, everybody. Happy Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday rolled into one weird weekend for solopreneurs like me who sell services on the internet.

I’m working feverishly on my book, but it’s too soon to sell you anything other than a manuscript. But I do have two deals you might want to buy.

I’m running an online course for risk-taking in 2019. I took a risk on myself while working in a corporate job, and it paid off. Is there one thing you want to accomplish in 2019 but seems daunting? Want to get promoted? Go back to school? Start a small business? Become a public speaker? Let’s work on it together. Click the link, and you’ll get 25% off my class — that’s $360 if you can’t do the math.

Total Amount: $360.00

Wonder where your life is headed? Struggling on the job? Hate your boss? Need a pep talk and a plan but don’t have time for my online class? I’m not your life coach or therapist, but let’s fix work by brainstorming. Click on the link below and book me for an hour. I usually charge $160, but you’ll get a deal at $79. Buy one session or six. Buy a session for a friend as a holiday gift. Whatever you need, let me know. You can email me at with questions before you buy.

Total Amount: $79.00

These offers are good until Monday at 11:59 PM ET. Would love to help you kick ass and take names in 2019.



Are you one of those people who judges someone who gets diabetes or cancer?

“Oh, they’re fat. Oh, they’re a smoker. They wouldn’t be sick if they took better care of themselves.”

Man, I hope you’re not one of those people. While it’s true that some health-related conditions are due to lifestyle choices, it’s also true that everybody gets sick and dies. Being alive is expensive, and, if you have your health, you are lucky.

I’m especially appalled when I hear people judge smokers and vapers. Most people start smoking before they’re adults, and they get hooked because of hegemonic corporate interests and super-slick marketing campaigns. If you don’t start smoking by the age of 21, it’s 95% unlikely that you’ll ever start.

Once you start smoking, studies have found that it’s harder to quit than heroin. And, unlike heroin, nobody gives you 21 days in a rehab facility to put down the e-cigarette or pack of Marlboros and get your shit together. No mindfulness, no meditation, no respite for the weary former smoker whose nerves are frazzled. We only allow wellness in our lives when we’re in deep crisis, and maybe not even then.

This holiday season, imma make another big ask of you: please donate to Hustle Chicago 2019 to help me fight lung diseases. Far too many people in my life are smokers who can’t quit. Some suffer from asthma and COPD and are struggling with air quality problems in California. And my elementary school friend, Jenny Stein, was a half-marathoner and badass mom who died of lung cancer just a few years ago.

You might be like — Laurie, this holiday season left me drained. I have no money to donate.

Listen, I feel you. Budgets are choices, and right now I’m going eight weeks between hair coloring appointments because I want to be more philanthropic in 2018. One of my priorities is fighting lung disease. Plus nobody thinks I’m a real blonde, so let’s put my money to better use.

Furthermore, I’m going back to Chicago and running up a skyscraper for the 7th time because my sister hasn’t stopped smoking. Not only am I a donor who puts her money where her mouth is, but I’m also a warrior.

And I can’t do this without you. Any amount will make a difference.

Please donate to Hustle Chicago 2019, this Thanksgiving, and make a difference in the lives of children who have asthma, caregivers who are taking care of family members with COPD, and everybody who is at risk from second-hand smoke.

I’m running up 94 floors to help improve lung health and fight disease. I’ve got your back when it comes to these issues. I hope you’ve got mine.


Sometimes it seems like tragedy is so far away.

Tsunamis? Earthquakes? Wildfires? Those are crazy events that happen on the other side of the country or planet. Nothing like will ever touch your family. And while it’s easy to donate $10 to the Red Cross, you’re probably not gonna do it because everybody hits you up for cash during the holiday season.

Well, dammit, I thought the same thing until my friend’s house burned down in a wildfire.

Ita Olsen is an ordinary person — not a celebrity or a Hollywood star — who lived in a quiet condominium in Malibu. Two weeks ago, she lost everything in those crazy fires burning throughout that entire state. Here are two photos of her condo:

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Ita’s immediate family and her community sprang into action, but she lost everything — escaping only with her son’s baby book and her father’s ashes. And it’s an especially tragic story because Ita worked from home as a public speaking coach and, also, as a mom who homeschooled her nine-year-old son. They lost much more than furniture and clothing. They lost rituals, routines, and stability. Literally, everything about their old way of life is over. My heart crumbled when Ita shared that her son misses his stuffed animals.

So, I did what a friend does: I donated to Ita’s Go Fund Me Page. And you should, too.

But she’s not just looking for charity. Ita wants to get back to work. Want a consultant who can train your team on public speaking skills? Know someone in your industry who could benefit from accent reduction courses? Do you need a personal tune-up with your presentation skills?

This is America, and the way we help Ita’s family is by donating to her Go Fund Me Page and getting her back to work. That $10 you’re going to send to the Red Cross? That’s great, but send it to Ita where there’s no administrative overhead, and the funds can be applied to stuffed animals and toys over the holidays.

And, while you’re having Thanksgiving dinner and fighting with your dumb cousin about whether or not it would help to rake the forest floor, spare a moment for Ita’s family and think about what they’re enduring over the holiday season. As a good Irish Catholic, Ita will take your thoughts and prayers. However, she’d love to take you up on the opportunity to improve your public speaking skills so you can calmly and eloquently tell your dumb cousin how you feel about his political views at your next holiday gathering.

I promised you, earlier this week, that I’d only tell you about charities where I’ve donated. Well, I’ve given to Ita. Please consider doing the same, and let’s get Ita back to work.


hurricane florence animals

We had a few days of lovely weather here in North Carolina.

That’s why I don’t live anywhere else at this point in my life. I want sunshine, blue skies and no humidity in November. This year’s weather has been weird, but, yesterday, we finally eeked out a gorgeous day. So, I did what comes naturally to me: I went to the beach.

I haven’t driven down to the coast since Hurricane Florence because, well, it’s a goddamn mess.

I take the back roads to the beach, and the damage from the Cape Fear River was staggering. Everything from trailer homes to hog farms to the cotton crop was destroyed. Several months later, garbage (i.e., people’s lives, pink insulation, bags of wet clothing, toys, chairs, mattresses) were piled up on the roadside waiting to be picked up.

Once I got to the coast, the scene wasn’t much better. The extremely windy conditions made me grateful that I was nowhere near the beach during the hurricane. There were boarded up windows, ripped off rooftops, and shit piled everywhere waiting to be collected. Some neighborhoods were better than others, but even the beach showed signs or wear and tear.

There’s been progress, but it’s not enough. People’s lives are still in disarray. And if you weren’t wealthy to begin with, this storm kicked your ass.

In response to the storm, I did three things: donated items, my time and money.

The animal shelters in Carteret, Pender and Onslow counties were overwhelmed by the storms. They brought their animals to the fairgrounds in Raleigh and asked for blankets, rags, food, and litterboxes. They also needed bleach and other cleaning supplies. I keep a fair amount of that stuff around the house, so we drove over a big load of animal-related products to the staging area.

I poked my head into the buildings to visit the dogs and cats, and it took my breath away. So incredibly heartwarming to see all those animals who were saved by citizens of North Carolina; so very sad to think about how breeders in North Carolina thoughtlessly cost the taxpayers all that time and money.

Then I donated my time. The more belongings you can recover, the more money you can keep from FEMA and the insurance companies to rebuild your life. That’s why I volunteered with a family in Wallace right after the storm. I stood in the sun and worked a disinfection line. We cleaned moldy but salvageable items from a home.

Finally, I donated money. My preferred charity is Safe Haven for Cats, which sheltered cats from the storm and found them forever homes. Don’t like cats? Donate to RebuildNC.

TL;DR Hurricane Florence is still a thing, and North Carolinians with two paws and four paws need your help. Give up a cup of coffee or a pack of cigarettes and donate something today. Or, better yet, go volunteer in your local community in the name of those who were affected by the hurricane.

This is the season of giving. Don’t roll over and give to big charities with splashy marketing campaigns. Find a way for your time and money to have the most significant impact by doing your research, or by following my advice, and giving to those organizations who need it most.

Tomorrow, I’ll have another set of charitable recommendations for you.

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