My first real race of the season is the Tar Heel 10-Miler. It’s about two months away and always sets the tone for my marathon season.

The race gives me an opportunity to test out my new running skills. Am I faster? Is my form better? Do I have a higher threshold of endurance?

So far, the results are mixed.

I have a difficult time reaching the harmonization of my life, and I treat everything like swim lanes. Work is one lane. My marriage is another. Pilates is one lane. Strength training is another.

My Pilates instructor, Jenna, keeps telling me that I should use everything I know about “everything” to get through life. What do I know about pilates that can get me up a hill? What do I know about running that can get me through a difficult conversation with a vendor? What do I know about push-ups that can keep me calm through a difficult conversation?

I think it’s all about the breath, to be honest with you.

I breathe like a dude at the gym lifting weights. It’s deep — but it comes out in a grunt. Jenna challenges me to breathe in a long, fluid way. Also, she wants me to begin exhaling before I need it.

“It’s not a push or a shove.”

Christ, okay, I got it.

But I don’t … which is why I can’t always do pull-ups or get my hips above my butt when I’m flipping around on a Cadillac. And it’s why my first mile is always the toughest mile when I’m running. Or why I feel like I’m going to black out when I’m mad at someone whom I love dearly.

I need to use everything I know and breathe better in life.

So that’s what I’m working on for the Tar Heel 10-miler. That — and running from my gluteus maximus and not my hips.

When you use everything you know to get through life, you learn faster. You don’t make the same mistakes over and over again. And the struggle is a little easier to endure.

So wish me luck!

(PS — In previous years, this race takes me 1:50 to complete thanks to the brutal bitch that is Laurel Hill. Ugh. This year? My goal is 1:45.)


HUSTLE2015Hello, friends!

I’m about a week away from running up The John Hancock building in Chicago. It’s 94 floors of insanity. My goal (as always) is to beat 20 minutes. I am always slightly short of my goal because I can’t take two steps at a time, but maybe this year will be the year.

I wanted to thank everybody for donating to Respiratory Health Association. Your donations will fund research and programs that enhance the quality of so many people’s lives. The work they do is amazing.

I also want to thank everybody who donated and shared a story of how they’ve been impacted by lung disease. Your stories are meaningful, and I’m honored to run on behalf of your friends and family members.

Finally, if you have a little cash to spare, I would love to reach $3500 by the time I run up those stairs. Please consider donating. This is my final fundraising-related blog post, so any support you could offer would be appreciated.

I don’t have any NPR tote bags, but if I did, they would be yours.

Thanks for your love and support. I’m hustling up these stairs for you.


PS – Follow the event on Twitter by typing in http://search.twitter.com and #hustle2015. You can cheer on all the amazing climbers!


People often ask me clarify what I do for a living.

That’s true, especially after I write a saucy post.

I say, “It’s none of your business. Aren’t you happy just to read my blog?”

No. Everybody wants a little something extra.

Well, regular readers know that I do a few things to keep myself occupied. I write anywhere and everywhere that feels worthwhile. I speak to HR audiences and executives. I consult on marketing projects and HR-related projects. Oh, I forgot that I advise companies as both a strategic coach and an appointed board member, too.

The most ambiguous part of my company is my HR consulting model. While the bulk of my work is doing HR for human resources professionals, it’s not like I am putting together total rewards statements or processing new hire paperwork. I sit in meetings with people who try to make their HR departments better.

Yes, that’s as boring as it sounds.

But optimizing HR is a booming business. I have begun asking colleagues to help me with my work load because, let’s get real, I can only stomach so much cheerleading before I feel uneasy with myself.

People ask — Does this bring you joy? Are you happy?

I’m not joking. One of my dearest blogging colleagues just asked me this. And I was like, “Listen, if we’re going to be friends, you have to stop asking stupid questions.”

What brings me joy is inner peace. Quiet time at home with a good book. Great conversations with dear friends.

And baby goats.

A little slice of heaven. • #goats #babygoats #NC #farm

A photo posted by LFR (@lruettimann) on

Some jobs are aligned with passion and happiness (e.g., being a monk). Some jobs trick you into thinking it’s all about passion (nursing, teaching) and then hit you with rules and nonsense. And some jobs are just jobs that facilitate greater dreams.

That’s what it means to be a human resources consultant.

What would I do if I didn’t have to be a HR consultant? Nothing. I chose this line of work because the money is easy and I am good at it. I like my friends, too. I’m headed to London in two weeks, and I am working on improving my writing skills in my personal time. I got it all figured out.

And I get to snuggle with baby goats.

Maybe the world of HR consulting looks different at Bain, Deloitte or Mercer. From where I sit, it’s a great job with a lot of flexibility and variety. It keeps my mind challenged.

And then I get to make my own schedule, have fun and spend time with baby goats.

Do you see a theme here?

I wonder if you have baby goats in your life. Do you have kids? A passion project? Do you volunteer? Are you involved in something bigger than yourself?

I hope you have an answer because everybody needs some baby goats!


1779724_10153070081626800_1863235899788969817_nJust a few days ago, I mentioned that I’m not a big fan of influence lists. Then a reader sent me a copy of an email where I’m listed as an influential blogger.

It starts out like this.

There are some extremely talented bloggers in the HCM space and we have noticed a few trends: Most have cats, Most have small kids, Most are female, Many have ADD, Most blogs mention their kids or their cats, Most drink a lot

Wow, someone call the lawyer. I wrote this lazy copy back in 2010. I might have a case.

All kidding aside, what makes a talented blogger is one that connects to their audience and one that has a personality. You don’t remember them because they said great things about ORACLE. You remember their cat sitting on their computer or their kids doing something crazy.

I think you have to be funny to put all kidding aside.

Still, these bloggers are very talented. It’s a complicated space with over 40,000 vendors (yep, that’s how many of you get this newsletter) that cover everything from staffing, to leadership, to 401K plans. Although its [sic] hard to be funny writing about 401K plans.

Thank you for bestowing your blessing upon the blogger community despite the fact that you seem to think so little of it. And it’s not that hard to be funny when you write about 401K plans. You just need to know the difference between its and it’s.

What makes these people authentic is that they truly care about the space. Many are recovering HR professionals. They help each other, they contribute to each other’s posts, they collaborate wherever possible, and they meet in bars.

Johnny One-Note is on to something. Bloggers are kind-hearted fools who like to drink.

I like bloggers who make me laugh. Some of my favourites are (in no particular order)

Laurie Ruettimann (Most sarcastic by far, also has the most cats); William Tincup (Swears the most); Jessica Miller-Merrell (PR agency); Meghan M. Biro (Co-host of Tchat); Sue Messinger (Good solid data, ex-CEO of SHRM); China Gorman (Love her Tuesday numbers column); Libby Sartain (Favourite HR Person); Tim Sackett (Good data mostly recruiting); Stacy Donovan Zapar (Consultant); Maren Hogan (PR / Agency)

No particular order? Bullshit. And I like how the people who can do something for the website have nice things written about them. The rest of the people on the list? Well, they can go to hell.

We started investigating into [sic] the impact of Twitter on the HCM space. Some of these bloggers have massive followings (William Tincup @267K is by far the most) and Meghan M. Biro has tweeted 165K times. Those are insane numbers. Do they sleep? Or ever have a meaningful conversation on the phone?

Did you start investing the impact of the twitters while wearing your Encyclopedia Brown hat? Because that’s the only goddamn way to redeem that awful paragraph.

I wish the author would investigate whether or not these men and women run online communities and successful businesses. Do they use social automation tools to be effective entrepreneurs? Why don’t you investigate that and tell us how they do it?

Oh, that’s right. You would have to call and ask permission to use their names, first.


I reached out to the vendor to provide some feedback.

(Guess how that went over?)

Then I reached out to some people on this list who told me not to get my undies in a bunch. One of them quoted George Bernard Shaw.

I learned long ago, never to wrestle with a pig. You get dirty, and besides, the pig likes it.

So what can I do to stay above the fray but stop the stupidity of bad marketing practices in the HR space? Well, I don’t own yachts or online communities, but I will do whatever I can to steer advertising dollars away from this website.

(How will I do that? By being so darn influential, yo! More lists, please!)

I will also work hard to remind marketers that nothing good comes from trying to leverage the brands of hardworking solopreneurs and entrepreneurs without their input. You would sue someone who used your name inappropriately. If you want to use a blogger’s name, remember the immortal words of The Smiths.

Ask me, ask me, ask me.

The first rule of content marketing is to work collaboratively and with good intent. The second rule of content marketing is to hire a good copy editor. And the third rule is to stop mucking around with influence lists in the first place.

You get dirty, and the pig likes it a little too much.



I’m lucky to share the stage with many bright thinkers and consultants who have interesting and compelling things to say about work, money, power and politics. One of my dearest friends is a middle-aged guy with a couple of kids who likes to talk about Millennials, for some reason.

(Seems creepy until I realize that his kids are Millennials. Then it makes sense. We talk about what we love.)

“Let’s face it. Work is changing. Millennials are here, and they aren’t going away. They don’t have an attention span. The youngest among them are borderline digital natives. They barely remember 9/11, and we need to rethink everything — from how we give feedback to how we structure the workday.”

There’s more. So much more. I have heard him speak so many times that I can recite his keynote by heart.

And my colleague is right to think about the changing workforce because Pew Research tells us that, this year, Millennials will overtake Baby Boomers. There are more young people than old people on the planet. Fax machines are a joke. And nobody picks up the phone, anymore.

That’s all fine, but I often remind my friend that more doesn’t mean better — nor is it a platform for change.

  1. We have more gun violence in America, and yet we cannot pass sensible gun reform or require better safety locks on weapons that are kept in millions of homes across America.
  2. We have more people than not with HPV in America — nearly 70% of US adults have the virus — but we cannot convince parents to vaccinate young girls and boys against the virus that causes cervical and throat cancer.
  3. We have more veterans killing themselves than died in combat, and yet we can’t address the prevailing problems of PTSD and mental health in our military.

More doesn’t mean anything other than more.

There are more Millennials than Baby Boomers in America? That’s great. I think “more” can and should prompt questions about efficacy and best practices. Times are changing, and as the world turns, it’s appropriate to question everything.

But when you manage by “more,” you run the risk of excluding the needs of the few. As an HR leader, it’s the smaller population of employees who may need you the most.

There are more men in CEO positions than females. There are more women carrying the burden of housework and full-time jobs than men. Minorities suffer more workplace injuries than majority employees. Aren’t we obligated to question the very construct of “more” to protect and guide the entire workforce?

So, as I tell my colleague, you can have a keynote speech where the audience wants to hear more about Millennials. I want to hear more about HR technology, workforce planning and diversity and inclusion programs that give each worker a fair shake at achieving the dream of creating great work and achieving financial independence.

This includes Millennials and Baby Boomers, but it also includes everybody else.


Last year, a friend confided that his severe adult acne caused depression and anxiety in his 20s and early 30s. He withdrew from social situations, struggled to date, and was never quite sure if his looks were a negative factor while looking for a job.

“Interviewing caused me a ton of anxiety,” he confided in me. “I never knew if they were looking at me or my bad skin.”


People with “good skin” often take their excellent fortune for granted. I never had horrible skin, but I get my own version of redness and acne. My skin improved when I stopped eating fast food and meat. I’m lucky enough to afford spa appointments and laser skin treatments as needed.

Being 40 doesn’t hurt, either.

But “good skin” is a luxury that many can’t afford, and honestly, there’s no such thing as good skin. There is skin. It’s yours. Screw anyone who makes you think you’re not good enough for a job because of the way you look.

If you have acne — severe or not — and want some tips to ace the interview, here are a few simple things gleaned from my experience in HR that will help you to alleviate anxiety.

1. Stop picking. You’re risking an infection. Also, give your face the chance to heal before the big day.

2. Prep like hell. Get yourself primed for an interview by immersing yourself in pre-work. Your awesome answers should be the only thing anyone thinks about after the meeting.

3. Be relentlessly positive. Spend time with people who make you feel good about yourself before the interview. Make a mental list of all of the successful moments in your career. Focus on the love and goodness in your life.

4. Look sharp in other ways. Choose an outfit that makes you feel good about yourself. Wear your favorite suit, dress or shoes.

5. Don’t obsess. Other than a quick glance in the mirror, don’t look at yourself on the day of the interview. If you stop staring in the mirror, you’ll remove a source of torment and pain.

Emotions run high when you’re interviewing for a job. Consider confiding in a counselor, a therapist, a primary care physician, or a friend about your skin if it’s causing you so much stress. You might be shifting your anxieties about your career to your skin. It’s good to understand what’s bothering you, and it’s helpful to talk about the things you can and can’t control.

And it’s also helpful to hear from friends that — just like pooping — adult acne is a fairly universal experience! Everybody poops, and everybody breaks out.

That’s just life!


10955663_792987454126491_8797817843500258682_nI have a rule that I don’t run if it’s 25 degrees Fahrenheit or colder.

I am not built to run in the wintertime. The cold stress is tough on my body. I have trouble speaking and enunciating in cold air. My facial muscles freeze up, and I slur my words together. I sound drunk and hard of hearing, or thanks to my personal life choices combined with my Meniere’s Disease, a little drunker and a little harder of hearing.

It’s not pretty.

This past Saturday, it was 26 degrees. That is abominably cold and brutal, but it’s one degree above my cut off. I am a mentor, and I can’t bail on my team. I hauled my ass out of bed before sunrise and went running six miles with my crew.

You can see in this photo that I’m so concerned about the cold weather, but I’m not wearing a hat. That’s because I didn’t organize my gear the night before. And during the run, my face was so cold that I couldn’t talk. Everything ended in an ARRRR sound or an ESH groan.

But if that’s the worst of my cold weather running blues, I suppose it’s not too bad. And it was nearly 70 degrees on Sunday. I know that spring is on the horizon. Pretty soon I’ll be complaining about the heat and humidity.

But right now, I’m ready for the unseasonably cold weather to leave North Carolina. I want to shed a few layers and talk during my weekly workouts without slurring my words together like Liza Minnelli.


Work-Life-Cats-2My cats don’t know that they’re not the center of the universe.

I like their sense of entitlement. It suits them. I don’t like losers with low self-esteem, either. My cats know that I have one big philosophy in this house: go big or go live in a trailer park with other cats.

So they go big.

Here’s an update.


My oldest cat, Jake, is sick with a lower airway disease that makes it tough for him to breathe. He has ongoing heart issues and degenerative joint disease that makes his limbs shake, too. He’s on some medication for those issues. I was going to have a whole bunch of risky and expensive tests performed to diagnose his illness; however, the emergency room veterinarian told me that the biggest risk is finding out that he’s old. Since we know that, we are treating him with conservative medications and letting nature take its course. It’s a mature and responsible plan. Everybody dies. That’s a bummer to write, but hopefully we’ll get more time out of him!


Molly is fine. Still hates Scrubby. Still loves my husband more than she loves me. Likes me fine when I give her treats, though. Isn’t that how it always works?


Scrubby still pees from time-to-time. Ken and I spend hours debating whether or not he’s happy. Would he like to go live in a feral cat community? Would he like to live in a barn? Then he snuggles up next to me, and I’m like, dang, you’re my favorite. It’s like an abusive relationship. I love him. He pees on Molly’s favorite cat bed. Next he’ll be doing meth and asking me for my paycheck.


Emma is on allergy meds and shots, which is hilarious because I’m on allergy meds and shots. We are both allergic to dust mites, but we only have one major room with carpet in the house. Our bedding is regularly washed in high-end anti-allergen detergent. I vacuum daily, and I bought a Rabbit Air machine on Black Friday. (I have a Honeywell air filter in my bedroom, too.) So who the hell knows what’s up with us. The vet school told me that NC is a tough place for cats and humans with allergies. I am not moving, so we might have to buy a stainless steel house.


My little Roxy girl is awesome. She has tornado-like energy and is learning to jump up onto crazy-high spots in our house. She’s been in the basement rafters. She fell into a bathtub full of lavender epsom salts. Her new thing? She likes to pounce on Scrubby. Luckily, Scrubby is an easy-going cat and doesn’t try to hurt her. If anything, he wants to get away from her bullshit.

So life is a little hectic, but what the hell else am I doing with my time? Some people work for money. Some people work for personal fulfillment. I work for my cats.

I think that’s okay.


423664_3300093979011_1701033883_nI haven’t been to London for about eight months, which is too long.

That’s why I’m headed back for TruLondon15. If you don’t know anything about Tru, it’s an entertaining event where recruiting and HR nerds sit around and talk to themselves about themselves. They discuss how important they are to the entire history of mankind.

I’m not joking, and I include myself with those nerds.

HR is not strategic.

One year, I challenged the group and said that HR and recruiting aren’t strategic functions of the organization. It’s not that human resources leaders don’t think strategically and participate in activities to achieve organizational success; it’s just that they don’t control the “people agenda” of an organization. For this reason, my colleagues in HR and recruiting are merely executing the strategy set forth by board members, officers and functional executives within a corporation.

Whew. People lost it.

I caught a lot of shit about this session, but I was right. Recruiting, staffing and all things HR are an outgrowth of a broader revenue and profit-focused strategy that starts with product and services and then includes labor — and all the nonsense therein — as part of a secondary discussion.

I heard a lot of this:

“Bollocks. If that were the case, Laurie, then why am I so important?”

I don’t know. Are you important? Why are we sitting in a hotel on Brick Lane discussing HR strategy? I have no idea. Doesn’t feel very important to me. Let’s get a curry — the real reason why I’m here — and discuss this a little more.

But the whole exercise was fun, and I saw a ton of personal and professional development in the room. For the first time in maybe a long time, they had to defend themselves — not to the CEO — but to a friendly face.

They did okay, sorta.

But I’m returning to #TruLondon to see if they can do better.

(I’m such an insufferable twat, I know.)

My friend Neil Morrison likes “takeaways” from his conferences. This time, Neil and I will guide the attendees through an exercise to lock down the specific ways HR and recruitment are strategic. We want something that can be published and used to help HR and recruitment professionals articulate the ways in which they add value to an organization.

If we can outline the specific ways to think strategically without waiting for an invitation, we might finally get somewhere. And I would have something to show for my global efforts to break stereotypes and change the face of HR!

See you in London.


My friend Tim is wrapped up in some debate about recruiters and sourcers. When he told me about it, I blacked out int a coma and said, “Maybe we can talk about X-Men vs Justice League or come up with witty #FireflyWouldYouRather tweets when this debate is over.”


I do know that people get a boner talking about the differences between HR, recruiting and sourcing. So let me tell you what it means to be a sourcer.


In the business world, sourcers are “junior recruiters” who don’t talk to people*. They find individuals who are qualified to do a job. That’s about it. Once the sourcer develops some business skills, she is promoted to a recruiter and invited to do grown-up HR work.

(*This is a different model in, like, six companies around the world. Maybe seven.)


In the world of third-party recruiting, some companies hire specialists who can search the web — or prisons, universities and courthouses — and locate highly specific people who have important skills. This is a good job. Really true to the definition of “sourcer.” Very technical. Kind of fun, from what I hear.

So who cares?

I’m part of a weird movement in HR where I think that you don’t work in HR unless you do some recruiting. Identifying and hiring talented people? That’s job number one. And you can’t hire great people if you don’t know how and where to find them. So all HR professionals ought to be sourcers to some extent.

You know who disagrees with me?

Shockingly, nobody in a human resources leadership role. There are specialized sourcers and recruiters who think they’re being insulted when someone says that their work should fall under the umbrella of HR. They work on the outskirts of the regular economy, which gives them the time and luxury of pontificating about HR.

There is a better way.

I always tell my recruiting friends — true recruiters are sourcers. They might not be great sourcers, but you can help. When you share some of your sourcing knowledge and train those poor HR folks, they’ll come to you when they can’t find someone for a tough-to-fill job.

But what do I know? In the pyramid of HR bullshit, I’m just a human resources blogger!

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