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I’m just back from 24 hours in Las Vegas where I spent time remembering my friend IJ Gorman.

Ira-John Gorman was an athlete, a coach, and a teacher. He persisted through a rocky childhood and made a place for himself in this world by being an advocate for children, their education, and his faith. Family was everything to him, and his definition of “family” included people who endured less-than-stellar upbringings.

And his definition of a family included me thanks to his lovely wife, China Gorman.

China and I have been friends for a decade. On a trip to Las Vegas in 2010 or 2011, my husband and I joined the Gorman family for dinner at Ceasars Palace. Ken sat to my right, IJ sat to my left, and because I have atrocious table manners, I kept trying to drink IJ’s water.

I grabbed his water a dozen times before IJ laughed and told me, “Look at your hands and make the ‘okay’ sign. See how your left makes a b, and your right makes a d? Bread and drink. Bread and drink. Bread and drink.”

Ken and I still use that to this day!

It’s so funny that IJ Gorman taught me table manners, but he was committed to being a positive influence in my life. When I saw him at HR events, he always asked me if I was doing okay. Were people treating me with respect? Anybody hassling me? Because I should come to him if there was anything I ever needed. Did I hear him? Was he clear? Come to him with anything. He was here for me.

When I had the privilege of seeing IJ in person, our conversations always went to respect and integrity. He believed in the adage that how you do anything is how you do everything. Having a personal brand online and a different set of behaviors in real life was appalling. There should be no daylight between what’s in your heart and how you act in person. Show up for people no matter the medium. Relationships matter.

I went to Cuba with China in 2015, and IJ sent a message on Facebook asking for photos of his lovely bride in Havana. She would never think to post selfies. He wanted to see his wife enjoying herself.

I ask you — How many husbands would do that?

And IJ reached out with support and kind words about my blog posts, speaking events and videos. He’d send cat videos to say hello. And he never missed my birthday.

IJ was such a phenomenal human being, and his memorial service was everything you’d expect for a guy who was so beloved by friends, family, and colleagues. Everybody in the room laughed and cried, and, not that it needed to be confirmed, but it was clear IJ was a powerhouse of a human being who made the world a better place.

We all just got better for knowing him.

#IJGB

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Just yesterday, the Coast Guard published a newsletter for its furloughed workers and family members with advice and tips on how to earn fast cash during the government shutdown.

Among the many gems? Have a garage sale or be a mystery shopper.

America has hit a shabby low under Donald Trump. The shutdown isn’t impacting the elite bureaucrats and coastal technocrats who overlegislate our country into a hyperfeminized nanny-state.

The government shutdown touches regular people — parents, neighbors, and even HR professionals.

Hey, Laurie, I’m currently furloughed from work…and looking to make some extra cash. Do you think you can give me some pointers on how to get some speaking/training gigs? I’m looking to expand my portfolio of work. Appreciate any insights you can share!

First of all, I’m sorry you’re caught up in Donald Trump’s hissy fit. Because he’s too stupid to remember the nuances of immigration policy, and because he’s trying to distract us from the constant stream of bad news coming from Mueller investigation — you’re out of work. Thanks, Vladimir Putin.

Second, I’m sorry your job is linked to racist attitudes against brown people, women and children. You work in HR, a department believes in ability and merit, and your livelihood is jeopardized by people who believe in fencing in brown people like zoo animals. That’s gotta sting.

So, how do you earn fast cash during the government shutdown?

Get yourself to a temp agency like Kelly Services. Literally, pick one out and meet with the branch manager. Tell your story to the people in the office, and let them know you’re available immediately for training opportunities — or anything where you can use your brain.

Relationships are the currency of the private sector. Be a name and a face. Be helpful and enthusiastic. They’ll help you out because staffing agencies have been saving lives and monthly household budgets like yours in America for 60 years.

Find a staffing agency ASAP. And I’m going to send another note to my senators, Richard Burr and Thom Tillis, with a link to your story. Good luck, and I’m sorry we aren’t doing better by our government workers.

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Everybody’s got a life coach these days.

Not only that, many entrepreneurs and professionals are taking part in mastermind groups. Mastermind groups are very trendy right now. You join a group where you pay a monthly fee, you get on a call or video chat with a bunch of people, and the group holds one another accountable. The head of the mastermind group, typically a life coach, does little coaching. Masterminds are generally peer-to-peer support groups, and it’s really brilliant. If you’re the coach of the mastermind group, you don’t need to put in a whole lot of work.

Mastermind groups can be good for accountability. If you get out of the group what you put in, great. But, do you really need a life coach? My feelings about this topic came to a head while listening to a marketing podcast, when the host said these words, “Everybody needs a life coach.”

I thought, “Whoa, wait. What’s that all about?”

Here’s the thing: I’m not sure everybody really needs a life coach. Everybody needs access to good food and decent healthcare. Further, everybody deserves support, kindness and empathy.

But a life coach?

Sure, athletes have coaches. But for professionals and entrepreneurs, sometimes I think we say life coach when we really mean friends.

Or we say we need a life coach when we really mean therapy.  Everybody can probably use therapy because we don’t go through life unscathed.

No life coach is going to tell you to get quiet and to think about all the hurt and the pain and to go deep and understand why it happened. And you know most therapists can’t get you there because it’s terribly difficult work. It’s the work of a lifetime.

It is impossible for some people to get in touch with fears and patterns and then to connect those fears and patterns to hopes and dreams. But the work is important and the work is valuable.

A life coach won’t help you break free from self-limiting doubts. Maybe they will superficially, but they’re not going to help you break free from doubts, fears and patterns that accumulate over a lifetime.  

The work that most life coaches want to tell you that they can do but can’t do?. That work is solitary. It’s is quiet. It’s crucial. And the work has to be done alone. It’s done by you.

The work of living an authentic life where we are happy with ourselves and treat our bodies and souls with kindness? That doesn’t happen in a mastermind group or with a life coach. It barely happens in therapy. It happens in our hearts.

So the next time somebody tells you that everybody needs a life coach, tell them that the only life coach you need is you.

I can’t say this enough: Be your own life coach and fix what’s broken within yourself in those quiet moments that you would never admit to anybody in a mastermind group or on a Skype phone call. Be your own life coach and do the hard work of fixing yourself in 2019.

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Hey, everybody. Today is my birthday.

If you haven’t heard the details, the rumors are true — I am 44 years old, I have three cats, two sore hips, and one big wish for you to donate to Hustle Up the Hancock in honor of my birthday.

What is Hustle Up the Hancock? It’s actually an event that’s been rebranded as Hustle Chicago. I run up 94 flights of stairs to help fight lung disease. Your donation will go towards advocacy, research and programs to help people breathe easier.

Know someone with COPD? Do you have asthma? Are you struggling to quit smoking? Live in a house with radon? (I hope not!) I run up a skyscraper to help people breathe better, and I would welcome any donation — $5 or a million bucks — to improve the lives of people in Chicago and around the country.

Many of you know this race is important to me. It’s my 7th time up the skyscraper, and I’m running because my sister struggles to quit smoking. I’m also running in memory of my friend, Jenny Stein, who passed away from lung cancer at the age of 41. Science says quitting smoking is harder than quitting heroin, and these jokesters at Juul know it. But here’s the good news: if you can keep a kid smoke-free before they are 21, they probably won’t smoke for the rest of their lives.

So, thanks for all of your love and good wishes on my 44th birthday. Sucks to get older, but the journey is a little less painful when you have a purpose and goals that are bigger than yourself. Every donation on my birthday is special, and I’m also grateful for those of you who aren’t in a position to donate but send good wishes.

Love you all. Appreciate the support!

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I have a post-it note on my desk that says, “Write about resilience.”

It’s there because a friend of mine was catching flack from her friends for having a side hustle. She’s running a business, trying to drum up leads by being a thought leader on social media, and it’s not going over well with the people who love her the most.

“It’s demeaning.”
“It’s beneath you.”
“You’re embarrassing yourself.”
“Why are you always on Facebook?”

People have opinions, and they’re not afraid to share them.

My friend’s experience made me think about my blog and writing career. Not a day goes by when someone doesn’t offer an opinion about my work.

In the early days, the negative comments would bug me. Well, okay, they still bug me. Just recently, a friend told me that what I’m doing — trying to be an un-motivational speaker — is cringeworthy. And a former colleague said to me that my work stories are great but I better never write about him. Oh, and some of you know that my mom says I’m not allowed to write about her except to say that I have a mom and she’s alive.

Nobody loves you or has your best interests at heart like your family and friends, right?

But I’ve developed a thicker skin and some resilience.

Resilience is one of those words thrown around by self-help gurus and motivational speakers to push you when times are tough.

“Life is a marathon, not a sprint, and resilience helps you stay in the race and cross the finish line.”

I hate that analogy, and I speak from my experience as an entrepreneur and marathoner when I tell you that resilience isn’t a major muscle group. It’s not your glutes or your quads, pushing you up a hill when your body is exhausted. Resilience is the quality that gets you started in the first place.

You don’t sign up for life as an entrepreneur — or a speaker, writer, creative thinker, artist, small business owner, coach, consultant, parent, guardian, community leader, volunteer — without demonstrating resiliency. You’ve opted for something other than a comfortable, narrow, self-indulgent life. Congratulations, you’re resilient.

And resilience manifests in your work. Maybe you write, speak, perform, draw, sculpt, cross-stitch, build businesses, coach little league, or even work in HR. If you persist in the small moments when you could cut corners or avoid the work of doing the work, you’re resilient. No grunting required.

Finally, resilience is the ability to take incoming flack without compromising your values. Nobody does anything interesting without making a fool of themselves, first. Maybe your work is cringeworthy. Perhaps you’re embarrassing yourself and, possibly, others around you. Maybe you get it wrong more than you get it right.

But how about this — Maybe your friends are assholes? Maybe your family is jealous? Maybe your colleagues don’t have your best interests at heart?

If you can stand your ground and endure the judgments and jokes, you’re resilient.

It takes a backbone and resilience to say, “I’m sorry you feel that way about my work. What I’m doing is not for you. Don’t look.”

The good news is that it’s possible to be resilient even when it’s been difficult in the past. Everybody can demonstrate resilience on demand and without apology. And resilience is required if you ever want to do anything substantial with your life.

To be resilient in 2019, you must decide what you’re about to tackle is worth more than the collective opinions and ideas of those around you. Are you willing to stop caring about what others think? Willing to depend less on the advice of others and have the courage to redefine relationships, if necessary, to achieve your dreams? Give up the old to have something new and worthwhile?

I’m not sure if you are resilient, but I know my friend has a steel spine and can endure the petty comments and negative feedback from her family members. She’s resilient. And I believe you are, too.

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Ten years ago was my breakout year.

It was 2009, during the Great Recession and well before people were addicted to social media, and I was a rising star in the world of human resources. You’d find me on the news, writing in business journals, or industry events and sharing my opinions on hiring, firing, and a lack of leadership worldwide.

Some people liked me, some people hated me, and some people blackballed me. I went to big events, I went rogue, and I spoke my truth. In the process, I developed a thick skin and learned that it wasn’t about me: it was about moving HR professionals to action.

Ten years later, I’m still out there pushing limits and buttons. A lot has changed about the world of work and HR, but I’m still answering a question that people asked me back in 2009: Can you do that?

Can You Do That?

Can you say no?
Can you say yes?
Can you fix what’s broken?
Can you take action without getting fired?
Can I ask for an outside opinion?
Can I press pause on an uninformed decision?
Can I end a biased practice?
Can you correct injustice?
Can you say what you think?
Can you stand up for employees?
Can you speak truth to power?
Can you write?
Can you speak?
Can you start a movement?
Can you lead when you’re not in a leadership role?

I don’t know if you can do any of those things. Literally, I have no idea if you have the strength of character to make difficult decisions or take risks when there are no guarantees of success. But I think you should try.

How to Have a Breakout Year

My breakout year in 2009 started back in 2004 when I decided that enough was enough and the world of HR — and my life — had to change. I had a big goal of being the most influential key opinion leader in HR, but I started small and worked backward to determine where to start. My blog was the first step, then I moved to industry events, and then I appeared in leading journals and news platforms. Also, I found kindred spirits on the internet who would have my back in real life and nurtured those relationships. Even when I sucked — and especially when I sucked — my friends had my back.

If I could have a breakout year in 2009, you can have a breakout year in 2019. Identify your goals, write them down, make a plan to avoid failure, start small, and loop in your community to support your dreams.

Can you do that?

I don’t know. But I hope so. Life is so much better when you try.

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I always end the year by writing about my accomplishments, failure, regrets, and resolutions. I love this time of year because the calendar naturally moves me to reflect and take action. This post is all about 2019 resolutions.

There are two types of people in this world: people who think there are two types of people, and people who don’t. Me? I think there are two types of people in this world. The first group makes resolutions, and the second group criticizes people who make resolutions.

Resolutions are a decision to do (or not to do) something, and I’m on #TeamResolutions. There are years when I make resolutions to eat better and exercise, which is how I became a vegetarian and a marathoner, and years when I resolve just to make it through the year with no significant life events. 

My most consequential resolution came on New Year’s Eve 2006 when I was on the couch in my jammies and said, “I’ve got to quit my job and do something else with my life.”

The true story of how I quit my job at Pfizer will be in my new book. And that book? Comes from a resolution to write something helpful for people who feel stuck.

Year-end resolutions don’t have to transform your lives, they just have to start you on a better — or different — path. Resolutions don’t have to start on January 1st, either. The new year begins now. Every day is a do-over if you’re looking to change your life.

Me? I have individual goals for my career, my finances, my health and my relationships. And I’m using the Get to Work system to hold myself accountable because a coaching client of mine loves it. We’re going on that journey together.

Since I’m asking you to think about your 2019 resolutions, I’ll share mine. I have two. The first is to stop being detached and conflict-avoidant in my private life and make important decisions even when they cause temporary pain and heartache. My second resolution is to live a less caustic life and surround myself with people who bring out the best in me — personally and professionally — and try to be someone who only brings out the best in my friends and family members. 

We’ll see how all that goes. The first mile is always the hardest.

I hope 2019 is a year of transformation for you, big or small. I am grateful that you still read my blog. And I hope you believe what I understand to be true: Wherever you are, the view can improve in 2019. 

Happy New Year.

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I always end the year by writing about my accomplishments, failure, regrets, and resolutions. I love this time of year because the calendar naturally moves me to reflect and take action. This post is all about 2018 regrets.

Every year, I write that regrets are a waste of time. Everybody makes mistakes, and it’s self-indulgent to focus on errors instead of solutions. Don’t be that person who looks back at the past and focuses on the “what ifs” and “what could have been.” That person is annoying, and, ultimately, never learns his lesson.

But I also realize there are people out there who never feel sadness or repentance over their behavior. That’s not healthy, either.

This year, I behaved in regretful ways. Got mad at the Walgreens drive-thru lady and didn’t use the best tone. Drank too much when I was trying to maintain my straightedge lifestyle. Wished someone a happy 50th birthday who was only turning 49.

Oooops. But I’m not a horrible person, and life continues.

For the first time, I also had middle-aged moments when I saw how decisions I made years ago influenced my life today. The path I didn’t take? The painful decision I tried to avoid? The person I didn’t treat well? Some of it came to roost in 2018, and I felt pangs of regret for not being smarter or braver when I was younger.

But, again, there’s nothing to do except make better choices.

Regret is a trap that paralyzes you from taking action. And the only way to beat the voice in your head is to take action right now and disrupt the negative feedback loop in your mind.

How do you stop focusing on regret? Some say exercise and movement are helpful tools. Service to others will change the conversation in your head, too. Some people are advocates for imagery, meditation, and mindfulness. I believe in talking to people — friends, loved ones, clergy, therapists — who are empathetic and wise. There is comfort in hearing stories where other people make mistakes and thrive.

Regret is a phenomenal waste of time, wasted on people and things that no longer deserve your attention. Behaved in regretful ways? Wish you could’ve made a different decision? Don’t linger. Make amends as best you can and move on.

The key, though, is to make better and more interesting mistakes. That’s what 2019 should be all about for you.

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I always end the year by writing about my accomplishments, failure, regrets, and resolutions. I love this time of year because the calendar naturally moves me to reflect and take action. This post is all about 2018 failure.

I’ve participated in this ritual in some way since 2004, and I generally write about failure in one of three ways.

1. Sometimes it’s chronological and honest.
2. There are times when it’s vague and summarized.
3. More often than not, I wrap up failure in a lesson that’s larger than failure.

You’ll get all of that in 2018.

However, before I write anything, a word: society does its citizens a disservice when it fetishizes failure. While failure is an essential tool for growth, there are smarter and more effective ways to receive an education. Failure as an instrument of teaching — and a vehicle for maturation — is stupid and counterproductive. Everybody fails, but let’s get to the successful part sooner.

I think my biggest failure is that I didn’t do more premortems throughout the year. If you remember, I built a technology platform to help people beat failure called GlitchPath based on the idea of the premortem, but I didn’t use it myself. I went headfirst into projects and relationships with glitches and didn’t ask myself, “How am I about to fail?”

You don’t need technology to minimize failure. You need a minute. A pause. Some self-reflection. The ability to delay gratification long enough to remember how things failed in the past and how you can avoid frustration and disappointment by changing your behaviors in the immediate future.

And even if you take a moment to plan for failure, you might still fail. That’s how life works.

But here’s what I did in 2018: I mostly ignored warning signs. If I paid attention at all, I wanted to transform my future magically and was willing to endure failure as a rite of passage to win an emotional lottery. It was only in the fourth quarter when I started to review my year that I woke up and realized it was time to get to work. I was failing pretty hard, and no amount of wishful thinking could change the facts on the ground.

So, I put pen to paper and wrote down some goals. I’ve got four buckets: health, finance, career, relationships. Then I did a premortem and asked myself, “How am I going to fail?”

Big goals have significant risks. I’ll probably fail to achieve some of my goals for 2019, just like I missed the mark on my life in 2018. But at least I’m back to embracing the premortem, a tool to help me see through the fog and recognize the landscape before me.

Want to beat failure? Try the premortem. I hope it helps you like it continues to assist me. And don’t be too hard on yourself if you fail in 2019. Let’s try to fail in new and more interesting ways, okay?

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People keep asking me for my Omah’s Christmas Snickerdoodle recipe. It’s a holiday staple.

Turns out, she is my ex-boyfriend’s Omah, but these cookies have been in my life since 1991. We’ll always be family.

Here’s the recipe.

Sift together and set aside:
2 1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
2 tsp. cream of tartar
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt

In a large bowl, beat together until light and fluffy with an electric mixer:
1 cup vegetable shortening (Crisco)
1 1/4 cups sugar
Add 2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
Stir in flour mixture slowly.

Combine but keep separate:
2 Tablespoons sugar
1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Roll dough between palms of hands, one tablespoon at a time into round balls [about an inch).
Roll each ball in sugar mixture.
Place 2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheet.
Bake at 400 degrees for 9 minutes until lightly browned. {Do not overbake.]
Remove from pan to cool.

Makes 4 dozen cookies or one big batch of delicious raw cookie dough.

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