Have you heard the phrase ‘trigger warning’?

Per the internet, it’s a statement at the beginning of a piece of writing, video, etc., alerting the reader or viewer to the fact that it contains potentially distressing material. The warning is meant to help people — such as those with post-traumatic stress disorder — make a choice about what they’re about to witness.

I feel like the documentary Tony Robbins: I Am Not Your Guru should come with a trigger warning.

If you don’t know anything about Tony Robbins, he’s a self-help guru who encourages people to achieve breakthroughs — whatever the heck that means. His movie highlights a week-long personal improvement seminar where severely broken people try to change their lives.

And it was tough to watch.

Right from the beginning, we learn that Robbins charges $5,000 per person for this event. There were 2500 attendees, and many told harrowing personal stories of physical abuse, sexual assault and even living in a cult.

I was overcome by the sheer sadness of the documentary. Honestly, it knocked me back on my ass. I saw how people would give anything to unburden themselves from the pain of humanity, and all I kept thinking is that the biggest breakthroughs in life don’t come from seminars and programs. They come from deep, quiet, private, thoughtful work that takes more than six days.

Not that a weeklong Tony Robbins course isn’t helpful. Sorta. Maybe. 

From mindfulness to purpose, he’s offering a crash course in resiliency and project management. I can see why business leaders and celebrities love him. And if you’re a smart person with the means to attend one of these courses, you’ll probably come away with tools and tips to begin a journey.

But, oh man, it’s a journey.

And when Tony Robbins tells his audience that he knows human behavior and pain — and we fucking know that he fucking knows it, according to his own language — I want to counter by asking, “So what?”

Because knowing something on an intellectual level is different than understanding it at a profound level and being able to affect change.

And, just like Tony Robbins, I know people. I fucking know people. While a roadmap and a six-day seminar can be helpful in breaking through some pain and achieving an increase in your life on an incremental level, his approach feels reckless and uninformed. 

I truly worry about some of the attendees who are shown in film. I worry about those who show up at one of his seminars feeling suicidal or trying to overcome the psychological impact of sexual and physical abuse. A week-long workshop with Tony could be helpful, but it looks pretty dangerous. 

When someone slaps a “buyer beware” sign on his product and tells you that he’s not your guru, you should believe him. Whatever you’re looking for, keep looking.


Lifetime Fitness It’s hot in America. Too damn hot. Wildfires are flaring up, asphalt is buckling, and I’m over here trying to figure out ways to beat the heat and train for my GDMF-ing marathon.

Not gonna happen.

Since I pay a monthly fee to Lifetime Fitness, which should be considered a charitable donation, I decided to do my weekly “long run” on a treadmill.

That’s right. I ran for two hours and twenty minutes on a treadmill.

Let me tell you what: it was pretty awful.

I tried to make things easier and break the run into four stages so that I could hydrate and eat something. Didn’t help. I wasn’t going that fast, but the air conditioning could not keep me fresh and clean.

When I finished running, I had salt streaks on my face and a rank body odor. Normally I’m hanging out with other nasty runners, and we cancel our smells out. That’s science. But with Lifetime’s air conditioning and a gentle breeze from overhead fans? Yeah, didn’t do much for my sweatiness. I pretty much infected an entire row of treadmills with my funk.

After my run, I tried to clean up as much as possible. Then I realized I would have a hypoglycemic anxiety attack if I tried to drive home without eating. So I went to the cafeteria and ordered a veggie burger, and I noticed that people kept a healthy distance from me.

I was the most disgusting thing in Raleigh since Donald Trump’s last campaign stop here.

This isn’t my first rodeo, and I’m not put off by an awkward and smelly run. But I’m pretty sure that running the Chicago Marathon in October will be easier than running double-digits on a treadmill.

But thank god for Lifetime Fitness. Boy, it’s hot outside!


My friends are bad with computers.

It’s interesting because they are the earliest adopters of social media and blogging. They’re not just early adopters in the human resources industry. They’re among the earliest adopters in the world.

But they just don’t do computers. That’s fine. Leave the infrastructure stuff to the experts. 

Unfortunately, they are currently hosting their blogs on some two-bit server in another friend’s basement. And the friend with the server? He’s awesome, but he’s not an IT help desk. He’s got a life.

So my friends need some help moving their blogs to new hosts and doing some routine maintenance. But they’re like, yeah, we’d rather complain than pay someone to fix this for us.

That stops today.

America’s big sister is swooping in to do a job search. I’m now “hiring” someone for myself — reporting to me — who will be an IT/blogging resource to the HR community. And while it won’t be free, it will be a good price because this is not an expensive proposition and we can do this.

So let me know if you’re a web generalist (everybody’s favorite!) who can move blogs, set my friends up with hosting, and provide regular web support. Maybe do a new WordPress theme. Link all that shit to social. You know the drill.

The contact form is below. I’d like to know what you’d charge each blogger for set-up and ongoing support. And please tell me why you’re awesome and/or capable. I’d like to know.

I’ll respond to serious applications within 24 hours.

Thanks for your interest.


Hi, everybody.

Today is the big day. I’m addressing the graduates of Regent’s University London. I’m excited about my speech. There are almost 200 graduates and about 700 people will attend the ceremony.

Due to time constraints — and faculty who want to wrap this up quickly — my designated time has been reduced considerably. I’m now tasked with being brief, inspirational, and encouraging. The goal? Get these graduates to sign up for the alumni association!

Quite different than the original plan. But I’m honored and humbled to be asked to speak in any capacity.

I thought I’d provide a copy of my original speech as it was written. It takes about ten minutes to say aloud, and I know this because I’ve practiced this speech 17,000 times.

The shorter version will hit the highlights and be just as fun — but brief. And you can follow me on Twitter (or Jennifer McClure) if you’d like to see photos and highlights of the trip.

Wish me luck.



sarah white brennanToday is Sarah Brennan’s birthday.

You’re like — who the hell is Sarah Brennan?

I’m like — she’s Sarah White, but she’s got a new last name in late 2014 because she married a dude named Jake.

You’re like — I still don’t know her. Is she new?

No, Sarah Brennan is not new. We met at an HR technology conference before anybody knew anything about social media, and we became fast friends.

I like Sarah because she has a ton of empathy — for HR professionals, for executives, and for anybody who’s ever had to use really bad work-related technology.

Sarah is very practical. In her world, stuff doesn’t have to be so hard. The world of work is full of enough drama and hassle. Let’s try to make work less difficult, okay?

I’ve seen Sarah speak at a few events, and she’s totally relatable. She lives near Milwaukee and talks about the pressure (and joy) of being a working mom. She knows how to prioritize issues in her life, and she wants to make sure that HR professionals and recruiters are sensitive to the needs of applicants, candidates, and employees.

I also love being friends with Sarah because she keeps it simple and very real. She’s not telling me what I want to hear unless I tell her, “Please tell me what I want to hear.”

I seek her advice on all sorts of important issues. Should I cut my hair? No, because you’ll just complain about it. Do I want to speak at another HR conference this year? No, you are burned out and you want to stay home with your husband and cats. Should I believe in unicorns? No, unicorns aren’t real.

I’m a piece of work, and I appreciate how Sarah is like — You’re being a piece of work and maybe you should step away from the internet and go to Target for awhile.

It’s a pretty good friendship peppered with discussions about HR technology and celebrity gossip. You should be so lucky in your lives to find someone like Sarah!

So let’s all wish Sarah (White) Brennan a happy birthday. She’s no longer on Facebook and doesn’t do very much social media, anymore, but we can make her feel loved by sending out a tweet.

And let’s never forget her sage advice: don’t cut your bangs!


no excusesI spent the first thirty years of my life making a lot of excuses about my job, my wellness, my mental health, and the overall state of my life.

Some of those excuses were true. Many were lies I told myself.

Those days aren’t entirely over. I’m full of shit and lazy on countless occasions. But I’m also fully aware that I’m wholly accountable for all experiences in my life. From missed workouts to missed opportunities to be kind, it’s all on me.

So here I am, in the dog days of summer, unapologetically making excuses about why I don’t want to wake up and run.

The list is long. It’s hot out. I’m sore. It’s also rainy. I’m really effing tired. My hormones are off. I’m either having my period, just had my period, or about to get my period.

Nothing but excuses, some of which are valid.

But here’s the thing: I make excuses, but I don’t quit. I actually enjoy complaining, which is an awful character flaw, but it’s mine. Then I get my ass out of bed and do whatever needs to be done.

So I’m sticking to my program, dodging summer thunderstorms, managing my period, and waking up at 4:45 AM to work out 4x/week. And I’m whining about it.

With thirteen weeks left until the Chicago Marathon, this is my strategy. I will hate every moment of this until it’s over, and then I’ll look back on it fondly. And I’ll probably have my period for the entire length of my marathon training. Let’s all just get used to it, okay?


I know I’m running because I’m spending money.

My newest purchase? This PEET dryer for my shoes. Oh my god, my friend Sara told me about it and she’s right: it’s a game changer. My shoes smell better and less moldy already.

shoe dryer

(Yes, moldy. It’s hot down here in the summer.)

I also single-white-femaled Sara and bought her running watch, too. My old watch had about a two-hour battery life. This one syncs with the training app used with my coach, but it doesn’t sync with the equipment at Lifetime Fitness.

I’m happy with it, though.

tomtom watch

As I start to increase my mileage, I’ll probably start to increase my spending. Honestly, it’s a privilege to have the time and money to train for another marathon. Sure, it’s free to run. You can do a race without the gadgets and the additional training. But I haven’t found a way to run 26.2 miles without spending money on entry fees, clothing and other miscellaneous items.

(This is why I’m still doing webinars!)

I may regret some of the crappy stuff I buy, but I’m never going to regret this shoe dryer.

It’s that great. 


I have attended SHRM’s annual conference since 2008, but I’m sitting this year out.

The one thing I love about the event is that I make enduring “SHRM memories.” I thought I’d share some of them with you.

Chicago 2008.

I applied for a press pass and was accepted as one of the first bloggers to attend SHRM. Why does it matter that I was first? It doesn’t. At all. Except I owned the SHRM social media properties and Sue Meisinger was on leave. I couldn’t find anybody interested in taking them back. (For free! With no obligations!) I even went to the booth where they gave out those conference badge ribbons and said, “My name is Laurie Ruettimann. I own the SHRM YouTubes and Twitters. Do you know if there’s someone I can talk to?” I remember eating cookies at a booth and seeing Stedman Graham. Those were weird times.

Clothing memory: I wore my old Pfizer HR lady clothes and tried to keep a low profile.

New Orleans 2009.

SHRM wanted to give back to the residents of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, so they scheduled the annual HR conference in one of the hottest and dampest months of the year. I remember being on a panel moderated by China Gorman. We talked about social media and HR because it was new. I hung out with all the old school HR bloggers for the first time. It was sweet and innocent fun.

Clothing memory: There was a tweet-up, and I wore a DVF wrap dress. This is before Instagram, and there are photos of that night that I’ve never seen.

San Diego 2010.

It’s the year when I first spoke to students at SHRM. My back was sore. I had the worst posture and decided to take pilates after Matt Stollak laughed at how I was standing. Mary Ellen Slayter hosted a great dinner. (She always hosted great dinners.) Mark Stelzner and I bonded over being permanently sweaty. I met Tim Sackett’s wife for the first time on the rooftop of The Hard Rock Hotel. I also made a very popular video that defined the modern HR lady: tan — with a french manicure — and clutching a Coach purse. I regret that video. It’s not cool to talk about how people look. I was an idiot.

Clothing memory: I wore an olive jacket. I loved it. I’ve kept an olive military jacket in my closet ever since that conference. It’s a simple but important staple in my wardrobe.

Las Vegas 2011.

It was probably peak SHRM for me. I roomed with Jennifer McClure, who went to a private dinner with Mario Batali and gave me a signed cookbook. We had a huge suite at The Wynn. Some crappy vendor gave me an oil painting as a piece of swag. I jumped off the Stratosphere. (Lance videotaped it.) There was a late night at a club where Maren Hogan’s purse was stolen. I had Redbull and vodka for the first and last time.

Clothing memory: I wore a dark gray suit and looked like a real estate agent. I was growing out my hair and it looked like a mullet.

Atlanta 2012.

If you ever want to lose weight quickly, go to Atlanta in June and wear business casual clothing. Synthetic blends work best for maximizing your sweat. This conference was gross. The one bright spot? I worked for a company that straight-up organized one of the dirtiest parties in the history of HR conferences. I’d like to say that I’m not proud of myself, but I’m extremely proud of myself. That event made me into a badass marketing professional who knows how to give people what they want: alcohol and a good time.

Clothing memory: I kept it simple due to the heat. At the end of the conference, I gave up on my appearance. It was so hot. I wore an Eddie Bauer shirt and looked like a camp counselor. It’s immortalized forever in a shot with John Nykolaiszyn.

Chicago 2013.

Chicago is my hometown and where my SHRM conference journey began. I spoke to students and told them not to major in HR, which pissed off everybody at SHRM. I roomed with Jennifer McClure, and we had our hair and make-up done at Elizabeth Arden. They are my go-to spa on the road. I remember hanging out with Mary Faulkner and also falling in love. I ran into Sara and Andy Headworth. At some point, a bunch of us went to the Sprinkles ATM and had cupcakes. Good fun.

Clothing memory: On the first day of the conference, I wore a white dress and had lipstick on my teeth.

Orlando 2014.

We’ve reached the denouement. If I’m honest, the conference wasn’t all that great. I had a very drunk HR executive try to hug me without proper control of his motor skills. The story doesn’t end well. His PR team later apologized to me for his behavior. Sometimes you outgrow the things you love.

Clothing memory: I wore a Michael Kors dress, and Jennifer McClure taught me how to pose like a sorority girl.

Las Vegas 2015.

I decided not to attend SHRM, but I had meetings and client obligations. A bunch of old-school HR blogger friends managed to have a nice reunion at The Chandelier Bar at the Cosmopolitan Hotel. We saw a woman descend a staircase while not wearing any underwear. Not sure if she worked in HR. My friend Fishdogs ordered Sazeracs for everybody. I tried to connect with my friend Matt Kaiser who lives in Singapore. We never connect. Every year. Drives me crazy.

Clothing memory: I wore a blue dress, white sweater, and flats. Sometimes dressing up is fun.

Those are my best SHRM memories. While I’ll miss everybody at the 2016 conference, I’m going to the beach and spending time at home with my family. Hope you get lots of photos, and make good choices!



My cats are all about monkey-see-monkey-do.

  1. Roxy observed how my cats liked to sit on our porch furniture. She went ahead and claimed a spot — just like the big kids.
  2. Roxy likes to poop at a particular time of day. Now Jake wants to poop at that same time.
  3. Emma uses the scratching post before she eats her noshes, and now Roxy does her nails before dinner.
  4. Molly loves treats, and so Roxy loves treats. Do those treats taste good? Who knows!

It’s a constant cycle of écoute et répète in my life, and it’s delightful. My house is a tiny ecosystem, and feline behavior is contagious.

I see the same pattern in the HR ecosystem, too. Just a few weeks ago, Jennifer McClure wrote a blog post about the five things that speakers shouldn’t do on stage. I promoted the hell out of the post. I shared it broadly across all of my social channels.

Then I blindly wrote an article with a similar title and theme. Seriously. I had no idea that I was mimicking her. A week later, I realized that I was a copycat! 

My only comfort is that there is no new art. Nobody is coming up with groundbreaking theories on how to change anything. Most of us in the world are reading the same websites and watching the same TV shows. Our politics may differ, but our news sources are consistent.

So if you ever feel like someone is copying you, they probably are. And you’re probably copying them, especially if you’re writing about the Microsoft acquisition of LinkedIn. And Roxy is definitely copying Emma, who copied my dearly departed Scrubby, who copied Molly, who copied Jake, who copied my dead cat named Lucy.

Our lives are smaller than we think, and our ideas aren’t as unique as we believe. For all of our unique capabilities and interests, most of us are influenced in subtle and not-so-subtle ways by homogenized sources of media and art.

Instead of worrying about mimicry, I choose to celebrate influence. Thanks for influencing me. I hope I influence you, too.

Now let’s get back to watching my cats mimic one another. 


beachNow that it’s summertime, I’m back at the beach.

From now until Labor Day, I’ll be at the beach at least once a week. I’ll wake up at the crack of dawn, drive to the ocean, fall asleep, read, eat some snacks, and then drive home in time for dinner.

We had some weather, so my weekly beach outings for Summer 2016 were delayed. I finally made it out, last week, and it was magnificent. I read The Vegetarian (it was good) and played Letterpress (I’m bad at it). I worked on my commencement speech. I took some hardcore naps.

No social media. No HR blogging. No stress. The whole thing cost me a half-tank of gas and whatever I spent on pink lemonade and a grilled cheese sandwich at the local restaurant.

So many of my friends and colleagues are walking around with permanent scowls and tense shoulders, and it’s tough to watch them suffer. One of the reasons why I’m not attending the annual SHRM conference, next week, is because it’s cringeworthy to see unhappy people come together and clamor for happiness like it’s beyond their reach and in limited supply.

Only you can bring yourself happiness. The restrictions on happiness are yours. And as the world has shown us, our time is limited. We need to make better choices with our time and attention.

So I wonder what you’re doing to achieve balance in your life. If you’re not doing something, what’s holding you back? You don’t have to take a weekly trip to make time for yourself. There are lots of options in this world. But you need a little courage, or rather, encouragement.

Get to the beach!

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