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It’s springtime. My husband did a ton of yardwork and trimmed back our azalea bushes. I washed kitchen cabinets and removed dust jackets from my hardcover books, but I need to paint one of our guest bedrooms. We have a million other projects to complete around here, but while I have a few minutes, let me tell you about my social media spring cleaning campaign.

LinkedIn.

First up, you need a new LinkedIn photo. So do I, actually. I’ll work with my friends Kathy Howard and Joanne Maye to lock down a new image. If you don’t have photographers and make-up artists in your lives (and why would you?), go ahead and clean yourself up and find someone in your personal network with a camera and a good eye. You don’t need much. You are beautiful.

Then go clean up your LinkedIn account itself. Make sure there’s enough information to tell your story but not enough for LinkedIn to sell your data over and over again. I like the “name, rank and serial number” approach. Be a minimalist. Leave people wanting more. Prove that you’re a real human being and not a psycho to recruiters without giving away too much information so that they won’t call you.

Facebook.

Jesus, Lord, the Facebook. It’s a beast, isn’t it? I have a new spring goal: only “like” animal and kid-related content. Maybe check in on a few groups. Say “happy birthday” to my friends, get my daily dose of Lil Bub, and then get the heck off. Might I suggest the same?

Twitter.

It’s my go-to social platform, but it’s so noisy. I’m part of the problem. I use Twitter to talk to myself and sort out what I’m thinking, which is why my social profile looks like a schizophrenic retelling of my anxieties. I recently cleaned up my tweets. Dumped everything. You know why? Because sometimes you need a fresh start. Even my funniest tweets weren’t all that funny. And while I’m probably not going to change my behaviors, it’s good to unload.

Instagram.

I follow what I like, ignore what I don’t. Mostly animals, babies and art. That’s the magical trifecta.

The rest.

I’m 41 years old, and I have some pride. I’m not a podcaster or a video blogger. While I want to be loved, I’m already accomplished enough. There is nothing out there for me except dull Donald Trump voters and needless scrutiny. No thanks. I ditched all the extra audio, video and photo apps. My only exception is SwarmApp, so I can humblebrag when I travel.

Working and living human is the new social, which is why my social media spring cleaning campaign has been good for my computer-strained eyes and overwhelmingly exhausted soul. You might want to clean things up, too, before spring cleaning turns into a summer of procrastination.

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If you are using HR software of any kind —  and that includes platforms to process payroll or create weekly schedules at your restaurant — you’re beating the odds.

Most technology never makes it beyond a shaky prototype. There are Universal Forces of Failure™ that doom most technology companies. If it becomes a viable product, that’s because some crazy dude mortgaged his home and bet on a dream. And he got lucky.

Once you get a product to market, it doesn’t mean that it stays viable. Time passes, trends change, and code gets old pretty fast. It’s not long before your “must have HR software” looks a lot like MySpace.

And even if a product is up and running in your office, it doesn’t mean that it isn’t a failure. Micro-failures happen every day, from buggy code to frustrating customer service. HR software companies disappoint and fail customers on a daily basis just by being dicks.

So this is all to say that when HR ladies tell me that software sucks and is boring, it is an entirely accurate and valid perspective. But these products are also a testament to human endurance. They represent a miracle. If an HR technologist can get a product to market and have more than a couple of hundred users — and nobody at the company has murdered one another, by the way — it’s a success story.

The next time your HR technology lets you down, be amazed that it exists in the first place. Then capitalize on the opportunity to demonstrate great leadership. Recognize the tens of thousands of hours that are invested in the code. Think about the hopes and dreams of the founders and the initial team of designers and developers. Put faces on your frustration.

Do you think they want to disappoint you? Heck no. They’re human.

Then pick up the phone, get the founder or someone of importance on the line, and give practical and specific feedback. Help more HR technology companies improve their products and delivery and beat the odds. The entire marketplace will be better if you partner with your HR technology vendor and help them beat the universal forces of failure.

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joyThere’s a new movement you need to know about: joy at work.

That’s right. The latest trend is to nag you into finding some joy in your job.

Not happiness. Not passion. Joy.

And if you find joy, at least a little, things are going to be okay.

I don’t hate the idea of finding joy at work even though some Silicon Valley brogrammer thinks he invented it. You can’t walk around all moody and depressed because, frankly, that’s my job. I own the market on being cynical and jaded.

Finding joy at the office isn’t about finding your calling or living your life’s mission. It is about the little things that hopefully add up and make your day tolerable. A healthy lunch, a funny anecdote, a customer who isn’t rude, a client who offers public praise.

Find moments of joy. Savor them. Then get ready for the walls to close in and chaos to ensue. After all, it’s still work. You’re not being paid to feel joy, you’re being paid to solve problems and put out fires.

Try to find some joy, anyway.

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I’m routinely approached by writers who are interested in starting a self-help blog or writing a self-help book. I have toyed with the idea of writing a career advice book many times, too. I keep abandoning the project based on what I know, which is why I’d like to share my insights on self-help with you.

The first principle of offering advice is simple: nobody cares about your story.

Readers only care about how your story makes them feel about themselves. Too many of us believe that the formula for a self-help book looks like this: here are my mistakes + here are my lessons learned = you, too, can avoid failure.

That formula (M+L=AF) is a myth.

The real formula is much more complicated. The writer must present a universal truth in the form of a story. The story must be relatable and allow the reader to see how we all make the same mistakes. And the writer must show us that you can overcome adversity. There’s no shame in fucking up.

That’s it. Successful self-help books de-stigmatize shame.

Here’s the second principle for writing a self-help book or blog: your advice isn’t valid unless you’ve truly learned from your mistakes.

How do you know that you’ve learned from your mistakes? That’s an excellent question that only you can answer for yourself. I would tell you that great writers are patient listeners. If you jump into conversations and over-emote when someone shares a story similar to yours, your wounds are still fresh. You aren’t ready to publish.

The third principle comes from Elizabeth Gilbert.

It’s from her latest book, which all aspiring self-help writers should read. Gilbert tells her readers to write self-help books because they need to tell a story, not because they want to impart wisdom on others. In that spirit, the self-help author is just like every other goddamn writer from the poet to the novelist: you must be driven to tell a good story.

Do you have a good story? Do you have a series of stories that lead up to an overarching thesis? Get yourself to a writing workshop and get to work.

So what I’m saying is that the world doesn’t need another self-help book or blog.

Personally, I don’t want to read about the fifteen lessons you learned by overcoming an eating disorder or enduring sexual abuse. The universe isn’t asking for a list of ways to launch a successful business, especially from a guy who made it rich in the dot-com boom of the late 1990s.

The world wants stories.

Dirty, humble, truthful stories told with integrity. Stories that lead us down a path to greater personal awareness. Help me overcome my sense of guilt and shame by exposing your own, and you’ve got a reader for life.

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Do you feel like nobody listens to you at work? Sometimes they don’t. Important conversations never happen. Great ideas are disregarded. People are overlooked and ignored.

If you’re talking but nobody is listening, here are some things you can do.

  1. Stop talking. It’s okay to go quiet when you’re not being heard.
  2. Ask someone to speak for you. Enlist an advocate or an ambassador. I’s a solid strategy when you’re trying to make an important point.
  3. Say it a different way. Evaluate your delivery. Maybe you need a voice coach. Maybe you need to change your body language.
  4. Write it out. Perhaps you need to revise your message or choose different words.
  5. Talk to a new audience. Find someone with a fresh outlook and ask for an unbiased opinion.
  6. Find a mentor. You’re not alone in this world. Plenty of people would love to help.
  7. Read the room. Understand the political environment in which you operate.
  8. Take a break. Maybe nobody is listening because the time isn’t right.
  9. Act on your ideas. If nobody is listening, they might hear you when they see your level of dedication.
  10. Invest your energy elsewhere. Someone else is waiting for you to be brilliant. Find that person or company.
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self-handicapping

I am guilty of self-handicapping. I don’t want to try too hard or raise expectations too much. I want people to think I’m smart and accomplished. If I fail, I will look dumb.

Knowing this about myself, I am always on the lookout to try new things. I want to push myself in new directions. If I fail, and I almost always fail, I try not to feel too ashamed. I want to learn something from the overall experience.

To some people, I look brave. To others, I seem like a dilettante. But you can’t live an exciting life if you’re carefully crafting your personal brand to appease an audience that probably isn’t thinking much about you in the first place. Self-handicapping makes you lame.

So when I want to attempt something new but I’m super-cynical and pretty sure I will fail, I engage in thought-experiment called “prefactual thinking” and consider my options.

* I try not to get too caught up in my anxiety
* I imagine all possible outcomes
* I don’t value the positive scenarios over the negative (or vice versa)
* I list all of the various situations and see what I’ve got

Do I want to open an art gallery? Do I want to take golf lessons? Would I be interested in speaking about leadership at a pre-conference workshop at the 2016 National Truck & Step Van Driving Championships? Would I accept sponsored content from Gun Owners of America, the only no-compromise gun lobby in Washington according to Ron Paul?

I don’t know. Let’s play this out without being too optimistic or pessimistic.

A lot of people it will tell you that you don’t know what you don’t know. For example, you’ll never understand what it’s like to be married until you’ve been married. And that’s correct to some extent, but it’s also wildly inaccurate. Smart people can guess that marriage is hard and won’t work if you have a history of being an insensitive jerk. Are you an insensitive jerk? When looking at your options for relationships, maybe don’t get married.

Prefactual thinking requires you to be self-aware and honest, so it’s not for everyone. And sometimes I ignore certain outcomes and choose what I want to choose. The heart wants what the heart wants, and sometimes the heart wants me to be crazy and learn lessons the hard way.

But you should give this a go.

Do you have decisions to make? If you like paper, get a Moleskin or a legal pad. If you like your phone, use voice-to-text and take notes. Think through the possible outcomes of your decision, one at a time, without comment or judgment.

Then sit with those different results and ask yourself — am I honest? Have I looked at all the different outcomes? Is this true? What are my blind spots and how have they impacted this list?

If you can make it work, don’t be lame. Take a risk and say yes to whatever it is you’re considering. Failure won’t kill you, and self-handicapping is no way to live life.

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radical candorOne of the biggest trends in HR right now is radical candor.

Have you heard this phrase?

According to Kim Scott, radical candor is the moral obligation of managers to care for each team member personally and challenge ’em to grow. Managers must provide feedback that is humble, helpful, immediate, and in person. If you’re offering criticism, do it privately. If it’s praise, speak publicly.

And if you can’t do any of it because you don’t have time, Scott advises you to be an asshole.

Now, hey, don’t go out of your way to be an asshole. Please. It’s important to remember that you are trying to create an environment where you give good guidance because it’s your job and your obligation.

But you are allowed to be an asshole if you care about your colleagues but struggle to deliver important and candid messages. Being an asshole is better than being obnoxious, cruel, or (my favorite) ruinously empathetic.

Watch the video to learn more.

If you work in HR, radical candor can improve your interactions at work and help you stay in touch with your organization’s health. It shows that you care, by the way, which matters in the world of human resources and recruiting.

But don’t start being radically candid out of nowhere. It might help to show people Kim Scott’s video and let them know that you’re following a new trend called “radical candor.” As you learn, teach. And remember that candor isn’t necessarily about being direct and negative. Be honest, but don’t be personal.

And one more thing: HR professionals should note that radical candor is subjective. You can’t get away with being an asshole if nobody believes you care. In far too many organizations, the HR department is already full of assholes. Don’t be radically candid and a disengaged HR lady at the same time.

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Hey, everybody. I’m just back from Istanbul. It was my second trip. There is no terror in Turkey more terrifying than two American women walking the streets alone and having fun.

I arrived on Saturday afternoon. Jennifer was delayed. I spent the afternoon and evening wandering around — mostly being a tourist and eating. I took a lot of photos of cats. I don’t know. I was tired.

Sunday was a good day. I walked around the outdoor markets near Mısır Çarşısı and stayed awake by taking a Bosporus river cruise. There’s an open-air boat that takes you around for $4 — no stops. Jennifer finally arrived without luggage, and we made our way through the  Sultanahmet neighborhood. My great mistake was wearing my blonde hair long and greasy, which is apparently how tiny Turkish men like it.

(If they were under 5’3″ and standing in front of a restaurant, they wanted a piece of my action.)

Monday was also pretty fun. I woke up and went to a Turkish bath, where a Bulgarian woman scrubbed me raw. Then Jennifer and I wandered through the crowded streets of the neighborhood behind Istanbul University, and I had a level 2 panic attack. The roads were crowded, I was hot, and I couldn’t see anything. When I feel restricted, I start to panic. Anyone who’s ever traveled with me has endured this nonsense, which is why I prefer to spend 99% of my time alone. Jennifer loves me, though, and endured my idiosyncracies.

I pulled it together, and we walked across the Galata Bridge and up to the Galata Tower for lunch. Then we visited Istiklal Street to see where the bomb went off, last month. There were no signs of a terrorist attack. No vigils. No balloons. No teddy bears. We ended up at Taksim Square, which is sketchy, and took a taxi back to the hotel. Our taxi driver tried to rip us off. He escaped with a total of $14 US. This is why America wins, by the way. If you’re going to cheat people, think bigger.

Later that night, Jen went to the Asia-side of Istanbul for work. I met my friend, Zeynep, at a local teashop in Karaköy. We had a great time catching up. She is a friend for life.

Tuesday was our final day in Istanbul. After Jen had wrapped up her conference, we went to the Aya Sofia (also known as Hagia Sophia). Then we wandered around the Eminönü district of Istanbul where I tried to haggle with a merchant and failed. Then went to Gülhane Park and saw a lovely tulip festival. We decided to take an Uber to Yıldız Park but only got as far as Dolmabahce Palace before we had to get out and walk. Istanbul traffic sucks, but we learned that you can order Uber Boat. We’re doing that, next time!

Tuesday evening was lovely, as well. We had dinner at Lokanta Maya with a family member of mine who is studying in Istanbul. The food was awesome. Then Jennifer and I had some drinks in Karaköy because we are adults on vacation in a Muslim country, and that seemed right. A perfect way to end the evening, right?

I owed Jennifer a night on the town for enduring my panic attack, so I volunteered to walk back to our hotel (her preference) instead of taking another Uber (my preference). Our hotel was forty-five minutes away from Karaköy, and it was cold outside, but I wanted to give my boo a good experience.

As we were walking back, some tiny Turkish dude followed us in his car. We waved him off. But up ahead on the narrow streets of Sultanahmet, we turned the corner, and he was standing there waiting for us.

“Group sex?”

I screamed, “Never.”

Jennifer said something to scare him off — although I don’t remember what. Then she began a long and winding critique of his personal brand and positioning statement. Does that work with other women? What’s his success rate? What did he think he would accomplish? Where would we go? Does he like cats?

She rolls with this stuff. Way better than I do. Jennifer sees the humanity in people, and she laughs at the absurdity of crazy situations. I’m wound tight. I can understand why some countries limit gun ownership. Had I been carrying a Kalashnikov, or even a stick, these men would be dead.

So I would rate this entire trip as one of our more exciting excursions. We ate like champs, and the best thing I had is a tie: it was either the hot goat cheese with caramelized onions or garlic butter button mushrooms. We also ate our weight in cheese. Our hotel was great, the excursions were fun, and we made many lasting memories.

But it still felt incredible to get home.

HR and tourism with Jennifer McClure

Posted by Laurie Ruettimann on Friday, April 8, 2016

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Hi, everybody. I’m back from my crazy trip to Istanbul via London. I had a great time, but I’m exhausted. I went with my friend, Jennifer McClure. We have so many absurd stories that I’ll share next week.

But right now I wanted to tell you that Jennifer is reading Thrive by Arianna Huffington. Have you read it? I haven’t, but it looks good. I know this because the book was on her bedside table as I was rummaging through her stuff, and I read the jacket.

Jennifer is a busy speaker who travels, and Arianna’s book speaks to people who are driven to succeed and struggle to find balance. A healthy business requires a healthy lifestyle, and I can tell you that it’s not easy to make good choices about rest and nutrition when you’re knocked over by work.

Arianna spoke at last year’s WorkHuman event, and she had interesting things to say about how HR can add value by slowing things down and asking our leaders to be more mindful when it comes to behaviors and attitudes in the workplace.

So Jennifer’s nighttime reading reminded me to tell you about WorkHuman 2016. My friends at Globoforce host a conference about the future of work. This year’s keynote speaker is Amy Cuddy, and she has a book called Presence. I haven’t read it, yet. Maybe Jen can leave that book on her nightstand on our next trip so I can look at it.

So I’m excited to attend WorkHuman. Full disclosure: they pay me to do behind-the-scenes marketing, but I’m happy to go above and beyond my contract because the conference was personally valuable in 2015. That’s not something I say lightly.

I have high expectations for WorkHuman 2016, and yes, I have a discount code for you. It’s WH16LR300, and I would love to see you there.

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