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I remember being single for a hot minute in my 20s.

Everyone at work assumed that I had time (and emotional bandwidth) to stay at work, listen to their problems, and step in on projects when their lives were overwhelming. I didn’t have a husband or kids. Who needed me more than my co-workers?

Plus there was this whole thing like—Hey, you say that you want to earn more money. Why can’t you stay until 7PM, every night?

Does this sound familiar to you?

Well, I was motivated to earn more money. I was paying off a ton of student loan debt. My mom was always sick. My dad was unemployed. One of my brothers was in college, which presents its own challenges for first-generation students who don’t have mentors or family members who can lend advice. My sister was living with her father, and that wasn’t particularly ideal for many reasons. And my youngest brother was just a kid who needed love and attention. Then my other cousin moved in with me for several months because she needed some help.

Because I was trying to establish my career but also attend to the needs of my fractured family, I didn’t do anything very well. And how the hell was I supposed to find time to date?!

Probably the smartest thing I ever did in my 20s was go home and leave work at work. I remember sitting on the couch with my old cat, Lucy, and praising the powers of Baby Jesus and Ganesha that she couldn’t talk. If I had to listen to one more person complain about work—or go one one more date where some guy wasted my time by explaining to me what happened on 9/11 and why George Bush was the greatest president ever—I was going to have an Ashley Judd meltdown.

The assumption that I could stay late at work and tackle projects—as a means to pay my dues in HR and because I didn’t have a husband or kids—was a cruel joke.

It’s human resources. If we don’t demand work-life balance, what chance does the rest of the organization have?

So the next time you feel like you’re drowning at work—and you assume that a young professional without a family can help you out—make sure you consider your past behaviors. To have good friends, you need to be a good friend. To have work-life balance, you have to offer balance to others.

And the “others” includes young workers, single people, and those who have alternative family structures that don’t look like yours.

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I just told you that I don’t like surprises. I had the surprise of my life this past Friday when I realized that my half-marathon training was a week off.

Instead of running on June 13th, I would need to run a half marathon on June 6th. I found out via Facebook from my friend who was also running the race. Look at his photo. Then look at my comment.

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There was like a five-minute gap between when I left a comment and when I thought—hold on, do I have my dates wrong?

(Oops! Thank god for Facebook.)

I grabbed my mobile and looked up the event. (It’s called Race 131.) When I realized my mistake, I had a f-king meltdown because it was ten o’clock at night. I would have to get up at 5AM and run a very hilly race on tired legs. I wasn’t properly fueled, rested or even mentally ready to tackle those hills.

But I ran the race because what the hell else am I doing? Woke up at 5AM. Picked up my packet. Ran a 10:17 average pace for the first five miles. Started running intervals around mile 8 because we gain 300+ feet of elevation over the second half of the race. The last mile was difficult, but it’s always difficult.

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The good news? Holy crap, I can overcome my diet. I can spend an entire day eating a chocolate shake and noshing on guacamole and bean burritos and chips (and drink two margaritas) and still run a half-marathon that comes out of nowhere.

Surprise? Nah. I knew I could do it.

I wanted my final race of the early season to be faster, but I’ll take it because it gives me a good story.

So this is my last Marathon Monday post until the running season kicks back up. I’ll spend the summer working on lifting my knees and strengthening my core (and eating guacamole) and then get back to long-distance running in August.

Thanks for your support.

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A few years ago, I asked a colleague if he had ever been to Barcelona. He responded, “I am well traveled throughout Western Europe.”

Good grief, HR people are so insufferable. But since that time, I have been looking for a reason to visit Barcelona. I finally found one—and it’s not a human resources conference, thankfully.

I will be leading a session at This Way Up, which is an elite forum for leadership growth and collaboration. I’ll be leading a session on talent—and the executive challenges related to recruitment, development, and the internal mobility of A players—with two very esteemed and successful women named Inge Geerdens and Julia Prats.

It’s an honor to attend and share what I have learned throughout my career. (For real, it’s cool.) More importantly, I hope to learn from the attendees and speakers and have new things to write about on my blog. (I’m selfish like that!)

You could come over to Barcelona and attend this conference if you’re a CEO who has raised external capital, has achieved revenues over €1M, operates in at least 3 countries, and has had revenue growth of 2x over 3 years. There are tickets for attendees who are CEOs of start-up organizations, and for individuals who work within a venture capital firm or a private equity firm.

Oh, insufferable HR guy who’s traveled the world—you don’t qualify to attend? 

That’s too bad for him. For the rest of you, I’m thrilled to attend and live-tweet under #TWU2015. Looking forward to sharing great information from the event.

See you in Barcelona!

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Back in the day when I was a newbie blogger with a good URL and an accidental audience, a friend offered a smart piece of advice. Quoting Kurt Vonnegut, he said, “Be careful who you pretend to be.”

Whenever I think I know something, and whenever I’m about to present myself as an expert on a topic such as human resources or marketing, I ask myself, “Is this true? Is this real? Or am I laying the infrastructure to support myself for when someone attacks me for being a fraud?”

Imposter syndrome. Right there. Plenty of psychologists will tell you that nothing good comes out of that line of thinking.

But imposters are everywhere. There are people who are ‘employment experts’ but haven’t worked in years. Men who openly swipe ideas from colleagues and pretend to be gurus and geniuses. Women who think of themselves as leaders but couldn’t lead a mischief of mice to cheese.

I don’t want to be one of those people.

But I live in America, which means that I know one truth: personal reinvention is possible and within reach for anybody who dares to dream. Do you want to be a career advisor? Go for it. Do you wish to be a marketing guru? With a compelling story and a semi-decent headshot, you can become a micro-celebrity in any niche community.

Everybody wears a mask. We are all imposters to some extent. And as long as you’re not a psychopath, I think it’s okay to pretend to be someone you’re not. In fact, I think it’s better to be someone you’re not. You are probably boring.

Just don’t be an imposter to yourself.

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I have been begging VPs of HR to hire human resources business analysts.

This is true. If you’ve never heard of that job, here is a description from Amazon. (Side note: they use iCIMS. I don’t know what that surprises me, but it does.)

Anyway, the job description starts off like this:

The Amazon Device team designs and engineers high-profile consumer electronics, including the best-selling Kindle family of products. We have also produced groundbreaking devices like Fire tablets, Fire TV, Fire phone, and Amazon Echo. What will you help us create? Work hard. Have fun. Make history.

You could do worse for a compelling brand.

In this role, you will be part of the Kindle Human Resources organization and work closely with HR and Recruiting teams across the globe, building on your strong analytical skills to support the team with regular production of metrics and analytics that are meaningful and scalable. Reporting to the Director, Human Resources, you will work closely with a wide range of business professionals across Amazon, including HR and Recruiting, to apply advanced modeling techniques and build predictive models to help drive business decision-making.

It is a wordy description to say, “You get to build something cool.” Amazon must have expectations for regular reports on meaningful HR metrics, but you get to build something—predictive models that inform important business decisions. That’s pretty sweet. Every HR leader needs this for her team. Can’t afford to hire for this role? Move existing headcount. Can’t move existing headcount? Get an intern, dammit.

Now let’s move on to the duties of the job. I hate bullet-driven lists in job descriptions. Can’t we find a better way, especially when activities like these are pretty important?! But look at these responsibilities:

* Develop and maintain recruiting and HR scorecards for leaders in the Kindle organization that include analysis of recruitment cycle performance and results, as well as predictive indicators and modeling of future performance
* Design, develop and evaluate highly innovative models for forecasting purposes
* Establish scalable, efficient, automated processes for large scale data analyses
* Provide ad-hoc or special project data analysis to HR and business leaders that enable them to achieve their goals, drive decision making and create new strategies where necessary
* Gather and manage large datasets from multiple sources
* Contribute to the research of external benchmark information that enables HR teams to foresee future talent trends
* Build and maintain strong partnerships across HR and the business

Do you see a theme here? (“Forecast. Predict. Benchmark. Data. Help us figure out where we’re going.”) Beyond delivering payroll and keeping clocks running, this is the skill set that every HR leader needs on her team.

Now here comes the dump.

Preferred Qualifications:
* Driven and results oriented, with strong business acumen and quantitative analytical abilities
* Experience in SQL and ability to create queries using SQL
* Ability to create custom pivot tables and create dynamic charts and graphs from complex data
* Innovative collaborator who designs unique analytical tools and methodologies
* High degree of accuracy and expertise in the use of leading edge tools for all data creation, research, and analyses
* Knowledge of basic or advanced statistical techniques
* Ability to use R Statistical Computing Language
* Ability to work independently, as well as an active member of both business and HR teams
* Ability to create, maintain and disseminate information to stakeholders for multiple projects/work streams at one time
* Excellent written and verbal communication; high-quality document and report preparation
* Strong skills using Microsoft Office products, expert in Excel

Your normal crop of HR students don’t have any of these skills. Maybe strong communication skills and Excel. (Maybe.)

I think it would be neat to see a university with an existing HR program team up with a not-for-profit STEM program to help young HR colleagues navigate the new rules of work. Crack the code between managing people and data in a meaningful way, and you crack the code for the future of human resources.

Why does everyone hate HR? Join the movement to fix that. Download the new e-book, “I Am HR.” http://ow.ly/xIRbQ

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I’m getting ready for my trip to Orlando where I’ll be running with Rob Lowe (or something like that). I’ll do my best not to cause any trouble.

The primary purpose of my trip is to host a segment of the WorkHuman agenda called “Big Ideas Cocktail Reception.” There are five great speakers who will be giving TED-style talks. Here are the list of speakers and links.

  1. Play Means Productivity, Brigid Schulte
  2. Romanticize the Workplace! Tim Leberecht
  3. Lifelogging the EnterpriseGrant Beckett
  4. Go Ahead and Fail! No Guts, No Glory, Fawn Germer
  5. How Surprise Makes or Breaks Workplace Happiness, Tania Luna

Each of these talks? Well, they are important to me. I need to be more productive and have fun, so I’m interested in Bridig Schulte’s talk. I would like to fall back in love with my job as a writer, so Tim Leberecht is speaking to me. Grant Beckett is deconstructing myths around big data, which is right up my alley. It’s just a sad fact that I fail at almost everything I try on the first go-around, so Fawn Germer is speaking my language. And I am fascinated and afraid of being surprised, which is why I can’t wait to hear more from Tania Luna.

Surprise is one thing that terrifies me. I’m very rarely surprised, by the way, which is both comforting and a little sad. Life is pretty simple. I know how things are going to work out, and I’m usually right. But lately I’m trying to be open to the concept of surprise. What awesome things don’t I know? Who is going to exceed my expectations?

Maybe I’ll find out at WorkHuman. (Probably not.) But I’m putting this out to the universe—I’m ready to be surprised.

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When I teach teams about implementing cool and new ideas in their human resources departments, we always look at the HR lifecycle. It goes something like this:

  1. Sourcing/Recruiting/Compensation Negotiations
  2. Onboarding/Benefits
  3. Learning/Development
  4. Talent Management
  5. Performance Management and Recognition
  6. Retention and Succession Management
  7. Off-Boarding and Knowledge Management

Baked in there are the efforts required to keep labor costs down, create competitively priced compensation and benefits plans, buy and implement great technology, help supervisors move our talented workforce around to new places and opportunities, create excitement about our jobs, manage all the paperwork and data required to keep us in business, and keep employees safe from bullies, illegal practices, and hazardous work environments.

Schwoo. That’s a lot of work on top of keeping everybody happy.

The HR lifecycle is something that is core and critical to most human resources programs; however, I’ve been thinking about ditching it for an employee-focused matrix. If you believe that HR should have a light touch, which is something that’s important to my philosophy, the HR lifecycle doesn’t matter. What matters is attracting and retaining greater workers, weeding out the troublemakers, and keeping the talent pipeline fresh.

I mean, yes, all that other stuff matters—payroll, benefits, comp, safety, compliance, risk—but looking at HR from the employee experience instead of the HR experience is probably the right way to attack the competency model needed to develop the human resources professional of the future.

I like when people talk about a bold new way of thinking about HR. However, the boldness looks like an outsourced and for-profit version of HR that isn’t talent focused and serves the needs of the same old constituencies—shareholders, executives, consultants and tech companies. And maybe the HR lifecycle that we have right now isn’t all that misaligned with what employees need. I just don’t think there’s been a fair, impartial assessment.

Have you seen anything good? Let me know. I would love to learn.

And stay tuned for my version HR matrix that is relevant in the world where employees are capitalists, too, and can vote on company policies and HR infrastructure by simply leaving. You don’t get much more open and transparent than that.

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I ran an 8K on Saturday in Durham that was okay until the end. The organizers ran out of water for finishers, which is not a big deal if you’re a tough Durham runner. It was 74 degrees with 90% humidity.

I’m a wuss.

But the race was good because I had time to think about my upcoming fall running schedule. To recap: My plan was to run the Cayman Islands Marathon in early December. I would train during the fall months, travel to London and Havana for time off in the month of November, and wrap up a great month by running a marathon on December 6th.

But running a marathon on December 6th would require me to train on the road. That sounds like a first world problem, but Havana isn’t quite the first world. Not sure what freedom I’ll have to run because I’m going there with travel restrictions and a large group of fellow HR nerds. I would have to break from the tour group and run 21 miles, and then 13 miles, and then come home for a week and then travel to my marathon in Grand Cayman.

And there’s this new wrinkle: the Havana Marathon is November 15th. I could peace out of my tour group on the 15th (basically upon arrival) and go run that marathon. I could catch up with everybody later in the day.

But another option is just to run the City of Oaks Marathon in Raleigh on November 1st and be done with running for the month of November. I’ll probably do that. Make things easier on myself.

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Why struggle? Why run alone? Why fight so hard to run in a foreign place when I can run in my backyard? Running a marathon is hard enough!

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I’m always looking to grow and develop—as a business professional, a wife, a sister, a daughter, and as a normal woman who deals with anxiety. For years, I have been thinking about doing some art therapy. Why not? I love art, and I’m a big fan of the pop art and modern art world. But I had doubts about whether or not it would be helpful or fun because, while I’m crafty, I’m not arty.

Lichtenstein is arty. Richter is arty. Rauschenberg is arty. Ruettimann is childish.

But I’ve been working with an analyst, lately, and I’m caught up in a loop about how much words don’t matter. Words are everywhere, and they have no meaning. William S. Burroughs would “cut up text” and rearrange it to find and create new meaning. Cut up my words and another HR writer’s words, and you have nothing. What’s the difference between SchoolingBersinLaubyMcClure and Miller-Merrell? Well, Josh has a great platform. Beyond that, sometimes our community feels like a copy of a copy of a copy.

But what if words had weight and heft? What if writing returned to a more physical act? What would that look and feel like? I was curious. And I thought art might help me make sense of my writing.

While in Seattle, last month, I bought some glorious and heavy paper. I went on eBay and bought a typewriter, too. Not a fancy typewriter or anything hipstery, but rather, something cheap and sensible. Then I sat down and started typing out my thoughts. I captured my quick, internal reaction to weightless, meaningless things I’ve seen on the internet.

Here are some examples.

My observations about this endeavor? Well, I had to be present in mind and body to type, which is something that surprised me. Typing is hella physical. Typing—unlike “keyboarding” on my MacBook—requires an intense focus. The moment my mind wandered, even in the meta-act of thinking about what I was about to type, I made a typo.

I learned an interesting lesson by doing these exercises, too. Art therapy isn’t art. That was sorta liberating because I could be a nerd and just experience the act of making sloppy, weird mistakes on a typewriter. However, doing these exercises made me realize that my writing could be art. I could go back to writing things that matter. Using words with heft. Making a mark that cannot be erased.

Art is possible. It’s within reach. I just have to stop hitting refresh, refresh, refresh, refresh on the stuff that doesn’t matter.

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If I could do math, I would rule the world. That’s what I tell myself, anyway, as I try to navigate through some of the hype that surrounds workforce analytics and talent analytics. Human Resources analytics seems to require math. What gives?

My friend, Dr. Matt Stollak, thinks that human resources professionals need to take a statistics class ASAP. I think that’s a noble goal, but I can barely get myself to a pilates or yoga class. I want to take some cooking classes and more archery lessons, too. If my time is x and a statistics class is y, I can’t do the equation but statistics will lose.

One good thing is that great HR technology companies have the backs of their customers. This is true. They want you to be successful, and they know that the average HR practitioner doesn’t do math. They offer dashboards that show your data in a logical way, and they offer consulting services to help you understand what to do with that information.

Some HR technology vendors can marry your company information with other data in their proprietary networks. They can operate as a consortium and tell you how you’re doing on issues related to talent management, workforce development, talent mobility, and any other buzzwordy issue in the marketplace.

(It’s not like HR is the only math-deficient department, btdubs. You think that Adderall-addict in your marketing department knows math? He’s American, which means he’s dumber than the average Estonian but smarter than a Spanish kid when it comes to quadratic equations and whatnot.)

Back to the original question: how much math do you need to know to work in human resources in 2015?

Well, I’m all for personal development. We can’t be functioning idiots and expect our companies to thrive. However, as you grow in your career, it’s important to remember that you get your work done by collaborating and leading people. You don’t have to be an expert on everything. You surround yourself with great and talented people, and you rely on them to provide candid insights and solid expertise.

So hire people who are good at math. It’s too late for you (and me).

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