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A couple of months ago, I attended an event where a bunch of HR ladies discussed talent-related topics and drank champagne and rosé.

(It’s too bad. I didn’t know that bubbles had jumped the shark.)

I jumped the shark a long time ago, and I never say no to free champagne. So I joined the ladies in a bunch of meaningless chit chat about the future of HR. My verdict? It’s all very boring. Let’s talk about something else.

That’s when one of them decided to tell me what she thinks of me.

“You know what’s dangerous about your blog? You write like you have no equal.”

Only in HR would someone call my blog dangerous. And only in HR would someone who has never met me offer unsolicited feedback while simultaneously considering herself to be a good leader.

But, okay, I’ll play along.

I said that maybe my blog seems dangerous because I’m a woman with a strong point-of-view. And I have no equals. My greatest competition is Joel Cheesman who blogs like it’s 2009 and job boards are hot. (Oh, wait!)

She told me, “No, that’s not it.”

I was informed that my blog is dangerous because of its “absolutism” about HR. My worldview is myopic, and I don’t see that other points of view might be relevant.

It’s not a particularly insightful or original critique of my blog, but it’s not entirely unfair. I don’t have any equals. My HR blogging excellence is unparalleled, mostly because it’s HR blogging and the standards are low.

The bubble-fueled HR lady wasn’t done assessing my blog, by the way. She also said, “You know, Laurie, here’s the thing. I don’t always agree with what you say. But I can’t lie. I love the way you say it.”

Here’s the thing — is that a compliment?

I have always felt like it’s an unfriendly way of showing superiority — as if my blog is cute, even if it’s not correct. And it’s hard not to be defensive. I am a classically trained HR generalist who’s been doing this for over twenty years. I’m not new at offering insights or commentary on the failing role of HR in corporate America. When someone shows up and shows me that HR isn’t full of ineffective and whiny leaders who need constant validation, I’ll pack up this blog and do something different.

Won’t be this bitch and her bubbles who shut me up, though.

I’m not an egomaniacal monster, and I truly don’t believe my own hype. Mostly because there is no hype. And I want more for this HR lady than to lob passive-aggressive compliments at a blogger. I wanted to tell her — if you think you have something to say that’s significant and noteworthy about HR and recruiting, the world is your oyster. Buy a domain, set up a blog, or just write on Medium or even LinkedIn.

There’s no shortage of ways to contribute — positively or negatively — to the ongoing discussion about the ways in which HR fails to make an impact. When you’re ready to share an idea, a small but engaged audience is waiting.

But what you shouldn’t ever do is think that you can read a blog or see a keynote speaker and do better than the person who’s trying her hardest to make a change in this world. Don’t let the bubbles fool you. You probably can’t do better. That’s why you still work in HR and yell insults from the peanut gallery.

So if you’re like this HR lady and flummoxed by people who don’t deserve the limelight, be brave and join the fray. Have an opinion, speak your mind, and try to unseat someone who doesn’t deserve her place on the stage.

Just don’t think you can read my blog, sip champagne with me, and consider yourself an equal. You’re not even close.

30 Responses to I Have No Equal
  1. John

    Wow. Just Wow.

    • ruettimann

      I know, I know. I’m insufferable!

  2. Julie Kellman

    Yikes! Oh that passive aggressive tendency in our line of work makes me crazy. I’m glad you are not deterred by bubbles. I wonder what she would say about someone like me who almost always disagrees with you.

  3. Allison

    You’re a badass, Laurie. Keep doing what you’re doing.

  4. Heavy Hal

    Were you drunk when you wrote this?

  5. MML

    I’m speechless and want to hug you at the same time. I don’t always agree with things that I read be it on your blog or others, but if they invoke emotion, or thought or action they were worth reading…(to be honest some other blogs I follow I don’t even read completely because its dull and regurgitated information that I feel I could have written myself). All that being said I read your blog because it makes me think, it’s not written like a text book and at times it challenges me which is why I read it to be challenged and see new perspective…to get out of my own head and sometimes out of my own way. Don’t let Bubble get to you because just like the champagne she was drinking no matter how good it is when first opened if you don’t shake the bottle every now and then it will go flat 🙂

  6. sarah

    You rock — as always. I think it is good for the passive aggressive, status quo, “don’t have a seat at the table” crew of HR to be uncomfortable by what you write. Unfortunately, they will ditch what you say to alleviate their discomfort. And that is why HR keeps staying in the same place — wanting to be important to the business without wanting to do what makes them most important.

  7. Heather

    Was she wearing the de riguer cardigan and flip flops? 🙂

    Keep speaking out…there are so few of us who do!

  8. Marilyn

    Interesting. Actually none of us, regardless of the field we are in, have equals. And being told or saying you have no necessarily a compliment. The lowest can have no equal also.

    I enjoy your blog, but don’t always agree with it – but I appreciate different points of view. Often you make what I consider to be excellent points, and provide great insights or I wouldn’t continue to read it. Like most of us, you are a study in contradictions. Sometimes I think agree more with your world view in general than your view of HR.

    Because I am an HR lady I wonder where did the derision for “HR ladies” come from – do you not have a similar derision for HR gentlemen? There are plenty of men in the field now. There are times (and this is one of them) you can cut the contempt with a knife.

    It could be you need to find another crowd of HR ladies to hang with – instead of CHROs at large corporations, check out the HR movers and shakers (men and women) at smaller companies. HR leaders who, rather than spend several thousand dollars to physically attend a conference, feel more comfortable (personally and professionally) spending their HR budget in other ways.

    I don’t write a blog because I prefer actually being in the trenches and working with employees implementing my ideas. I am not your equal and you are not my equal. We both just are.

    • Colleen

      I second your points, Marilyn. At least 50% of the reason I don’t go to HR conferences is to avoid head-of-HR ladies like the one Laurie describes.

      Laurie, I love your blog. There’s no passive aggressive implied “but” at the end of that statement–I enjoy your blog and I enjoyed this post. I kick ass in HR and I don’t need to write a blog in order to own my kick-ass ideas about HR.

      • Colleen

        Replying to my own dang reply, to clarify that I don’t think Marilyn’s comment was passive aggressive–I was referring to Bubbles. 🙂

  9. Jess Lipson

    Amen!

  10. Marilyn

    Sigh – painful to go back and read your blog comment, and see all the goofs. Some say it Somehow the errors are more glaring after the comment posts.

  11. Patrick Lynch

    Great post. I read your post religiously because you have something to say and you tell it in a voice that is unique, genuine and funny.

  12. Mark Herbert

    Too funny. Truly Laurie you are unique and without equal.
    You are also correct that most HR practitioners are still whining about their
    critics rather than trying to change their viewpoint.
    On another note I can recommend some killer rose

  13. Nancy

    Love, just love!

  14. Scot Herrick

    When you are not in the arena with the lions, you don’t get to criticize the person in the arena. And, unless you write consistently as on this and other blogs, you don’t understand how disciplined one needs to be to consistently show up with unique content and, at times, put up with stuff like this. It is not easy.

    I haven’t seen a good HR department in a corporation yet, so I come here to see what one could be if they had the leadership to do it.

    Carry on. Don’t let Joel be the only one crying in the wilderness for change!

  15. Gerry Crispin

    I go to museums and love the paintings.Sometimes I think I can do better but any reaction, good or bad, confirms the creator as an artist. But artists, at least to me, don’t issue calls to action beyond their own vision..

    Why your voice stands out imo is that you move beyond the art to invite others to get off their professional couch and act. Thanks.

  16. Heather Bussing

    Passive aggressive feedback v. assertive direct feedback. Compare and contrast. #whyperformancereviewsshoulddie

  17. Ronald Ortiz

    Big LOVE!!

  18. Karen

    “here’s the thing.” sort of the equivalent to “I’m the type of person who…” to obfuscate my own responsibility for my a-holery.

  19. Sarah moore

    Laurie
    You, your ideas, your blog and courage and willingness to stand up and tell us in HR (….) to sort ourselves out is a breath of fresh air. Ladies (and men, I have to say) like Bubbles, are THE reason I do not go to HR conferences, meet up with them and less and less ‘identify’ my profession as HR. You rock as always Laurie. It would have been a tough call for me – I love both champagne and rose!
    Sarah x

  20. Christina G.

    You’re one BAMF and don’t let anyone else tell you otherwise.

  21. Renette Hier

    Laurie, keep doing what you’re doing. Love, love, love your blog and your point of view. Truly refreshing not only in HR but life in general.

  22. Jarret

    Great blog Laurie on a number of levels and two thing jumped out that EVERYONE deep down know but so few are willing to admit

    “Only in HR would someone call my blog dangerous.”

    “But what you shouldn’t ever do is think that you can read a blog or see a keynote speaker and do better than the person who’s trying her hardest to make a change in this world”

    I wont lie, I have been in a blogging “funk” and reading this got me stirred up in a positive way. Thanks.

  23. Jessica Miller-Merrell

    I love this Laurie and I detest comments like this. They are said out of fear and also jealousy because you can speak your mind and have an opinion that not everyone might like. The fact that you aren’t afraid to do that is what I think is so powerful.

    For what it’s worth, I think the women gave you compliment.

    JMM

  24. Cyndi Henderson

    I (heart) you so damn much

  25. Cyndi Henderson

    Also I will drink champagne and fuss about sanctimonious HR ladies anytime. Although I’d change the subject in fewer than 5 minutes.