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Some of you have heard me sing the praises of The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles.

Have you read it?

My pilates instructor referred this book after she got sick of asking, “How is your real book coming along?”

I love this book for a million reasons. Here are a few things I learned about being an artist.

  1. If you want to be a writer, this book addresses the reasons why you don’t write. Procrastination? Inertia? Lack of creative ideas? It’s less complicated than you think.
  2. If you wonder about the difference between amateur and pro — whether you are Tiger Woods or a chick who works in human resources — Steven Pressfield lays it out in very clear language. Amateurs are in love with the brand, the lifestyle and the identity of a career instead of being consumed with doing the work itself.
  3. The universe encourages you to half-ass your life and your work. The only way to overcome resistance is to build healthy and repeatable processes. Healthy habits enable a creative environment that will produce art.

If you are stuck and want more out of life, give this short book a go. I think you’ll find it helpful and enlightening.

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I just wrapped up my marathon training with Fleet Feet Carborro.

It’s early, and there are a few more weeks before my marathon, but my jacked up travel schedule is forcing me to be smart with my time. I will complete my mid-week runs on the road. My long-distance runs are winding down, thank goodness, so it’s easy to do those with friends and family members.

If you are interested in running, local running stores have excellent beginner programs. I just showed up, one day, and asked a lot of questions about running a 5k. I learned about a weekly program with other slow people. I ran with one store’s run crew, didn’t care for it, and then found another. I wound up with a great group of women in Carborro.

(That’s how this works. Trial and error.)

The one thing I know about running? I could never do this on my own. I’m not into team-building or group activities. I’m not built to wake up early, eat right and put on running shoes like I have somewhere to go.

(I have nowhere to go. These comfortable running clothes are a lie. I’m just going to Target.)

The secret is that very few people are naturally inclined to wake up early, eat right and exercise. Running groups are a great resource for normal people who don’t have time to think about improving their VO2 max, but might want to learn how to run without dying.

(The trick is breathing and going faster than a walk.)

If you are interested in learning how to run — even if it’s just a small distance — a local running group is a great way to start. Do it! Then let me know how it works out.

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HustleHarder

The Great Recession morphed our language, but I still don’t know when it became cool to call yourself a hustler and to encourage a life of hustle.

In my life, hustlers are always struggling. They are broke. There is no long-term vision for their lives. Things move quickly for them because there’s no time to pause and reflect. They move from one job to the next, without a pot to piss in, and wait for the hand of God to intervene. God doesn’t look like God, however. God comes in the form of a scratch-off lottery ticket, a $20 bill on the sidewalk, or a cash contribution from a family member who just can’t stomach the bullshit for another minute.

I’m not the Oxford Dictionary, though, and hustle doesn’t always mean hustle in the way I’ve just described it. People who move swiftly use the word hustle to describe the way they’ve found a bridge between “passion projects” and income.

If you can meet your basic obligations in life, you can hustle and call yourself a hustler. What do I care?

But hustlers very rarely meet their obligations. It’s a woman who has “something in the pipeline” that will fund all of her dreams if you’ll only loan her $2000 so she can make rent and pay her overdue utility bills. It’s a guy who is following his dreams but can’t seem to understand that he’s stealing from your long-term dreams when you give him money.

I love agile and creative thinkers who attack the world’s problems with ferocity and passion. I love artists who cannot stomach the idea of doing anything but art. But to hustle is to fail. I think the hustle behavior we see from Gary Vaynerchuk and his ilk deserves a better name.

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Roy Lichtenstein  Girl with Hair Ribbon, 1965

It’s weird how nobody cares about awesome HR tech.

The only time anybody outside of my industry gets excited about work-related software is when it’s rebranded as something else — CLOUD BASED PERFORMANCE SOFTWARE! — and is written about by an underpaid millennial “content manager” who does freelance work at Fast Company or Forbes.

(Yes, I’m cynical.)

Even though it isn’t trendy, I am excited to attend the 17th Annual HR Technology® Conference and learn more about awesome new HR tech startups.

Here are the awesome new startups at the event — with copy lifted from this press release and modified with my pithy observations.

Ajax Workforce Marketing

Ajax Workforce Marketing’s BrandAmp shows employees how advocacy benefits them as individuals, gives them the opportunity to opt-in to the company’s brand and uses their choices to get HR and marketing the feedback they need to know which parts of the brand resonate with employees. The results include a stronger, clearer employer brand, tighter integration of the employer brand into the master brand and more effective social recruiting.

Ajax is run by a guy named Jason Seiden. He wrote a book called How to Self-Destruct: Making the Least of What’s Left of Your Career, and we’ve done business together. By business, I mean that we both lost money and learned a lot of lessons.

Jason gets a kidney if he needs one, but I hope he never needs one.

BlackbookHR

BlackbookHR will be presenting its new Network Insights product called RNA. The solution provides an interactive visualization of the informational and relational networks in an organization. Insights from RNA are used to drive performance in talent optimization, change management and leadership effectiveness.

I’m on the strategic advisory board of BlackbookHR. I made it my personal mission to befriend Chris Ostoich, the founder, just because I need more cool people in my life. I don’t give a shit about anything else.

Data Morphosis

The Data Morphosis Group designs and builds interactive, next-generation talent software that transforms human capital information into fluid, visual insight. During the session, the company will showcase its latest module, “Talent Scan” — software that takes talent strategy into the boardroom, delivering commercial advantage using best-in-class data visualization.

I don’t know anything about this company. Looks fine. Has the right buzzwords. Godspeed!

Fuel50

Similar to “LinkedIn” for the workforce, Fuel50 enables employees to gain a line of sight into career opportunities across the business, helps managers initiate and engage in better career conversations and provides organizations with the tools to deliver compelling and uniquely customized career propositions to every employee, thereby impacting engagement, retention and even increased revenue per employee.

Fuel50 reached out to me on social media to set up a meeting. I forgot to respond. (Sorry.) I remember the name because Fuel50® sounds like a sports drink. I envision a whole line of products: Fuel50®, Diet Fuel50®, Fuel50® Lite, Fuel50® now with Stevia, etc.

They seem to be Roy Lichenstein fans, too, which is okay in my book.

QUEsocial

QUEsocial will provide an overview of its next-generation social recruiting platform, which uniquely blends employer branding content distribution, gamification and analytics into an easy-to-use SaaS Platform.

QueSocial is also located in my hometown of Chicago, IL. They hired my almost-real-brother Josh Schwede from Hirevue to join their company as EVP of Business Development. Josh and I are the same age, we grew up 10 minutes from one another, and we never met until he called me LFR for the first time. (The name stuck.)

Zenefits

Zenefits is a free, cloud-based HRIS that automates and eliminates time-consuming HR-related paperwork and gives businesses a single place to manage their payroll, benefits and compliance. Employers can sync directly with their current payroll, health insurance and other third-party systems, or use Zenefits to set up and connect with new payroll and benefits providers.

When I have insomnia, which is very rare, I like to think of all the times I sat through software demonstrations by payroll and benefits providers. If you combine benefits with zen, you get a blissful night of slumber. On the other hand, Zenefits has a ton of legit money and a ginormous billboard outside of SFO. If you’re a big and bloated payroll provider that still asks your clients to complete “change forms” via fax, you are screwed. Sorry.

I’m looking forward to this new breed of HR technology startup companies. Maybe they’ll help to improve the overall image of HR!

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

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A few years ago, I worked for a marketing and consulting firm that hired me as a Director to build a big book of business. Since it was a smaller firm, the cash compensation was on the lower end of the spectrum; however, they offered a competitive commission package and unlimited PTO.

I told my husband about the offer, and he said, “There’s no such thing as unlimited PTO, Laur. That means that you can’t get fired if you never come work.”

I said, “Why do you have to be like that?”

(True story. Marriage. Good grief.)

I took the job. In my first year, I took 21 days of paid-time-off (including sick days). That’s roughly four weeks, which is equivalent to a director-level position in a big corporation. Pretty much standard stuff. I took those days on demand and without apology because I’m a human resources lady by training, I know how this works, and those days are part of my total compensation package.

My colleagues didn’t enjoy nearly as many days off. It wasn’t as if the culture didn’t encourage a fun and a vibrant personal life. It’s just that everybody felt busy and pressured to perform. When you’re in a fishbowl of high performers and tight deadlines, the benefit of unlimited paid-time-off feels disloyal.

I am a big believer in results-based performance and development plans. Set goals. Measure outcomes. Do good work and get rewarded. Fail to do your job and get fired. I would also add that you should consider implementing a PTO that requires each employee to take a minimum number of days off.

“You must take X number of days, each year, or be held accountable.”

And leaders should fight against my cynical mindset that unlimited PTO is a lie. It doesn’t have to be a lie if executives, founders and supervisors adopt a more progressive mindset and model good behaviors, too.

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NothingCompares2U

A note from a reader.

I found your old blog, The Cynical Girl, and I read your final post that you wrote on your birthday.

It’s my birthday of all days. You said to reach out so here I am.

Most days, I feel like my work in HR is slowly sucking the life out of me. Can you offer suggestions or enlightenment on how to get past these feelings of drudgery towards this career path I’ve chosen or how to jump into something else. This is not the place that I can see myself in another five years, but feel completely lost when it comes to career changes. I have been in HR for nine years, two months and about eight days. I don’t have experience in much else. I don’t feel qualified for many other jobs. Suggestions? Should I just go back to old posts on the Cynical Girl and find some encouragement?

Let’s work backwards. You should always go back and read posts on The Cynical Girl. You probably won’t find encouragement, but you will find common sense advice.

You don’t have to work in human resources just because you’ve been in HR for nine years, two months and about eight days. You can do anything: be a hooker, work in a Chinese coal mine, or work in marketing. It’s all the same. When you aren’t responsible for writing your paycheck, you will always give up a certain level of control and be accountable to someone else. And in the majority of those situations, owners and colleagues will be assholes.

What’s worse is that modern media shops like Forbes and Fast Company make money by telling you that you need to find fulfillment in your career. I think it’s awesome when you can make money, do something that isn’t morally bankrupt, but still have time for a hobby. So get a hobby ASAP.

But if you can’t see yourself in HR in five years, and you don’t have any other skills, it’s time to develop some skills. Does your company offer tuition assistance? Take full advantage of it. Can you volunteer your time on a not-for-profit board of directors? You’ll learn a lot. Do that. Can you open up an Etsy shop or do something fun on the side to earn cash? I made the jump from HR lady to full-time writer by blogging and running Google Ads, and eventually bigger ads, on my blog.

And if something is slowly sucking the life out of you (e.g., your job, your family, marriage), you have two choices.

  1. You can stop the bleeding,
  2. or you can die a miserable and gangrenous death.

Who wants to die? Here are some small ideas to begin the march forward towards your new life.

* Wake up 15 minutes early and use that time to connect with new people on LinkedIn and the social web.
* Research other companies and reach out to their HR leaders. Ask for an informational interview.
* Volunteer. Teach. Learn something new.
* Start walking during lunch. Be alone. Be quiet. Stimulate endorphins and slowly begin to overcome your career dysthymia.
* Make someone else happy. Take yourself and your career less seriously. Take your obligation to improve the lives of other people more seriously.

Change doesn’t happen with a flip of a switch. Make a commitment to do one small thing every single day that a) brings you a little joy and b) makes someone else’s life better. It is amazing what happens when we shift our focus away from our own pain and think about how we make a positive impact on the world and the lives of other people.

I hate human resources. I get your ennui, as well. Good luck, and let’s connect on your next birthday!

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I’ve known my husband for a long time. He likes to golf. After he golfs, he likes to tell me about all 18 holes. Every. Single. Hole.

The stories have a consistent theme, and they go like this.

“My short game fell apart, today.”

“I crushed a monster drive over 300 yards.”

“It was a par-4 dogleg, and there was a foursome of old women up ahead of me and I wanted to play through but…”

He takes me turn-by-turn through some of America’s most boring cow pastures, and I usually just nod and smile. But now that I’m running, I take him through each of my miles and tell him about pace, elevation, hydration strategies, and my sweat-to-body-odor ratio.

It’s awesome.

This past week, I planned on running 10 miles at the Carolina North Forest with my little running group. I couldn’t find the entrance and drove around for ten minutes like a nut. (Local people, is it by Seawell Elementary? I couldn’t find it.)

I knew that I had to run ASAP, or I would just quit on myself. I went back to the American Tobacco Trail and ran the entire 10 miles straight-through in 1:43, which might just be my personal best.

I came home and gave my husband a play-by-play of each mile, each turn, and each time I was passed by an asshole runner pushing a stroller. (I was also passed by a border collie who kept running ahead of me, then slowing down, then running ahead, then slowing down. I know he was just taunting me.)

I only have three more Saturdays with my running crew until the marathon. I sure hope I don’t get lost. And I can’t wait to bore the hell out of my husband. I’ve earned that right after listening to his I-almost-got-an-eagle-and-then-I-double-bogeyed-that-hole stories.

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There are two ways to deal with someone you don’t like at work (or life).

  1. Tell him. Try to fix it.
  2. Don’t tell him. Don’t try to fix it.

There are a million ways to screw this up.

  1. Tell the person. Then never give him an opportunity to fix his mistakes.
  2. Don’t tell him. Tell everybody else.
  3. Tell everyone how gracious and forgiving you are while not behaving that way.
  4. Stay in the safe zone of bitter silence.
  5. Ignore his attempts to make things right.
  6. Be suspicious.
  7. Write passive-aggressive blog posts.
  8. Vaguebook.
  9. Publish mysterious tweets.
  10. Pretend you like the person … but then stab him in the back.
  11. Create a narrative where you’re both the victim and the hero.

I could go on and on because I have been on both sides of that list (at work & in life).

You don’t have to be friendly with everybody you meet. If you don’t like someone, be an adult and move on.

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

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Secret-Service-Training-Ground

Every year, I attend the annual HR Technology Conference & Expo. People ask me about what parties I’m attending. This year, my answer is simple.

“I don’t know.”

At the end of the night, it’s usually me and a bunch of friends sitting around eating pizza and talking about life.

HR Tech is a big deal in our industry, and there are quite a few people who take themselves super cereal and want to talk to me about the future of HR. But let’s be real. Even Bill Kutik is obsessed with the parties.

(I think this is why he sticks around and can’t let go!)

I just had a call with a consultant that ended with the question, “Did you hear that Third Eye Blind is playing at HR Tech?”

This was a weird moment for me. I just never thought my adult world would intersect with my college life back in 1997.

The scene at HR Tech is something else. It’s odd to hear some dude over 40 lecture me on how HR ladies “don’t get tech strategy” while having a pretty intense conversation with me about a random band that had one hit song.

“They had two songs, Laur. You know Motorcycle Driveby? C’mon. You know it.”

No, I do not. I don’t have time in my life for that kind of bullshit.

“I wonder if they’ll have the original line-up?” asked my friend.

Nobody wonders that. That is a lie.

“Knock it off. The after-party is going to be sick. If you make fun of Third Eye Blind, you aren’t invited to my suite.”

Yeah, okay, that’s a blessing.

And I am never invited anywhere because I don’t know how to have fun. One year, I went into a party hosted by a European HR technology company at some swanky hotel in Chicago. I overheard someone ask, “How did she get in here?”

How did I get in there? What went wrong with my life that I’m hanging out with Germans who don’t like me?!

So if you are at HR Tech, next week, I might see you at the Third Eye Blind concert-slash-party. More than likely, I’ll see you at the hotel bar because that’s how I do HR Tech. I’ll be eating pizza with other nerds while avoiding pesky German HR consultants!

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

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My grandmother once told me, “My sister is one of the most jealous people in the world. I know this because I don’t have a jealous bone in my body, but I can see it in people.”

“Okay, Gramma. Of course you’re not the jealous type. Not. At. All.”

I still laugh when I think of that conversation. We hate the things we see in other people that remind us of ourselves. And jealousy and envy are some of the worst qualities in the world, which sucks because I am a jealous and envious person.

[Career envy. Money envy. Running envy. Height envy. Weight envy. Hair envy. Shoe envy. Spouse envy. Dog envy. Baby envy. Location envy. Hotel envy. Eyebrow envy. Zip code envy. Beach house envy. Lifestyle envy. Upgrade envy. Good towel envy. Nice sheets envy. Landscape envy. Paint envy. Furniture envy. Jewelry envy. Socks envy.]

This is tough to admit. My life is great — and I don’t lack for a single thing — but I sometimes wonder how and why people are doing better. Then I find a way to knock it down.

“You work harder than me? You are smarter than me? Well, you know what? Your face is stupid.”

Ugh. So bad. So awful. So human. And your face is fine.

Jealousy and envy are more about insecurity than anything else. We have a void in our lives — one that we probably caused — and we deal with our void by attacking someone else instead of coming to terms with our own personal or professional failures.

Or we don’t have a void and our brains are broken.

So how do you solve the problem of being a jealous or envious of another human being? Heck if I know. I think I am much better, these days, because I am honest about it. I try to remember that I can be happy for someone while struggling with issues in my life.

You like your family? Oh how fabulous for you. Why don’t you go fuck yourself, I mean, go ahead and have a healthy relationship with your parents. That is great. I’ll be over here — not being jealous — figuring my shit out.

Jealousy and envy are unnecessary causes of suffering and anguish in our lives. And those dysfunctional behaviors — even if never publicly expressed — make us stupid, petty and unlikable.

If you catch yourself feeling jealousy or being envious of another person’s success, give yourself a little grace but please try to stop those behaviors ASAP. It’s a waste of time. Wish my Gramma had realized that in her lifetime.

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