American viewers have been sold a load of goods. For years, we were told that Olympic female gymnasts and figure skaters are princesses. Pretty—sometimes petite—women who are captivating, enchanting and virtuous.

These women are warriors. Thanks to the popularity of fitness blogs and protein supplements at the local Target, more of us know about sports science and what it takes to get your body into shape. Takes more than unicorn tears and pixie dust to execute a floor routine or a triple salchow jump.

I’ve been thinking about the warriors in the HR blogging field, this weekend. Who trains hard and writes what’s true? Where are our HR Olympic athletes? Who’s going for gold in HR blogging?

Anybody who writes about HR is operating at a level higher than most individuals. Also, gotta love people who have blogs and try to write a few times each week. Keeps their thinking fresh. Shows that they’re interested in topics outside themselves. I don’t hate it.

But there’s something about people who commit to writing and invest their heart and soul in the process. That’s why I’d like to hand out Olympic medals to a few bloggers. Gold, silver, bronze. Only three spots on the podium. No participation awards.

Here we go.

Individual Women

Gold: Robin Schooling — An Amazing storyteller with longevity in the space. As America’s HR lady, she’s very generous with her time and will mentor new writers.

Silver: Sharyn Lauby — Understands HR, understands technology, and can’t stop writing good books on the subject.

Bronze: Sarah Morgan — She’s the hardest working woman in HR blogging. Writes with truth and passion. Watch her career grow.

Individual Men 

Gold: Tim Sackett — Undisputed heavyweight champion of HR blogging and HR tech. Style, substance, and integrity. Pick up the phone and call him. He’ll make time for you.

Silver: Steve Browne — The ambassador of Human Resources has a long-time blog, book, and speaking tour to reshape HR. Plus he has a big heart.

Bronze: Jonathan Segal — Who likes lawyers? You should! Jonathan has a rising career as the voice of a smarter and more nuanced approach to employee management.

Pairs (Team Blogs)

Gold: RecruitingDaily — Come for the recruiting news and technology, stay for the fantastic content on social issues and cultural topics.

Silver: SHRM blog — Maybe I’m biased, but half the authors are my friends who have flourished as writers. Required reading.

Bronze: TLNT — Once a fresh-young media site, TLNT has grown and matured over the years. On the comeback. Love a comeback story!

Who did I exclude? Nearly everybody. Good people. Honest writers. My friends and colleagues who write like champs. Just because you’re not on the list doesn’t mean you’re not an athlete. Keep waking up early, training the mind, and writing quality content. The road to HR blogging Olympic gold is long, but the medal doesn’t make the writer. It’s the journey


Are you a Winter Olympics fan? Did you see the opening ceremony? We’re still getting over being sick, so we watched the ceremony from the comfort of our couch.

The best part of the Winter Olympics is watching people from warm-weather countries compete in cold weather sports. There are the Nigerian bobsledders who honed their craft in Houston. The Kenyan Olympian at the entire event who is an alpine skier and crowdfunded her way to the games. And I love the Iranian cross-country skier who flies to Turkey to train. It’s inspiring to see these women push their bodies to the limit in a variety of terrains that aren’t accessible to them.

I also love the Winter Olympics because each contest, no matter how boring, represents an innate desire for perfection achieved through a rigorous commitment to practice. The Winter Olympics reminds me it’s not enough to be gifted; your natural abilities won’t calm your nerves. Talent gets you the invitation to try; training awards you the privilege to compete for gold.

The final thing I appreciate about the Winter Olympics is that I learn about sports not on my radar screen. I’m looking at you, biathlon. Hard to get excited about people skiing and shooting rifles except, now that I’ve run marathons, I’m envious of the quiet and intense focus required to push your body to the limit and hit your mark with a weapon. 

I’m not Jason Bourne, but reading the coverage of the biathlon event makes me think that I’d love to try something like it. Curling it too social for me. I want endurance sports and guns, but, you know, in a healthy way.

So consider me a fan of the Winter Olympics. I’m all in with Skeleton, Freestyle Skiing, and Nordic Combined. But I’m not buying any Ralph Lauren winter gear. Those puffy gloves are ridiculous and too big for my petite hands!


I am addicted to taking baths.

It’s not a new thing. I’ve been taking baths my whole life. But I rediscovered the benefits of a bath after taking up long-distance running as a hobby. Anything longer than six miles, my move is to soak in an Epsom salt bath and then take a nap afterward. The hot water eases my chronic hip flexor and SI pain. Also, the salt water calms me down.

We have a large master bathroom with a garden tub. It’s built for a petite woman like me to submerge her body and float. I make the water super-hot and fill it up high. Yes, to the top. As the uppermost layer of the water gets cold, it drains into the overflow tube. That’s science, right?

Well, that’s not science. And it turns out that we had a broken connection between the tub and the overflow tube. I discovered this right before New Year’s Eve. Water leaked from my second-floor bathroom onto the first-floor ceiling. It flowed down the path of least resistance and ruined our family room wall and ceiling, the downstairs bathroom, and then dripped into my basement.

When we noticed the damage, it was too late.

The water also pooled under my hardwood floors and buckled a few planks. My entire first floor is an open-concept with no breaks in the wood. So, that’s a fucking mess and needs to be repaired and refinished.

But, listen, I’m grateful to be an adult who owns a home and has insurance. When I was just a toddler, my mom and I lived with my grandmother in her tiny home in Chicago. My grandmother was a hoarder, but she always cleared out space to accommodate her adult children who returned home. We slept in my mother’s childhood bunk bed. My earliest memory of my mom is waking up and hearing her tell me, “Turn over. Stop breathing on me.”

Two of my teenage aunts still lived at home with my grandmother. One of my aunts slept in a bedroom with her newborn baby. The youngest aunt got stuck in the bunk bed with my mom and me. And there was one bathroom for four women and two babies. The shower didn’t work. We just had a tub.

Mom hated living with my grandmother and tried to work things out with my dad. Got pregnant. Eventually, the marriage failed. We moved back to my grandmother’s home for good. This time, my brother was along for the ride. He and I slept on a fold-out living room sofabed. I developed a bedwetting problem, which my brother won’t let me forget. Can’t blame him, poor kid.

Life was chaotic. Mom had two jobs and a string of dodgy boyfriends. My Dad wasn’t helpful. Broke, depressed, and alcohol-dependent. My grandmother worked the overnight shift at the local Dunkin Donuts. During the day, she watched a ton of grandkids. As more cousins were born, kids were crammed into that house like a can of sardines.

And it was just that single bathroom. No shower.

Then my mom got pregnant and married an asshole guy she knew from her childhood. That’s the nicest way I can write that sentence, and it represents thirty years of expensive therapy. We moved into a two-flat, which is a brick building with an apartment on the first floor and second floor. My sister and youngest brother were born while we lived there.

Six of us lived in about 850 square feet. A little more space with a bathtub and a shower. But it wasn’t idyllic, or, even, safe. Lots of violence in the house. I was moved into my father’s home when I was 14. Went to college when I was 17. Got a job in human resources when I was 20. Moved in with my husband when I was 23 and, for the first time, lived in a house with more than one bath.

The American dream, right?

So, I’m absolutely grateful for my good fortune. Sure, the entire first floor of my home needs to be renovated. We will need to move out while it happens, and I have to find a place to stay that will let me bring my cats. And, right now, I am living with a goddamn hole in my family room that’s covered in cardboard, garbage bags and duct tape.

I’m okay with it. All of it. This homeowner’s nightmare is small potatoes and nothing more than a blip on my personal radar screen. My needs are met, my cup is full. And I’ve discovered that picking out bathroom fixtures is surprisingly healing. Choosing new tile is a good team-building activity for my marriage, too.

They don’t call it retail therapy for nothing. And I think my grandmother would be proud.


Are you curious about mindfulness? Just finished week three of my latest round of MBSR coursework at Duke. If you recall, MBSR is a mindfulness training program meant to help people calm the hell down. 

When I started this journey in 2017, I wanted to earn a coaching certificate and teach mindfulness to clients and students. Now that I’ve been studying for a year, things don’t work like that. 

I’m just at the beginning of this training. I’ll always be at the beginning because one of the primary tenets of mindfulness is the “beginner’s mind.” No, it’s not a pyramid scheme. My instructors preach the value of curiosity and embodying an attitude of openness and eagerness towards almost everything. Even when you think you know somebody or something, it’s important to let go of your preconceived notions. 

There’s no pass or fail in mindfulness, only practice. You don’t get a trophy when you’re proficient. You get peace of mind, and maybe not even that.

Our instructors also teach that it’s essential to stop judging things, or, at the least, observe your judgy behavior quietly. Try to get in front of it. Dig a little deeper and ask why it’s happening right now. What about this unique moment in time is making you cast judgment on yourself or something else?

Takes the fun out of being judgy that’s for sure.  

Observing myself is a meta-exercise that could leave me in a narcissistic turmoil for days, except that mindfulness is about adopting a non-striving attitude. So, don’t strive to change. Observe yourself or don’t. Accept how you are at the moment. Trust those feelings aren’t facts. Be patient with yourself. Then let it go.

And you’re supposed to breathe. Holy shit, I forgot to tell you the most important part. Keep breathing. Breathe more than you think. Focus on the inhalation of the air and exhalation of your breath. And, while you’re breathing, those curious thoughts and observations might quiet down. Or maybe not. Stop judging it. Get back to breathing. Except be relaxed about it. Don’t put so much effort into it.

With these rules, which are barely guidelines and mostly just suggestions, the natural contrarian in me wants to hate it. But I love it. It’s not like I’m fixed through the magic of mindfulness, but it’s easier to see that “being fixed” isn’t the point. The goal is to find a less toxic way to live my life.

But sometimes I want to yell at the world and scream, “Dammit, don’t you see I’m mindful?” I also want to yell, “I’m kind to you, and you don’t fucking appreciate it. You are so basic!”

So, yeah, I’m not ready to teach this stuff. But I’m at the stage in my training where my brain moves from hyper-aroused to observant to quiet with a little more ease and fluidity. And it all started with a few goals: 

  • Silence the inner monologue.
  • Communicate with greater ease and listen more.
  • Avoid emotional craters when things don’t work out. 
  • Forgive myself and others when it all goes wrong, or, at the least, stop ruminating excessively.
    So, if this blog post has you curious about mindfulness or MBSR, you don’t have to go it alone. Read books. Go online and find a program (or even a counselor) who specializes in this field and can help you get started. Give me a call. I can send you a few resources.

    But I can’t teach it. I might still pursue a formal certificate from Duke, but being an official coach is an audacious goal. I’m not there yet. Right now, it’s just about living a better quality of life. I am doing interior work that should pay dividends in the real world.

    I can also report that most people are mimics. If I can show how life improves through intentional breathing, maybe I can just teach mindfulness by being mindful. Not a bad goal to have in 2018.


    It’s cold and flu season. I know this firsthand because, out of nowhere, I’m sick. Again. For the second time in 2018. I don’t have a fever. I have all the other lovely symptoms that come with a cold. A dry cough, congestion, and lots of sneezing. Not that anybody asked, but I’m not happy about it. 

    Working in human resources taught me one truth in life: Most of you are too stupid and selfish to get the flu shot. That’s why I wash my hands about fifty times a day to decrease the spread of germs. My skin is bright red and dry, and I don’t use lotion because those pumps are bottles are a festering swamp of germs. 

    I learned another thing in HR: Karma is real. When I’m at the airport, I cover my mouth when I cough and sneeze. When someone else is sick, I’ll offer my tissues and hand sanitizer. I’ve even been asked to watch children and luggage while solo parents run to the bathroom. I’m banking points to avoid future catastrophes in life.

    But the cold and flu season doesn’t care if I’m a decent citizen, and it doesn’t care that I’m two weeks away from Hustle Up the Hancock. Goals? Dreams? Breaking your personal record for climbing 94 flights of stairs? Forget about it. Take some Sudafed and go back to bed.

    Since you work in HR, I’m asking you to intervene in the name of a global pandemic and double-down on good hygiene practices. Make sure those hand-washing messages are on a loop in the office. Pitch the community snacks in the break room that require everybody to stick their hand in the Costco-sized bucket of carbs.

    And use your power of influence to reward and compensate hourly workers who stay home and don’t expose people to germs. Consider being compassionate and encouraging caregivers to take the time they need to care for their sick loved ones. Give people the benefit of the doubt when they call in sick even if they’ve abused the policy in the past.

    This is easier said than done, but the cold and flu season is killing people across America. As much as we want to automate work and cut the labor costs from our budget, we’re still in the position of needing a healthy labor pool to reach revenue and profitability goals.

    So, if people make the difference in your company, it’s time to put your money where your mouth is. Just make sure you wash your hands after touching that cash and wear a facemask when you’re out in public. It’s gross out there.


    I’ve been working hard with the RepCap team to get the HR Books website up and running. We are close. I didn’t want you to enter the first weekend in February without the official #HRBookClub selections.

    We’ll be reading Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand In the Sun and Be Your Own Person by Shonda Rhimes. It’s African-American History Month, and Ms. Rhimes is changing the way we see women and people of color on TV. Her stories are intersectional, much like the work we do in human resources, and you will enjoy this book. 

    The second book is A Chance In This World: An Orphan Boy, a Mysterious Past, and How He Found a Place Called Home by Steve Pemberton. He’s the current Chief HR Officer at Globoforce and the former diversity officer at Walgreens. Globoforce is my client, but they are not sponsoring this book. I liked it, and you should read it. Mr. Pemberton’s autobiography covers topics like foster care, abuse, education, and identity through the lens of his life. His success is nothing short of a miracle, and the story is very inspirational.

    So, there you have it. Two official books for February’s #HRBookClub. Read one, read both, and join me on February 28th to discuss the books. More on that soon. And I want to thank the RepCap team, including Kelsey Gallagher, for working hard to turn readers into leaders.

    Everything is coming up Milhouse! 


    Years ago, I took part in an online experiment called The BMI Project. Hosted by Kate Harding, she collected photos of real women and tried to show that the BMI is bullshit.

    Check out the slideshow.

    Kate and I were friends, and I shared my weight over dinner. I weighed 130 lbs, and she said, “I would have guessed less.”

    You might think Kate was polite, but that’s not her style. We spent the rest of our meal discussing body dysmorphia and how people overestimate their size and underestimate how much other people weigh. You’re thinner than you think. Your friends are fatter than you know. Nobody has a clue.

    So, after my experience with Kate, I told everybody my size. Over the past ten years, I’ve run marathons and took part in all kinds of crazy races. My lowest weight was 110 lbs., and my heaviest weight was 136 lbs. 

    (Right now, I weigh 127 lbs, and I’m about to hike up a skyscraper. Please donate here.)

    Weight and Pay Transparency

    The discussion about weight reminds me of the debate around pay transparency. There are a lot of good reasons why we should tell people how much we earn. For starters, a rising tide lifts all boats. Our collective knowledge is a source of strength. Workers can protect themselves against hegemonic corporate power run amuck. 

    Also, pay transparency ensures that the least educated among us doesn’t remain in the dark. If you have excellent skills but can’t negotiate — or prefer not to bargain — you can cut to the chase and still earn a fair wage for your work.

    The arguments against pay transparency are dumb and go something like this: If you tell people how much you earn, wage inflation occurs because people are petty and want to make more than their colleagues. If you’re paid one dollar, I want two dollars. Ultimately, capitalism folds in on itself and businesses won’t be able to pay anybody.

    The other argument is that pay transparency can be demotivating because there’s a cap on your earnings, and the limiting factor isn’t your talent, but, instead, the black woman or the disabled vet who doesn’t work as hard as you and is holding you back.

    Both arguments are bullshit and rooted in classism, sexism and racism. 

    In reality, wage inflation happens at the executive level when leaders —with unchecked powers — pay company officers a lot of money for mediocre results. Preferential treatment, combined with monolithic corporate control, creates massive pay inequality in companies around the world.

    And pay transparency is demotivating when you realize that you’re underpaid and will never pay off your student loans at your current salary.

    Pay Transparency Starts With You

    Pay transparency is a realistic goal for your company, and it can be achieved without putting names next to dollar amounts. There’s no reason why we can’t demystify the compensation process, motivate our workforce with competitive total rewards packages, and create enough flexibility in our budget to allow for incentives and merit-based increases.

    All of that is possible.

    Listen, I’m not asking you to rent a billboard and spill your personal secrets; however, if you’re sick and tired of guessing how much money other people earn and wondering if you’re paid your true value, it’s time to find a trusted colleague and ask. Then, whenever you feel it’s time, share how much you make. 

    Talking about salary reminds me of talking about weight. It’s taboo, but only because someone told us it’s taboo. If we don’t look out for one another, who will? 

    Not HR.


    My friend FrannyO is a trailblazer. Back in 2009, she and China Gorman organized the first-ever official “tweet-up” at an HR conference in New Orleans. It was a networking party with bloggers. You can see some photos here. We were all so young. Dammit.

    My god, how easy, but the concept was new to the HR community. Franny made it happen — like she makes everything happen — through the winning combination of event-planning skills and her awesome personality.

    On that same trip, someone swiped my watch on Bourbon Street, and Franny lost her wallet. That’s when I learned that the best way to carry money is in your bra.

    Franny is my first guest on the #HRBookClub on my Facebook page at 2 PM ET today. She’s a Brené Brown fan, a fantastic human being, and a Vice President of HR who has a million things to do but still makes time to read.

    Franny may be my only guest depending on how this thing turns out, but I can’t think of anybody better to kick off this journey.

    See you on Facebook Live later today!


    last black unicornI finished a book called “The Last Black Unicorn” by Tiffany Haddish. She’s a comedian who starred in Girls Trip, a hilarious movie I watched in an aisle seat in the bulkhead row on a first-class flight from Raleigh to Los Angeles.

    As people congregated in the aisle and waited for the toilet in the forward cabin — which is against FAA rules — they looked over my shoulder and watched me laugh at nasty scenes.

    (You should see the movie.)

    “Girls Trip” destroyed box office expectations and earned $140,073,354 worldwide. Lots of strong performances from amazing actors like Jada Pinkett Smith and Queen Latifah, but Tiffany Haddish is the star of the movie. She makes every scene better.

    The Last Black Unicorn is an Origin Story

    “The Last Black Unicorn” chronicles Tiffany’s life, which begins in poverty and foster care. Her early years are full of abuse and neglect. Powerful people with authority failed to protect her, and she couldn’t read above a second-grade level until she was in high school.

    But Tiffany was resilient and determined to make a better life for herself. She fought hard to attend comedy class and learned how to tell jokes. When she wasn’t performing on stage, Tiffany always had a job. She was a high school mascot and worked the Bar Mitzvah circuit in Los Angeles. She eventually found a good job at an airline.

    While working and performing and sometimes living out of her car, Tiffany tried to take care of her parents and grandparents, too. Raised Jehovah’s Witness, she felt a responsibility to heal her family’s wounds. Tiffany could have been bitter or angry about life, or she could have acted like a jerk at work. Instead, was kind to her colleagues and friends.

    (Read the chapter on Roscoe and tell me what you think.)

    It’s a Sad Book

    Tiffany has hilarious stories about her rise to fame, but many of her stories are also about domestic violence and assault. When she’s a child, she was molested and beaten. As a young woman, men treated her like dirt. As she got older, it’s not much better. Tiffany had a string of relationships where men treated her like property.

    For example, she married an ex-cop. He watches her, videotapes her without consent, and checks her phone. He’s always monitoring her social media accounts. Ultimately, he puts limits on who she can talk to and has her followed by his friends.

    Then her husband moves her away from her friends and colleagues and limits her social interactions. Tells her she needs to be a wife, first, and then a comedian. And, you guessed it; he beats her.

    Why do women stay with people who abuse them? Why don’t they walk away? Why don’t they leave before these men get so violent?

    There are a lot of reasons smart and talented people don’t leave abusive relationships. Tiffany had a stepson and loved him. She felt the duties and obligations of being a wife. And she loved her husband. Hope springs eternal until it doesn’t. If you read the chapter where it all falls apart, your heart will break.

    Why You Should Buy This Book

    So, I hate saying that “The Last Black Unicorn” was a great book because some stories were shocking. But I’m grateful that Tiffany Haddish wrote a brave and honest book about her life. If she can talk about it and work on healing, there’s hope for all of us.

    And, since we’re approaching the end of National Stalking Awareness Month, I wanted to remind you that stalking — including online stalking and cyber-stalking — are leading indicators of domestic violence.

    If you see a woman struggling, say something. Offer online resources. And share Tiffany Haddish’s book. There is hope for women out there who endure the pain and shame of stalking and are looking for a kindred spirit.

    In that way, I can’t recommend the book enough.


    I’m off to Florida to deliver a keynote speech to people who own shipping and delivery companies. 
    The association put my photo on the cover of their conference brochure. They trust me to deliver a fabulous experience on Saturday morning.

    Am I nervous? No, not about the speech. While there’s always room for improvement, I can stand on stage and deliver a competent keynote speech. An outline of a good speech looks something like this: Here’s a story. Here’s a lesson. Do things differently. Repeat 3-5 times. Wrap it up.

    What I fear is the energy after a speech. After I step off stage, I’m pumped. I can run a mile in five minutes, punch a jerk in his face, and wrestle an alligator. When you deliver a good keynote speech, it’s hard not to feel energized. When it’s a disaster, it’s difficult not to be manic.

    Most of the time, I have a drink and spend the rest of a conference with friends. My energy goes into a vessel of champagne and conversation. This time, I’ll be alone.

    So, I’m bringing my running gear and a bathing suit. I’ll also have my Kindle. I might do something touristy, treat myself to a spa appointment, or simply explore the local area. I’m not sure. Then I’m coming home the following morning.

    It’s a new year, and I want to adopt new habits. I gave up cream in my coffee as my New Year’s resolution, but that’s not a game changer. It would be great to step off the stage, feel good about my performance, and do something healthy and productive with the rest of my day.

    Wish me luck and have a great weekend! 

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