Money management is no joke.

In yesterday’s post, I took you through a rambling financial summary of my mid-twenties. Short version: I made plenty of money but couldn’t rub two nickels together.

Now it’s 2018, I still don’t know how to save any money. I have two things going for me, though. The first is my partner is a saver. The second is I’m blessed with good friends who’ve offered excellent financial advice.

Here is what I’ve learned.

Keep Up with the Right Joneses

If you want to freak someone out, remind them of their limitations and tell them they can go no further. Food. Alcohol. Spending. That’s a blueprint for an emotional disaster.

Growing up, I lived in a 1000 square foot home that had no air-conditioning and one working toilet with eight kids and a few women with irritable bowel disease. It’s now worth over $300K because of an insane real estate market that I don’t understand. Here’s what I do know: I’ll never live below my means again unless something has gone wrong with my life.

If you want to encourage someone to save more money and spend less cash, you need a different approach. I believe you should live slightly below your neighbors.

Right now, I have a mix of neighbors. Some have big TVs, boats and vacation homes. The people across the street from me who live in the woods have a tennis court, and one dude rides around my block on a Segway. But I have other neighbors who live sensibly and drive Ford pickup trucks that are older than Facebook.

Whenever I think about making a big purchase, I think about this guy on the corner named Frank. He cuts his own grass (one of the few in my neighborhood) and washes his own car. He’s always doing yard work, dresses like his wife shops at Sears, and seems happy. He is retired, has hobbies that may or may not involve the NRA, and waves whenever I drive past his house.

Frank isn’t keeping up with anybody and answers to no one. Find your Frank and get to know him a little more. Keep up with that lifestyle minus the NRA.

Don’t Waste Money on Looking Good for Work

As a professional speaker and HR blowhard, I have a weird job. People judge my words, but they also judge my appearance. Literally, people in audiences around the world listen to my keynote speeches and then write things like, “She’s a B+ speaker in a frilly dress.” And I’m like, hey, B+ is good.

My job requires an investment in my appearance. Your job is nothing like mine. You work in restaurants, hospitals, universities, libraries, and corporate headquarters. You work alongside people who look like they haven’t washed their hair since last Tuesday.

Resist the urge to be the prettiest marketing assistant, the person with the best socks/scrubs/handbags, or the best-dressed dude in HR. Spend whatever you want to spend on your appearance because it makes you feel good, but don’t spend money to compete on looks and appearances at work.

And remember this: If you were truly attractive, you wouldn’t need a job. You’d be a model in Miami and living on some Russian oligarch’s yacht. Who wants that life? Oh, wait, everybody? Okay, not me. And not you.

Business Development is a Lie

When I first worked in HR, I always paid for other people’s lunches. I saw it as an act of karma. If I pay for your meal — or buy the coffee at Starbucks — you will have my back and help me throughout my career. Unfortunately, the collective “you” let me down. And I learned that nobody remembers who bought the last round of drinks, they only remember that it wasn’t them.

There are legitimate reasons to buy lunch, but most people buy a round of drinks or pick up dinner because they want to be liked. And ask yourself, “Do I want to build a business or do I want people to like me?”

The fastest way to financial freedom is to stop spending money so that people will like you. That’s not business development. That’s a path towards bankruptcy.

Pay Yourself First

My friend Don MacPherson has been saving 20% of his salary for his entire adult life. We talked about financial planning on Let’s Fix Work, and Don was able to build a tech company and survive the recession because he paid himself first.

Paying yourself first means investing in your future. Paying yourself first means you won’t be poor when you’re old. Paying yourself first means you never have to say yes to a soul-crushing job in a toxic work environment.

Don sold his tech company to Aon and started his life. He has two young daughters and is now on sabbatical. And you can be like Don, too, if you a) live like my neighbor Frank and keep your lifestyle simple and b) stop spending money on work-related appearance expenses and c) find some chump to buy your Starbucks and lunch.

Now let’s be honest. I’m slinging hash on this blog — and not living on the beach — because I can’t follow my financial advice all that well; however, I’ve followed it enough to keep myself out of Corporate America and working as a freelance writer, speaker, consultant, and entrepreneur.

But I know this: to fix work, fix yourself. You’re not a healthy adult who can make good choices about work if you’re not managing your money a little better. Let’s get over our shame and fix our finances as if our lives depend on it. Because, honestly, it does.


I was one of those Millennials you love to hate who had no kids, lived in a big city, and struggled to make ends meet while earning $65,000/year when I was twenty-six years old.

(Well, except I’m not a Millennial.) 

It feels like $65,000 was real money back in the day, but it wasn’t. First, I wasn’t married. My boyfriend didn’t want to commit to a long-term relationship, so I went hunting for a new place to live in Chicago. The cheapest apartment I could find that wasn’t infested with cockroaches and near my sister (who was a teenager and living with her father because our mother’s house was unstable) was about $1400/month after rent, insurance, and utilities.

That’s a mortgage payment in some small cities. In Chicago, it was a third-floor-walk-up with no A/C in a semi-safe neighborhood.

After payroll taxes, housing costs and health insurance contributions, I was stretched thin. But I had to make a $1000+ student loan payment to Sallie Mae every month. Then there were additional fixed costs like fuel, car insurance, city stickers, and public transportation passes for the days when it snowed and I couldn’t drive my car down the side-streets of Chicago. 

Plus I had other necessary personal expenses like cat food, vet bills, medical prescriptions, contact lenses, glasses, doctor copays, tampons, birth control, and food. Pap smears weren’t free back then, and it was cheaper to visit Planned Parenthood than use my health insurance coverage.

(So much for working in HR and improving the employee experience.)

On top of all that, many of my friends were getting married. David’s Bridal is a bitch, but I wanted to honor my relationships and take part in weddings. I could only afford to do that a few times. After spending too much money on marriages destined to fail, I had to look at my budget and say no when people asked me to be a bridesmaid.

(“Can I do a reading?” That question alone would save me $500 repeatedly.)

And I mentioned my sister who lived nearby. She was a teenager and had little money. While her father provided a roof over her head, there were other things she needed beyond his budget. So, she worked at the mall after school, and I gave her a $100/month to use towards lunch, personal health products, and whatever else she needed.

You know what wasn’t on my $65,000/year HR manager budget? 

Avocado toast, fancy clothing, regular savings, retirement, vacation, entertainment, gym memberships, candle parties, internet, drinking money, brunch, or an emergency fund for car repairs or significant life events. 

My CHRO at Kemper Insurance would criticize what I would wear to work. She gave me gift cards to places like Ann Taylor and J.Crew to buy clothes — and it was a kind (although passive-aggressive) gesture — but a $100 gift card doesn’t go far in those stores. And I would’ve preferred gas money.

About a year into living on my own, I needed my credit cards to stay afloat. I had two allergic reactions (to Compazine and some fruit) and went to the ER. That took forever to pay off. Then my mom got sick a few times between 2000—2002, and I had to take time off and care for her. When I ran out of PTO, my time off was unpaid.

Also, Sallie Mae didn’t give a shit about my finances. That payment was non-negotiable. So, on weekends, I worked part-time as a docent at an art museum. I babysat for some of my coworkers. The hustle wasn’t pretty (and there was no Uber) but I did whatever I could do to stay solvent.

When my CHRO at Kemper Insurance found out I was broke, it horrified her. We’d worked together at a previous company, and she saw herself as a mother-figure. We sat down and reviewed my expenses. Things were tight, and she expected to lecture me on cutting cable and spending less cash on entertainment, but the joke was on her because I was stealing cable TV and had no life outside of work.

During the meeting, she said, “I’m proud of you for living this simply.” 

I’m not a praise-junky, so I asked my CHRO for a raise. Other people in similar roles at Kemper who were 10+ years older than me were earning more money. Rookie mistake, the meeting was over. She told me I was still paying my dues in life, and you don’t get a raise just because you have access to an HR system and you can see the institutional pay inequities. 

Then she gave me a lecture about cutting deeper — why did you order pizza this month? — and told me to find cheaper car insurance.

But I was already living a minimalist life. My existence was so inadequate that someone broke into my apartment and there was nothing to steal. I had a 13″ TV and an old company laptop, and the guy was like — nah, no thanks, not worth it. 

Eventually, my CHRO left the company, and the new VP of HR gave me a raise to $72,000 so I wouldn’t quit. That helped. Then I learned the debt-snowball method and tried to pay down my debt. Dave Ramsey isn’t my jam, but his methods work.

And, thankfully, my boyfriend and I got back together. I could merge my credit cards and use the reallocated rent payment towards my debt. And my boyfriend became my husband, which lowered my health insurance costs. Our combined household income expanded because we weren’t duplicating expenses, and I caught up with my bills.

But it was messy. And it makes me forever sympathetic towards anybody with financial problems. 

Money problems start long before you spend any money. If you’re born poor, good luck. Go to college? Well, that’s a blessing and a curse. Student loans are crippling young American families and you can’t shake that bill with bankruptcy. Student loans follow you until you die. Speaking of bankruptcy, most of them are related to accidents and illness. And nearly all of our necessary expenses like housing, health insurance, and transportation have exploded while real wages haven’t kept up. 

Also, it’s not like average people are walking around in designer clothing. Most of us look like slobs at work. Sure, many of us have mobile phones. But it’s because got rid of our landlines, which weren’t cheap, and use our mobile phones for everything. 

Talking about money with my CHRO was one of the most humbling and humiliating experiences of my life. People love to lecture you about bills, but they’re just talking to themselves as a warning not to be like you.

So, in tomorrow’s blog posts, I’ll share my ideas on how you can fix your finances and set yourself up for success. If you fix your money, you have freedom. And you’ll never have to listen to your boss — who earns six-figures and had a husband with health insurance benefits and a solid retirement account — lecture you on eating pizza again, again.

Amen to that.


The HR community has always been five years behind the rest of the business world, and, when it comes to the concept of influence, things are no different.

A few years ago, several members of my HR/tech/blogging family were criticized for allegedly taking money in exchange for posting tweets and content that weren’t marked as ads. Now, that was called “advocacy” and “an influencer campaign” in 2011, but, in the world of HR, it looked like dirty money.

There was a ton of drama involved in this debate, and several people were accused of being biased and deceitful. There was no due process, and numerous bloggers were banned from conferences. It’s not lost on me that all of the bloggers were women, while men who run analyst firms — and take money from just about anybody with a wallet or a Venmo account — were allowed to conduct business as usual.

The whole thing made me sick. These women may or may not have accepted money in exchange for promoting products or services, but who cares? They were called whores and bitches and much worse. I heard it with my own ears and jumped to their defense. It got me nowhere, and, ultimately, lumped in with women who like to cause trouble. I didn’t attend many HR tech conferences for a few years because of this nonsense.

Time has passed since the HR technology community held its witch hunt, and now we’ve got a new development in our marketplace — an official influencer and advocacy program being run by a notable marketing firm.

And that’s fine. Welcome to 2012. The top songs are “Somebody That I Used To Know” by Gotye featuring Kimbra, “Call Me Maybe” by Carly Rae Jepsen, and “We Are Young” by fun featuring Janelle Monae.

“Toniiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight, we are young.”

I still like the song.

The founders of this new HR influence program asked me — what do you think of our idea? Is the market ready for this program?

Hm. I raised my hand with a lot of questions.

How will you stay compliant with FTC guidelines on advertising? Will your ads be transparent? And how do you define influence? Who moves the needle? Your program can see social reach and resonance but are you measuring other markers of influence like private speaking events, curated groups, appearance in the mainstream media, email lists and consulting relationships?

I brought up a lot of good points, I was told. Would I ever join an HR influencer community?

I was like — no way but good luck to you.

So, flash forward to this moment, the HR technology community has an official influencer program. They’re trying to influence HR in the most basic ways. People are being paid per blog post and tweet. And it’s not hard to tell which pieces of content are sponsored — not because they’re marked as ads — because they’re odd and incongruent with the author’s tone of voice and style.

I wish the program well, but these types of endeavors are dated. I was part of an influencer campaign with the BlogHer community back in 2007. And, even back then, advertisers found it tough to capitalize on social mentions.

If I were starting an influence program in the HR space, I’d start a talent agency. I’d represent the top five people. Everything else falls under the law of diminishing returns. And I’d create a program of sponsorships, events, content, and training — internally for HR tech sales teams and externally for HR practitioners — to lift everybody up.

This agency would be a union of the best and brightest influencers in the HR space, and they wouldn’t be paid to tweet. They’d be paid to think and communicate.

That’s how you do influence in 2018 and beyond.


We get it. You aren’t a tube of toothpaste. But you still need a personal brand. In fact, you already have one whether you realize it or not. The question is, are you going to take charge of it? Today, Laurie talks with personal brand expert, Jennifer McClure, about what a personal brand is, why you need to develop yours, and how it can help you excel in your professional career.

  • Jennifer will be the first to tell you that she doesn’t like the term “personal brand,” but it’s the best one she’s got. You can also think of it as your reputation, and when you consider it as your professional reputation, that makes it a lot more important, doesn’t it? We’re talking about people wanting to work with or for you, getting clients, being promoted, and more. It’s your career advancement, plain and simple.
  • So how do you develop your personal brand? Think about Oprah Winfrey. She’s got one of the strongest personal brands in the world. Her message, live your best life, is known around the world. But her story hasn’t all been cake and roses; there are some negative experiences associated with her brand, and Jennifer explains how Oprah has dealt with it. She also shares how you can be as intentional as Oprah when you are defining your own personal brand.
  • One big mistake people make is that they try to copy someone else’s personal brand. As you can imagine, that comes off as terribly inauthentic. With that said, you CAN take inspiration from other people. See what they’re doing well, what parts of their message resonates with you. What can you adopt while still keeping your uniqueness at the forefront? Laurie and Jennifer discuss, and Jennifer also reveals who she considered her mentor and sought to emulate.
  • There are another few traps you’ll need to avoid in developing your personal brand: don’t overthink it or force it, and make sure your actions and words line up. A good way to tell is whether you’re getting the opportunities you want. Do people describe you the way you intended them to? How do your colleagues introduce you? Jennifer talks about what to do if your personal brand isn’t working for you.
  • Laurie shares the story of trying to be the buttoned-up, serious HR lady for the book she’s writing, and how she couldn’t even finish it until she did what came naturally, and that was to be herself. Jennifer chimes in with some very insightful thoughts on Laurie’s personal brand and what makes it so strong.
  • The tables are turned, and Laurie asks Jennifer what her own personal brand is. The response is humbling, and it’s exactly how YOU should think about how to live with your own brand. More importantly, how to take control of it. One of the key takeaways is that sometimes your brand needs to be audience-specific.
  • Sometimes we don’t like the reputations we have. It’s a challenge to change them; once another person has formed their idea of you, it’s a mental shortcut they’ll use repeatedly because it’s easier. So how do you go about changing your own personal brand if you don’t like it? Laurie digs in with a tough question, and Jennifer steps up to answer it without hesitation, and it’s an answer you need to hear if the attention you’re getting isn’t the attention you want.
  • Finally, we need to broach the topic of negative feedback that isn’t deserved. Jennifer shares the story of her first major keynote speech and the one comment afterward that has haunted her to this day. Laurie has a story to share, too, and they talk about what to do when people try to label you in ways that hurt.

The DIY HR Handbook

Wouldn’t you love to get your hands on Laurie’s no-holds-barred, honest DIY HR Handbook for employees and pros alike? Download it for free!

Jennifer McClure

FREE DOWNLOAD: Personal Brand Workbook

Impact Makers Podcast







Michael Hyatt

Steve Brown

Making Oprah

Making Donahue


My HR and recruiting brethren are flummoxed. The biggest problem with the job market isn’t stagnant wages or a crisis in leadership. It’s that candidates are ghosting right now.

Ghosting! Like we’re teenagers!

Corporate leaders tell me it’s impossible to find capable people to fill open job requisitions or even show up for interviews. When they extend an offer and agree on a starting date, candidates never show up for the first day of work.

They call it ghosting, and it’s a lie.

I’m sure this version of “candidate ghosting” has happened a few times because people are awful. However, ghosting mostly occurs when recruiters and hiring managers bring candidates in for a job interview and never follow-up after the meeting.

Regardless, the recruiting-industrial complex®™ wants you to believe companies are working hard to put Americans back to work, but Americans just don’t want to work. They want to do opioids and ghost. But don’t be fooled. These are handy narratives that indolent corporate professionals use to justify all kinds of behaviors from ageism to bigotry to indifference.

“We can’t find candidates. People are ghosting us.”

They’re whining like a bunch of middle-school girls about how life is unfair. Also, mom won’t let me get an Instagram account. I could die.

So, it’s my full-time job to tell you not to believe the hype around ghosting or “the ongoing war for talent.” Instead, get smarter. Here’s what’s truly happening in the job market.

1. Companies don’t want to hire anybody. People are an expensive hassle, and, even though we’re facing record unemployment, companies are risk-averse and would instead leave a position vacant — and interview 1000 candidates — instead of taking a chance on someone new.

2. Companies only want to hire young people without defects. I can’t tell you how many times recruiters and HR professionals use the word “unemployable” to describe applicants over the age of 35. You are unemployable if you’re older, expensive, opinionated, ornery, fat, disabled, short, gay, transgender, have natural hair, wear the wrong clothes, not far enough along in your career to justify a recruiter’s attention, too far along in your career to seem loyal, or look anything like “trouble.”

3. Companies simultaneously hate younger workers. Young Millennials and Gen Z workers are spoiled, impatient, taught by a broken public school system, illiterate, and obsessed with celebrity culture. They lack the maturity needed to get work done, so positions stay open.

4. Everybody is way too judgy. Recruiters don’t look at resumes for long, and, when they do, they judge you based on font and presentation instead of the content of the CV. Hiring managers still use interviews to screen for culture and fit without having a consistent definition of what those two words mean. We assess candidates on personality, a tone of voice, smell, enthusiasm, articulateness, and values without benchmarking what success looks like in an organization. And we get it wrong all the time and hire people who blow it. Or we get it right and hire someone who is awesome, but we’re still surprised and disappointed when employees act like capitalists and quit for more money or more compelling work.

What a mess. And nobody — and I mean nobody — is being honest about what’s happening inside HR departments and recruiting shops.

Do you never want to hear the word “ghosting” again? Looking for solutions besides getting rid of recruiters and staying out of the job market? Here are my thoughts.

1. Support universal health care and basic income. Let people contribute to our society based on aptitude and not a desperate need to feed their families. There’s more than enough to go around.

2. Fix your finances. Improve your money so you can live on less and chase your dreams — or chase your kids in the park on a Tuesday afternoon — instead of chasing the almighty dollar. It’s not about the four-day workweek. It’s about the no-day workweek. You have autonomy when you don’t have debt.

3. Know better, do better. If you work in HR or recruiting — or if you’re a corporate professional who leads a team — step up and don’t work for companies that keep jobs open for six months and then complain that they can’t find someone. Got a job opening? Fill it. Find an older worker or a veteran. Find a student or a non-traditional worker. Don’t have the power or influence to change your company’s behaviors? Improve your communication skills, or quit that job. We’ve got record unemployment. Go work for a company that’s doing it right.

What’s wrong with the job market has been wrong since the early 2000s: companies are powerful, cheap, and hoarding profits at the top. Workers are risky, expensive, and impede profitability. There is no skills gap. There isn’t a shortage of talent. There is tension in the job market because companies won’t pay what people are worth, won’t stop discriminating, and won’t share their profits with the people who make it happen.

Anybody who tells you otherwise has got it wrong.


Back in 2004, nobody knew anything about the social internet.

I started blogging at Blogspot under an assumed name, and it was a grand old time. Then, around 2007, I launched Punk Rock HR. Although I used my real name on the website, times and trends were weird. A catchy alias was still very important to establish a character and brand.

But I wasn’t all that punk rock. The title of my blog was just an insult — I wore Doc Martens to work in 1995, and my boss said something like, “Who do you think you are? Punk Rock HR?”

And I was like, “You look warm. Why don’t you take off one of those eleven fancy scarves tied around your neck before you pass out from a hot flash?”

HR bitches always be hatin’!

Thanks to horizontal envy and female-on-female competition, an identity was born. However, it wasn’t an identity that could sustain itself throughout my 30s. So, I started blogging under The Cynical Girl because that’s what my high school boyfriend called me.

Finally, in 2012, I was like — enough of this nonsense. My friend Josh called me Laurie Fucking Ruettimann while making fun of my diva-like qualities, and I decided to drop the middle initial and just start writing under my real name.

I’m here to tell you that it was the best thing I’ve ever done for my professional career.

Catchy names and identities are cute, and they are the hallmark of early writers and content creators who are feeling themselves out. What’s your tone? Who’s your audience? Why do you write? You can do that under fake identities and funny personal brands.

But you can write about HR, recruiting, talent, benefits, relationships, communication, leadership, AI, technology, blockchain, RPO, organizational development, organizational effectiveness, and executive compensation under your own name. In fact, you should.

While you’re being insecure and assuming an identity, people who are less interesting and less funny than you are mopping up the market with articles about the future of work. And while you think you’re being catchy and creative with your hokey identity, you’re not.

You’re being ignored by people who should know your name.

So, it’s fine to be a newbie and create memes and blogs and movements under an assumed or secondary identity and with 72 other social media accounts. But don’t do it for long. The world is waiting to be entertained and educated in your authentic, honest voice.


I’ve got a nice little community at Patreon where we’re building the future of Let’s Fix Work while also having a little fun.

This week, we’re talking about taking the day off. I’m still in my pajamas. It’s glorious.

We’d love you to join our crew. Any contribution opens the door to conversations about the future of work, and I appreciate your support.


I’m known for giving direct feedback and advice. Doesn’t always feel good to hear it. However, if you ask for my thoughts, I’m not gonna waste your time. On the other hand, I don’t take feedback very well unless it comes from people who hate me or rivals. Neither constituency has a vested interest in propping up my ego, which is why the comments are always honest.

Last week, I sent out a survey to friends and asked them for input on how I can monetize Let’s Fix Work.

(You can take it here. I’m like — should I do an e-course? Coaching? How about a revenue share?)

Over the years, I’ve learned that my colleagues have a different feedback style than mine. Buried in their gentle praise and encouragement? The truth. Takes a while to get there, and I’m impatient, which is why I sent the survey to people who don’t like me — fellow HR bloggers, rival speakers, consultants who are in my industry but talk shit about me — and asked for their honest insights, too.

One of them picked up the phone and said, “Laurie, why are you wasting my time with this shit? Finish your book, get connected with speakers bureaus, and go big. Television networks, NPR, a regular column in USA Today. Then it’s time to write your memoir.”

And immediately I regretted asking for feedback.

He said, “Remember when you wrote about running, food, your cats, and travel? Remember when you wrote about your family? We tolerate HR and ‘Let’s Fix Work’ to get to the good stuff.”

Thank you, I’m dead. Are you sure you wouldn’t buy an e-course from me?

“There is a business model for e-courses and online coaching. But that’s not your model. And you’re three years behind the market, anyway.”

Whoa, okay, fabulous.

“You’re sitting on a million dollar business of being yourself. Get your head right, level-up, and go all in on your life. Tell us those stories. What are you waiting for?”

Hm. I guess was waiting for this conversation.

So, that felt great. But I’m finalizing the Let’s Fix Work proposal, this week, and not creating an online curriculum to help you land your dream job. And that’s fine because awesome women like JT O’Donnell, Alison Green and Cy Wakeman are on that path.

You gotta love feedback from people who are detached from your drama. The best advice you can receive is a collection of wise words from someone who doesn’t give a shit. While it doesn’t feel good to be on the receiving end of pragmatic feedback, it’s good to know there are people in the world who will give-it-to-me-straight so I can continue to do that for you.

That’s what my entire career is all about.


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The world is small and good. Social media and the internet is pretty great.

Years ago, my husband worked for Monsanto/Searle/Pharmacia. He made drugs. The entity was acquired by Pfizer, so we moved to Kalamazoo for his career. I also worked for Pfizer and had an office in Building 88 in Kalamazoo, which was a modernist gem. Didn’t spend enough time there because I traveled too much.

The building was torn down a few years ago, and I wrote about it.

Just yesterday, someone sent me this note:

What a joy to have found you. I was recently in Kalamazoo, MI driving along Portage Road. I looked out the window and said: “Building 88 is gone!.”

Today on the Internet I found your article about said building. My dad spent his entire working life employed by The Upjohn Company. He worked in the basement of Building 41 and was Vice President of Personnel. He started after graduate school, went into the Army during World War II, and then came back to Upjohn until his retirement in the 1980’s.

I was in Building 88 a few times, including lunch. It was ahead of its time and a tribute to the era of 1950 and 1960’s America. It would not appeal to all but it was done very well by the architects and builders.

Those were the days. Upjohn had its own fleet of buses for employee transportation to and from work.
They had barbershops, subsidized cafeterias, on-site pharmacy (you could buy a 16 oz bottle of vanilla extract for cooking purposes), an outdoor picnic area and so on. There was the veterinary unit, the agricultural unit, the expansion into Puerto Rico. The fleet of corporate aircraft. The Unipet dog treats in the ceramic bowl with bell ringing lid.

Many small and medium-sized cities are never the same after a local iconic company merges or is taken over by entities out of town.

Got any good Dorothy Dalton stories? How about Sue Parish’s pink WWII P 40 Warhawk?

One could not be a Kalamazoo resident and not have in their home a supply of Kaopectate and a supply of Unicap vitamins.

One last unique place and thing related to Upjohn. Brook Lodge

Thanks for listening. Best of luck with your career.

I love how the son of a VP of personnel found my blog and reached out. What a joy.

The internet is pretty great. Don’t let the naysayers tell you otherwise.


I don’t believe in patting adults on the back for being adults, and I don’t believe in celebrating great places to work.

Are you a great place to work? Fabulous. Congratulations for doing the bare minimum. You’re not a great place to work? Close your doors. You don’t deserve to be in business.

You’re either a great place to work or you’re not.
Your employees love working there or they don’t.
Your working conditions are humane or they aren’t.

It’s childish to celebrate doing the right thing, and I’m done praising companies and leaders for adulting.

What’s worse are those “Best CEOs” lists. I’m especially done with CEOs who extoll the virtue of “culture” and pretend like they’re doing something right when they pay attention to employment issues like diversity, inclusion and the employee experience. Is it ever okay not to be a great CEO? Should I applaud you for doing your job? Are you three years old? Did you go pee pee on the potty? Do you want recognition for showing up?

Besides, those lists are biased. There’s advertising and consulting revenue behind the scenes that may or may not influence where a company is placed on those lists. We don’t know because the selection process is rarely ever transparent.

The world needs role models, but, as George HW Bush once said, the world doesn’t need to celebrate the soft bigotry of low expectations. I love it when companies and leaders treat their workers well, but it’s a sorry state of affairs when, in 2018, companies jump on those “best places to work” lists and make it into a marketing campaign.


Instead of celebrating great places to work, it’s time to flip the switch and use evidence to determine the worst places to work.

Who pays poorly? Where do women and protected minorities struggle to earn equal pay? What companies have the most EEOC complaints? Which hospitals in what part of the country are treating the most egregious safety-related injuries? Which companies and leaders have settled worker lawsuits? For how much?

One big database that tracks employee-related issues. That’s all we need to figure out the companies who are great and the companies who fail their workers.

Want to be known as a great place to work? Is your CEO one of the best? Don’t show us your lists, awards and accolades. Show us your data.

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