Posts by: Laurie Ruettimann


A lot of my girlfriends are fond of saying, “God, grant me the confidence of a middle-aged white man.”

It always makes me laugh out loud. I think it comes from this article on Medium, which is also funny to me.

It’s the belief that your hardship is harder than someone else’s misfortune. It’s the faith in your point of view when facts suggest otherwise. It’s the confidence that your life story is inspirational when it’s just ordinary.

I love the prayer. Luckily, I have the confidence of a middle-aged white man. Grandiosity and self-exaggeration come naturally to me. But sometimes I have doubts, and the prayer serves me well when my competitors — almost all of them middle-aged white men who would never think of me as a contender — call me out for my doubt, apprehension, and cynicism.

These dudes read my blog or listen to my podcast and criticise my tone, style, and delivery. They question my expertise and the right to have an opinion. And they think I’m too angry, vulgar or simple to understand my industry.

I think these competitors like me, actually. It’s like a kindergarten crush turned crusty with sun damage, failed marriages and receding hairlines.

Anyway, the confidence prayer serves me well when my rivals hit back and try to tell me that what I’m doing is wrong or isn’t working. I ask God (the inner voice in my head) for confidence, and I keep going. And that’s what I want for you, too.

You should use the confidence prayer if you’re a woman, a protected minority, or even if you’re a middle-aged white guy. Embrace the audacity of a mediocre white man because you’re going to need that confidence to win whatever battle you face.

Somewhere, sometime, someone will accuse you of being an impostor. You’ll either flop and prove them right, or demonstrate how they’re wrong. It’s just a choice, and mediocre middle-aged white men know this. So, make the correct decision and open some doors for yourself.

But, if you want to be better than mediocre middle-aged white men, do yourself a favor and try to win your opponents over as friends and push them to be better versions of themselves. You don’t want to enter a stalemate of mediocrity, and you only get better when you have real rivals.

Know better, do better, help other people be better. That’s the real prayer of winners.


There’s a discussion happening with some of my fellow public speakers. We want to know the Instagram secrets. Most of us are under 10,000 followers and can’t crack 200 likes. People “like” us, but our stories are only watched by about 10% of our audience.

People in my social scene want to know — Is our audience throttled? How can we increase our Instagram numbers? How do we earn more likes and follows without being obnoxious? Does advertising make a difference? What are the Instagram secrets?

I’ve done some digging, watched a few webinars, and tried to shake things up on my account. Here’s the number one secret for more Instagram followers: be young and pretty. The second Instagram secret: have an exciting life. The third Instagram secret: you’re going to have to spend more than $50 on an advertising campaign to make a difference. Those aren’t shocking Instagram secrets, are they?

Want more Instagram followers? Helps not to be a middle-aged former HR lady with a confusing brand proposition. When people follow me, I’ve learned they have a ton of questions. She travels for work? That’s great, so does my mom. And she’s not even going anywhere fun. Does she like cats? Her cats don’t seem to be famous. Is she a narcissist? You bet, no thanks, pass.

Want more likes and follows? It’s reverse psychology, and you can’t get more likes and follows if you want them. The “look at me look at me look at me look at me look at me look at me look at me look at me look at me look at me look at me look at me look at me look at me” philosophy is a repellent. Unless you’re asking to be looked at ironically, which is still very sad but people might give you a pity-like and pity-follow.


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Super lucky to work with Kathy on a makeup-free portrait and headshot progression series. Honestly, I rolled out of bed and was treated to a fabulous experience. Love @kathyhoward @winkhairandmakeup and can’t recommend them enough. #Repost @kathyhoward with @get_repost ・・・ Yesterday was a great day✨ Began with this fun beauty Portrait Session… ‘Third time’s a charm’ is evidently truth, as this was the third time I’ve had the privilege to photograph this amazing #girlboss , magic was definitely created✨ — Hair & Makeup by Kristi @winkhairandmakeup . . . #kathyhowardportrait #behindthescene #portraits #portraitphotography #raleighnc #raleighphotographer #ncphotographer #raleighheadshots #raleighpersonalbranding #personalbranding #magazinestyleportraits #thisis43 #imtoosexyformycat

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Want to grow your engagement numbers and unlock the secrets of Instagram with 10,000 followers? Hire an agency. Seriously. That’s what all of those other IG-famous people have done. While everyone can ask to be verified, an agency-driven request moves mountains.

As middle-aged public speakers and authors who haven’t cracked the best sellers list from The New York Times, it’s tough to play a young person’s game unless you have young people on your staff. Thankfully, Instagram secrets are easy to grasp. You’ve got two options: throw a bunch of money at it, or ignore it and be the most authentic version of yourself possible while pretending that you don’t care about likes and follows.

So, I’m going to try “not caring.” I dropped off a thread about how to increase my Instagram audience. Imma be my most authentic self. And my most authentic self is a 43-year-old woman who loves looking at travel photos, cats and cool hairstyles on the internet. It’s a pretty ordinary existence with moments of fun experiences on the job.

For the 10% of my audience who sees it and cares, that’s great. I appreciate you. And I love your average, ordinary life back.


Hello, everybody, I’m home from Las Vegas and in “hurricane prep” mode. I’m snacking and doing laundry. I’ll be making book recommendations on Twitter, later today, so be sure to follow me for round the clock coverage of my ordinary life.

I’m also reflecting on my whirlwind trip to Las Vegas. By the time the conference got into high gear, I was packed and headed for the airport. However, I did see a ton of old friends and colleagues. I briefly walked the expo floor as they were setting up, and I heard LAURIE LAURIE LAURIE LAURIE LAURIE LAURIE as I sauntered down the aisles. Then I attended a few parties and also heard LAURIE LAURIE LAURIE LAURIE LAURIE LAURIE.

People weren’t chanting for me. They were trying to grab my attention, say hello, and share stories about their lives. And I don’t mind bumping into my colleagues except so many people are totally fucking miserable, right now. Men and women with high-level roles in big corporations are exhausted and ready to head to the nearest competitor in 2019 once their bonuses are paid out.

“Don’t you work for one of the best companies in America?” I asked a friend.

“Yeah, it’s great how they shove it down your throat all day long.”

Yowza, work is messy. Work can suck for everybody including people who stand on stage and talk about creating healthy work environments and human-centric employee experiences. So, because I’m a burgeoning writer, I jot down notes and ideas. Here are some of the things I wrote on my iPhone over the past few days:

“Don’t worry about your job, worry about your soul.”
“Artificial intelligence isn’t fact, it isn’t an opinion, it’s a lie we tell ourselves because we don’t have real answers, yet.”
“You matter. Your job only matters because you matter. You would matter without your job.”
“Chatbots are a step backward. It’s wrong to sell depersonalization as personalization.”
“What if we could reboot our lives like we reboot our laptops?”
“Does Vegas make you lose your mind?”
“HR EX is the barometer for EX at a company.”

I’m not Bob Woodward, but lots of people in my field are exhausted. If the best and brightest individuals in the field of human resources can’t fix their own work experiences, how can they fix work for you? The answer is that they can’t. Nobody can fix your work experience except you. And you’ll do it by prioritizing your values and putting yourself first.

Just wish I could get my colleagues to see it that way, too.


There’s a hurricane headed my way, and I’m sitting in my hotel room killing a few hours before heading to the airport. I’m thinking about all the times I’ve come to Las Vegas for technology conferences and human resources events that promise to change the world and make employees happy, and then all the times I leave shaking my head and wondering why I show up at all.

This is not my tribe. These are not my people.

My people believe corporations can’t be trusted. We know that leaders would screw you over to save a nickel. And the only way to change the world is to show up for the people you love, commit to improving your community, and fight anybody who gets in your way.

So what the heck am I doing in Las Vegas? Why do I keep showing up?

Well, for starters, I’m in debt. I need to pay off the expenses of my failed technology company without touching my family’s savings accounts. So, I’m here in Las Vegas to find work in my industry as a content marketer. And it’s a mixed bag because I’m a strong writer with substantial relationships in an industry that frustrates the crap out of me. Maybe that’s why I can’t pay off this damn debt. Hard to do business development while being suspicious of someone who’s bragging about the innovation behind a chatbot. But I’d like to clear the decks on this debt before my husband clears the decks on me, is all I’m saying. So that’s reason number one why I’m here in Las Vegas.

The second reason is that I love my friends. I worked with a ton of awesome HR leaders and technologists. And even though I want to barf everytime someone talks about the intersection of AI and talent acquisition strategies, I love my colleagues and want them to change the world. And, in my mind, they can’t be effective without my nagging (aka my contrarian POV). Do you want an effective talent acquisition strategy? Don’t be racist or sexist. Stand the fuck up when it matters. Vote with your feet and work somewhere else if you hate your job. I’ve got plenty of platitudes, and, in my mind, these people need me. THEY NEED ME IN ALL CAPS.

But mostly I’m in Vegas because I can’t write a book about “work” or do a podcast if I don’t stay close to the world of work. And I need the inside scoop to help employees and even leaders fix work. This is what I’ve learned:

Sometimes the inside scoop feels like we will be okay, but mostly it feels like we’re fucked. It’s not just that skills don’t align with the needs of the marketplace. It’s that companies don’t value what humans have to offer. There’s an expectations gap, and I believe we need basic income and universal healthcare faster than ever. However, we don’t have the intellectual rigor to understand that wealth is hoarded, work is broken, and that our physical efforts at “work” will never yield financial security for most Americans.

Dark? Dystopian? Cynical? Sure, but at least I got to see my friends and colleagues in Las Vegas. Here’s hoping that my friendships and professional relationships endure and that I’m wrong about work, wrong about tech, and wrong about human resources.

Now does anybody need a blog post? How about a whitepaper?


Hey, everybody. My industry — human resources technology — is full of experts, thought leaders and influencers. Every industry has people who move the needle, either behind the scenes or out in public, and HR is no different. Think of all the beauty bloggers, crafty moms on Pinterest, and fitspo Instagrammers.

Up until recently, nobody described this aspect of our industry until a magazine called Workforce took a swing at describing “influence.” The journalist who wrote the story, Michelle V. Rafter, is a seasoned reporter who understands the business of HR and technology. She used the words expert, thought leader, and influencer with precision and rigor.

And it turns out that I’m an influencer, lucky me.

Listen, nobody takes an influencer list seriously except the people who feel like they should be on the list and aren’t. But I’m smart enough to know that my words and actions carry importance in my community. So you’ll often see me using my platform to amplify stories and advocate on behalf of causes (or people) who mean the world to me.

That’s why I stole the influencer image from the Workforce article and made t-shirts to help support my colleague, Mollie Lombardi, who was diagnosed with Parkison’s Disease but fights to stay fit and active.

Mollie is the ultimate influencer — someone who influences the influential — and she runs a charity endeavor called #HRGivesBack. If you want to give the finger to Parkinson’s as I do, please buy one of my limited-edition t-shirts. They’re $25, and you can contact me at to place an order.

There’s a limited quantity available, and all proceeds benefit #HRGivesBack and Team Fox.

Mollie’s mission is so important to me that my friend, Lenny Terenzi of Hey Monkey Design, was moved to donate his time and energy to rush the production of these shirts for the HR Technology Conference & Exposition. He gave me a super-awesome discount and got the job done in less than a few days, so if you want me to bring your shirt to Vegas, just let me know.

TL;DR Influence in a void of narcissistic emptiness — on Facebook, Instagram, or even in your mind — is power wasted. If someone ever calls you an influencer, don’t blow it. Use your position in the community to do good work for someone else.

Now let’s raise some money for #HRGivesBack.

[📷by Kathy Howard Portrait]


You’re not getting enough sleep.

After twenty years of working in the field of human resources, I think that lack-of-sleep accounts for a majority of work-related problems and conflicts.

I have an inbox of inquiries from readers who can’t get along with coworkers, have difficulty articulating their ideas, and can’t connect with a sense of passion or meaning. And the language used to describe these problems is exaggerated, hyperbolic, and absurd.

People who get enough sleep might feel irritated about work because they are adults; however, they don’t have the types of issues that are in my email account. I’m contacted by people who are having extremely irrational meltdowns and disrespected and displaced by colleagues, vendors, or even local executive teams.

So that you know, a “local executive team” is never truly an executive team. People who get enough sleep can see that a local executive team is a name to make a regionally-confined group of people feel better about themselves. It’s a trick. They have nowhere else to go in the company, or they can’t relocate. You should laugh at those suckers who take pride in such a bullshit system meant to appease people who have limited internal mobility.

But, no, you’re going to freak out.

When you’re rested and balanced, it’s easier to analyze what’s happening, prioritize the situation, and determine if a response is vital. And if an answer is required, a person who gets enough sleep doesn’t plot revenge. Or, if she does, it’s the kind of revenge where you give no fucks, and you live your best life out in the open.

Every poor decision I’ve ever made in my life can be attributed to lack of sleep. Yelling at my partner. Being irritable and disrespectful to colleagues at work. Eating like crap during the day and then eating like crap once I was home from the office. Pumping myself full of drugs — for my wacky digestive system, for my mood, for my irrational life — instead of getting more sleep.

Getting enough sleep means designing a life where you can rest. And for a while, it was hard for me to believe that I was the only one responsible for resetting my body clock. But once I committed to more sleep, the rest of my life fell into place.

So, how do you get over insomnia-anxiety-life-is-too-busy-kids-suck sleeping patterns? Lots of proper research on how to get more sleep. Eliminate caffeine. Get more cardio earlier in the day. Drink more water. Get to bed at the same time every night and wake up at the same time in the morning. No electronic devices for a few hours before bedtime. Don’t do anything other than sleep in your bed. If you can’t sleep, practice mindfulness.

The best advice that was given to me? Create a simple mantra to repeat in my head when I wake up in the middle of the night. Say it over and over again until I fall back asleep. So, whenever I wake up, I tell myself—I’m happy, I’m safe, I’m loved.

Corny, but I say it no more than a few times, and I’m back to sleep. It truly works. Do you have a mantra like that? Could you try it?

If you have kids, you might also accept the fact that you’re not going to sleep normally for a while and design other aspects of your life to be less stressful. If you know that you can only sleep four hours each night because a three-year-old dictator runs your life, why are you overscheduling your days?

All of my insights and advice are useless if you don’t choose to prioritize your wellbeing and take back your sleep-cycle. We’re all victims of a busy world, and competing interests fracture our attention and energy for our time and attention. But if you don’t choose sleep, nobody will choose it for you.

And the longer you walk around like a zombie, the more you suffer. Isn’t it time to try something a little different and get another hour or two of sleep? I’m rooting for you, and so is my email inbox.


Sometimes we get so bogged down hyper-analyzing the simplest questions, that we miss the obvious answers. “Do you love your job?” Your answer determines whether or not you’ve found the right place to cultivate your ever-evolving career, and it’s time to talk about it. Join our host/resident HR nerd and her guest, the former head of talent at Netflix (back when it was a mail-order DVD company — years before “Netflix and chill”) Patty McCord as they dive deep into understanding the world of work now, its future, and why you have to take charge of your career.

  • So, who is Patty McCord and why is she a big deal? For starters, she created the Netflix Culture Deck, which is a PowerPoint deck on culture that went viral years ago and is downright legendary in the business world. She is the HR equivalent of Margaret Mead, with her cultural anthropologist approach to the wonderful (if sometimes nasty) world of work.
  • Since leaving to forge her own path in 2012, Patty has been working hard to change the infrastructure of corporate culture at several high-level companies to create the positive change she wanted to see in society.
  • Patty is a feminist, thought leader, author, and an advocate of practicing radical honesty to move past the fundamentally broken way we manage people at work. Her book, Powerful: Building a Culture of Freedom and Responsibility, which is pretty much the hitchhiker’s guide to understanding Netflix’s work culture has been (as the title suggests) a powerful tool in transforming companies into high performing and high earning organizations.

Laurie and Patty share a conversation full of wisdom bombs — often touching upon the kinds of lessons you probably already know but all too often forget to pay much attention to.

  • The way we manage people is an HR nightmare. How are workers even expected to stay and love their jobs when they’re not treated like professionals? Seriously, these folks aren’t children, they deserve a better working environment where they are free to own their career and commit to their work.
  • Those times when employees went home saying: “Work was great today!” There is a way to replicate that. It’s called: “Let your professionals do the work they’re GREAT at!” If they’re not doing a great job, then they’re not a good fit, and that’s on you.
  • Hiring the right person for the job boils down to finding fully-formed adults. Since the world of work is always changing, you have to get people who are already whole and are ready to evolve with the company.
  • What’s the future of work and how does automation fit in all this? Don’t fear the future, don’t fear the unknown. Learn to say, “Things are changing. Is it better? How can we make it better?” There’s always room for improvement and that should be the goal of any scaling company.

The key takeaway from this episode is the more we learn to adapt and grow, the better off we’ll be as employers and employees. There’s really no point in subjecting yourself to the sheer torture of working for an organization that doesn’t treat you right. When you’re not being treated right, then you’re not in the right place. Laurie and Patty are firm believers in owning your career and calling the shots, so get on with it — you’re a professional, own your career.

The DIY HR Handbook

Wouldn’t you love to get your hands on Laurie’s no-holds-barred, honest DIY HR Handbook for employees and pros alike? Download it for free!

Patty McCord






Let’s Fix Work – Patreon

Bob Sutton

Jennifer McClure

One Stone Creative


A recent study reports that no alcohol is good for your health, which is terrible news for everybody who has a real job and wants to decompress.

Unfortunately, the news is true. Forget the French, forget your wine club, forget the beverage industry’s claims that beer is good after running. Not even a moderate amount of alcohol is worth the risk to your body. It turns out that sitting isn’t the new smoking. Drinking is the new smoking.

As someone trying to retire from alcohol, I am acutely aware of the pros and cons of drinking. Love champagne, hate a champagne headache. Love the margarita, hate the salt-bloat. Love the feeling of forgetting my problems, hate when I wake up from alcohol-induced anxiety at 3 o’clock in the morning and remember my obstacles are still there.

Adulthood is a tricky thing. Once you know that something has no upside, it’s hard to see anything but the downside.


There are so many things we do that are bad for us — or just don’t work — and yet we do them, anyway. Think about your job.

Interviews don’t correlate to performance, but we compel candidates to dress up in their fanciest business attire and roll into our offices and ask a bunch of dumb questions like we’re oracles and can predict the truth.

Performance reviews are garbage and don’t get to the heart of achievements, outcomes or obstacles; however, don’t tell that to the boss who thinks he’s doing you a favor by sitting down with you regularly and giving you feedback.

Wellness plans don’t deliver. They try to reward us for being healthy — and some companies offer to cook us healthy meals in the cafeteria — while still forcing us to commute to work, shoving us into open-office work environments, and making us sit all day in long meetings that don’t need to happen.

It’s not hard to see why so many people ignore science and drink socially or excessively. Spirits are worn away by a society that doesn’t bend or flex to commonsense or science. And it’s hard to fight back against nameless and faceless people who run corporations that make our lives harder. Much easier alter reality for a few moments than to change our careers and our lives permanently.

But I’m done with short-term fixes that never entirely fix things.

Now that I know that alcohol is mostly bad for society, I’m trying to make better choices. It’s not easy, but I’d rather be brutally honest than pretend that “moderation” is okay. While I’m not going to wave the temperance flag and badger other people about their choices, I’m not going to let the beverage industries profit and win because I’ve lied to myself about the benefits of drinking. The same people who say that it’s never been proven that drinking is bad for pregnant mothers are the ones who tell me that moderation is okay.

Do I look stupid here?

So, these are the things I won’t lie to myself about: Smoking. Drinking. Eating meat. Pretending that HR/corporate methods are useful.

What’s on your list?


How many people enjoy reading self-help and business books? I can’t imagine many.

(I’m burned out, myself.)

A few weeks ago, I finished my book proposal for “Let’s Fix Work,” and it includes an introduction, author bio, an overview of the audience, a marketing plan, competitive analysis of similar books that sold well, book specs, a chapter outline, and a sample chapter.

Honestly, I’m not trying to write a self-help or business book. I’ve had to read about a dozen to understand my competition, and most of them are horrible.

On the business book side, they are mainly dull and dry. Authors want to establish themselves as experts and write in a formal, unapproachable tone. When it comes to life-hack books, I think it seems uncool and shady to follow a formula where the author tells her own pathetic story, swears at her readers to motivate them, and tries to seem edgy while taking their money.

(No thanks. If that’s the game, I want no part of it.)

What do you think of business books and self-help books? What do you like? What bugs you?

My book tries to make the case that work is broken because you’re broken. Do you want to fix your job? Fix yourself and put yourself first. Deprioritize your job title and reconnect with your community. Bet on yourself. Fix your money. Prioritize happiness and contentment. Put your physical and emotional wellbeing first. Blah blah blah.

My book isn’t a self-help book or a traditional business guide. It’s just an attempt to help you reframe your current situation. It’s a list of ideas and suggestions. Take it or leave it.

(I hope you take it. I hope someone takes it. Part of being a big sister is realizing that no one listens to you.)

Now, having done the competitive analysis portion of my book proposal, I know there are things that I won’t do with my book.

First off, I won’t pretend that I’m a therapist. If I watch another Instagram story from a self-help guru who offers clinical advice in a pretty font, I’m seriously going to lose it. Therapeutic advice from a writer who isn’t a therapist is fraudulent.

Second, I won’t commoditize life’s obstacles and offer a neatly packaged solution. There are authors and gurus out there who have trademarked issues like impostor syndrome®™ and social anxiety®™ with the goal of offering five simple steps to fixing your life. I think that’s malpractice. Also, what if you are an impostor? Maybe you should own up to that and start living a more authentic life, yo.

(I’ve got my work cut out for me.)

The good news is that literary agents are interested, and I start traveling to meet them after Labor Day. I’m also traveling for work — attending conferences and meeting with clients — and can begin my marketing plan right now.

The bad news is that this book proposal has ruined my personal reading goals, and I’ve been inspired-to-death. It’s nearly impossible to pick up my Kindle, right now, and get excited about my library. So, if you have any YA book recommendations, I’ll take ’em.

What’s good? What are you reading that you love? I need to get my mind off fixing work for a few weeks while I’m traipsing around on planes trying to lock down an agent and sell this manuscript.


I’m heading to the 2018 HR Technology Conference & Exhibition because I’m excited about the pitchfest.

Generally speaking, pitchfests are a popular way for founders to present their new technology to captive audiences. You stand on stage for three minutes and tell people why your product will change the world.

It’s such a fun experience to watch. Sometimes the founders are PhDs from ivy league schools who feel more comfortable behind a laptop than on the stage. Other times, English is a second (or fourth) language for the speaker, and they face a one-two punch of being nervous because they’re standing on stage and, also, communicating in a foreign style.

Then some judges act like members of Shark Tank. Once the founder’s presentation is over, they ask questions about the new piece of technology. Some of the questions are nice, some are aggressive, and sometimes the judges will interject their opinions and tell the founder why she’ll fail. That’s always awkward because you’ve got someone who is an entrepreneur being lectured by someone who isn’t. Bring snacks.

My favorite thing about a pitchfest is looking at company names. This year, thirty companies are presenting at HR Tech. Their names are:

CompensationCloud, Inc
AskHR, a division of Audseb
Colleago Pty Ltd
Alyss Analytics
Knowledge Perks
Raven Intel
Swarm Vision
BioGrp Technology

Some of the names are awesome, some sound like pharmaceutical companies, and some are just weird. But it’s 2018 and hard to create a signature name and value proposition and find a matching domain.

My old tech company, GlitchPath, had a perfect name. In fact, an investor told me that it was the best thing about our platform. If only I could build something better to help people find a pathway out of their glitches, I’d have an excellent little technology company in three years and exit with $10MM.

Ah, feedback.

Good luck to all the companies participating in the pitchfest at HR Tech. If anybody needs my advice on how to communicate on stage or endure the conference, I’m here for you. The best thing to happen to the HR technology scene — and the entire industry, to be honest — is the burgeoning start-up market. I’m rooting for you all, and I would love to host the winner of the competition on my podcast.

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