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I am finally over the hump of PRK surgery.

What’s PRK surgery? It’s like LASIK to correct eyesight, except it’s not like LASIK at all. Don’t let anybody tell you otherwise. It’s surgery and much more invasive.

PRK works like this: They remove the outer layer of your cornea and then reshape your eyeball with a laser. A doctor inserts contact lenses in your eyes, and they send you home with prescription eye drops. The protective contact lens is removed after 5-7 days, your corneas heal in a week, and your vision stabilizes in a week to six months.

Yes, it could take six months.

PRK is not an easy procedure. It all happens without anxiety and pain meds in North Carolina because people are addicted to benzos and opioids. The eye care crew at my doctor’s office recommended a rotating cocktail of Ibuprofen and Tylenol, both of which kill my stomach, so I skipped pain medicine entirely.

It was no fun.

My vision has not quite stabilized, but it’s much better. Who needs vision when you have a team of awesome people in your life to help you out?

PRK is a team sport. My husband was a champ and earned a second doctorate in marriage after nailing blankets over my bedroom windows because my eyes were incredibly light-sensitive. And he administered my eye drops when I was shaking in pain, fed me soup when I was too exhausted to eat, and did all the household chores.

PRK surgery is excruciating. Most doctors downplay how much it hurts, but you should take this seriously if you’re considering the procedure. I’ve had my tonsils out as an adult, and that was very painful. PRK was worse.

PRK surgery keeps you housebound for at least a week. Maybe more. The first five days were tough. I couldn’t drive or watch TV. My friends sent kind packages, called me on the phone because I couldn’t text, and offered to bring grilled cheese and champagne to the house. They made sure that my real life wasn’t too awful or boring. I had help around the house and access to a teenager who was more than happy to sort through boring email or look at blog posts at a moment’s notice.

PRK surgery gets worse before it gets better. My sister sent a lovely bouquet of flowers, but it looked like three bouquets because I had triple vision. So, instead of dwelling on the negative, I was grateful for the love. And, instead of having three cats, I had 6-9 cats depending on the day. I wasn’t lonely, and Roxy made sure to plant herself by my face and give me smooches to help me heal.

PRK is not LASIK. And it’s annoying. It feels like I should say that I’m grateful to be out of glasses, but I would not recommend PRK surgery to anybody in the market for laser eye surgery. Even if it’s fancy, PRK is not worth it. The place where I went was on a list of providers from my health insurance, but it wasn’t the most cutting-edge surgical unit in the world. And they weren’t honest about the recovery and how much I would rely on other people for support.

So, thanks for all of your support, these past few weeks. Appreciate everybody who moved meetings or listened to me complain about my privileged life. You get a coupon, and I have your back. That’s why I’m warning you off PRK. In retrospect, glasses and contact lenses weren’t so bad.

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Many years ago, I saw Anthony Bourdain speak in Raleigh. He appeared on stage with a beer and a few pieces of paper. He seemed both addled and sedated. I knew it would be a long night when he began reading verbatim from his notes. 

We showed up expecting stories from an intellectual mastermind, but what we got were a series of unfunny anecdotes anchored on the appearance and quirky behaviors of Sandra Lee, a TV personality on the Food Network. The whole bit was stupid and offensive.

I wrote about the experience on my blog and said that Anthony Bourdain is a piece of shit. The room was packed, the audience was on his side, and he alienated quite a few of us with his misogynistic language.

Many years passed, and I forgot all about that post. In fact, I watched his show on CNN. Every time he traveled around the world and spoke about people and culture, I was reminded of his great book called “Kitchen Confidential.” 

Then, when Tony Bourdain became a vocal advocate for the #MeToo movement in 2017, I remembered my old blog post. 

The internet is a harsh place, and, with hindsight, it was wrong of me to add to that cruelty. My brand of hostile sarcasm and cynicism was unique in the early 2000s, but, in the light of day, it’s no better than Tony Bourdain’s comments about Sandra Lee. 

And, as a public speaker, I’ve matured and learned that you bring whatever issues you have with you on stage (addiction, insecurities, fear) and hope that your audience appreciates your effort and message. All of us have bad nights where we blow it. One shaky performance doesn’t mean that you’re a bad person or lazy. It was wrong of me to make those statements.

Anthony Bourdain’s excellent work on #MeToo and his compelling comments about human resources prompted me to rethink my toxic behavior on the internet.

So, I pulled my awful blog post down in a heartbeat and hoped he never saw it.

And then I worked with a community organizer and event planner to pull together a #MeToo conference. Anthony Bourdain became our “dream speaker” because of his progressive and heartfelt advocacy for the women assaulted by Harvey Weinstein.

Unfortunately, I never met Tony again. And his death reminds me those unkind moments on the internet accumulate in our society and have a lasting impact on our collective unconscious. 

So, in honor of Anthony Bourdain, I’m asking you to look at your own noxious behavior. Have you written something unkind and cruel? Do you have a blog post that is harsh? Have you tweeted something nasty about someone’s looks or appearance?

Today’s the day to glance at your archives and take it down. 

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Chances are you’ve already seen the Gender Equity Iceberg, and today, Laurie talks with Adrienne Murphy, Ph.D., of Dimitry|Murphy & Associates. Adrienne is a wicked smart psychologist, business leader, and consultant who works with professional women to align their jobs with their values. But what’s more is that Adrienne helps these women find their voice, develop their careers, and break through glass ceilings. Even so, her common-sense approach to careers and life can help men, too.

  • Adrienne doesn’t just believe that work is broken. She has proof. She held a focus group filled with professional women who have opted out of the workforce and instead, spent their time doing ‘meaning-making’ work. These are the types of women, along with first-time professionals, are the focus of Adrienne’s work.
  • When Adrienne works with these women, she has two primary things to teach. First, your career is an asset, just like your portfolio. Second, if you want to be something more than a director, you need to know yourself. Adrienne explains what she means and gives some great examples of how to do both.
  • Laurie and Adrienne dig into the layer beneath opting out of the workforce by asking why these women choose to follow a different path, and the reason might surprise you. Naturally, there’s the money, the hierarchy, the inequality, the glass ceiling, but that’s not all. Adrienne believes that it’s also values that clash with one other within a single woman.
  • It’s not always easy to use your voice when you don’t have words to describe the problems you experience. Adrienne has some powerful advice for you that includes sitting with your feelings for enough time to give them words, and then being mindful of how you communicate them to others.
  • Have you seen the Gender Equity Iceberg infographic in your social media feeds? (If not, find it here!) Laurie and Adrienne take a closer look at the iceberg theory, from legal to cultural issues, and what to do about them. In addition, the illegal actions that occur won’t go away until the cultural behaviors, those below the waterline on the iceberg, are dealt with as well.

  • Would you believe that some companies are actually recognizing fathers and their role in parenting by giving them paternity leave? It’s this and a few other heartwarming things Adrienne shares that gives her hope about the future of work.
  • Speaking of the future of work, Adrienne has an interesting viewpoint of how technology will help people map out their career path. But what is REALLY fascinating is how she believes that women have influenced the workforce in such a way that the traditional hierarchy will give way to project-based organization.
  • Adrienne has some beautiful words to share around #itdoesnthavetobethisway. You might not be able to make change in your life immediately, but with a plan and an open mind, your life doesn’t have to be this way.

Links from this episode:

Adrienne Murphy

Twitter

Facebook

Website

The Gender Equity Iceberg (Download)

Other links:

Jane Harmon

The DIY HR Handbook

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Not a day goes by that someone doesn’t ask me if they should quit their job. It’s such an ever-present question in my life that we produced a bonus podcast episode that will be released later in the week. (Sign up for LFW updates here.)

Today’s email question comes from a reader who received a not-so-great performance review back in March and feels like it’s both unfair and unrecoverable. The review was contested, his appeal was overruled, and the lack of “due process” and transparency around how the number was created — along with his very vocal protestations of the process itself — leaves my reader feeling like he has nowhere to go in this company.

“Should I quit my job?”

I’m probably the wrong person to ask because #NeverWork is my goal. There’s plenty of wealth in this world for basic income, and I think the world is better served when people are following their skills and dreams instead of toiling away at bullshit jobs that will kill them.

But, if you have to work, you shouldn’t quit a job before you have another position lined up. More importantly, you shouldn’t leave a job because someone tells you that you’re not good at something. Bad performance review? Negative feedback? Why are you running away from this? Be the kind of person who sticks around to improve your skills on someone else’s dime and, possibly, prove them wrong.

If you get an annual performance review that says you’re bad at collaboration, you have a few options: run away like a baby and prove them right, or collaborate like hell during the next project. Another option is to say, hey, you’re right, I’m bad at collaborating, but I’m good at putting together strategic plans (or whatever). Can we talk about where my skills might add more value to this company?

See, there are 100 paths to success before you walk away from a job. But, if you want to quit, go ahead. You don’t need anybody’s permission. And it’s a fallacy that you have to work in the same job for five years.

Just make sure you know why you’re about to quit. Because if you don’t fix what’s wrong with you, the same thing will happen again and again throughout your career.

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I’m not a huge fan of buzzwords because I have a soul. When you’re podcasting and talking about the world of work, it’s hard to avoid the jargon. That’s why my team made a buzzword bingo scorecard to keep me honest.

And guess what? They made a copy for you to play along as you listen to Let’s Fix Work or attend a boring meeting.

We fully realize that “Let’s Fix Work” sounds a little simplistic and jargony. Is it just that easy? Can we fix work-life balance challenges? How about employee disengagement? Can we fix the North Korea summit, too?

But I believe that if you fix work for yourself, you’ll fix it for others. Put your needs as a healthy adult first, and you’ll make the world of work a better place.

So, have fun with the bingo card and, if you’re interested, sign up for the Let’s Fix Work email list to get weekly updates on our podcast. No spam, no buzzwords, no GDPR updates. Just fun guests who are really trying to make work better for themselves and other people.

Thanks again for listening, and I hope you’re enjoying the show.

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I have a few projects in the works. I’m working on my podcast, running an HR book club, and working on a book proposal for “Let’s Fix Work” with excellent coaching from Public Words.

Some of those projects are easier than others.

The podcast is doing well. The average podcaster gets about 120 downloads an episode. I’m approaching 10x those numbers, and it’s just the beginning. The team at OneStone Creative makes the process easier. I don’t want to be the host of a show where people complain about life, so we’re working on building a community to match listeners with resources to be their own HR.

The HR Books website is a labor of love. I’m working with RepCap Media on the site, and the appetite for learning is out there. But book clubs are flaky and feminine, and HR professionals are very busy. It’s hard to get people to read twelve books a year, even though books are tools for professional development. But if you’re not learning, your career is atrophying. So that’s why I’ve engaged the Community Company to help us think through plans. And SHRM is onboard to be creative and collaborative once the annual conference is over. Good stuff is on the horizon.

The book proposal is genuine and, also, difficult to write when you have eye surgery. (That’s me. I’m five days post-op and feeling better.) Nearly everything is done except my sample chapter. Even with my impaired eyesight, I’ve made progress. Thank god for my summer school typing class in 1990. Memorizing the QWERTY keyboard was the best career move I’ve ever made.

Because I’m focused on those three projects, I’ve killed other potential revenue streams (consulting, writing blog posts, webinars, etc.) and had to limit my public speaking. Nevertheless, I’m still on the road for most of June once my eyes heal. It’s a busy time. And I realize that my three projects might fail.

How will I know if things are going south?

Here’s my advice on when it’s time to kill things.

1. If people offer unsolicited advice and tell you to stick with something, it’s time to let it go. They’re encouraging you because something seems off. Don’t be afraid to get some distance between you and whatever you’re trying to accomplish. Just because you press pause doesn’t mean you’re quitting. Revisions can’t happen without time and reflection. And, even if you stop, you owe nobody an explanation.

2. Quit something if it doesn’t serve a purpose beyond your ego. I mentioned HR Books is a labor of love. Sometimes I’m like, wow, only the same 200 people want to read books. That’s hard on my heart. But if I think about the broader goals of HR Books, I’m inspired to keep working on the project. It’s a site dedicated to leveling up the HR profession and encouraging people to read books on work, politics, meaning, passion, purpose, and identity. If it were just about being famous, I’d have shelved HR Books months ago. The site is about changing the nature of the industry. Can you say the same thing about whatever you’re pursuing? If not, might be time to press pause or pivot.

3. If the only energy you bring to a project is reactionary, it’s time to end it. I’ve written many book proposals and have done a long and winding dance with publishers who want me to write a book about HR or my journey as an entrepreneur. Those book proposals failed because the energy I brought to the table was rooted in a regressive desire to prove my haters wrong. I couldn’t hack it in HR, so I would write a book and show everybody how I’m the queen of the industry. I failed at being a tech entrepreneur, so I would teach everybody about failure. Last year, a friend told me to stop fucking around and be honest with myself. Write the book I’m meant to write. That, my friends, is “Let’s Fix Work.” And it’s hard work, but it’s earnest. Are you bringing the right energy to your endeavors? Heartfelt attempts don’t always succeed, but vain efforts to silence your haters will always fail.

So, that’s my life update and advice on when to quit. There’s no shame in trying something and failing. But, when you try, make sure it’s a noble endeavor and not just a distraction from the hard work you’re meant to do.

Podcasting. Creating community. Writing. That’s what I’m meant to do. What about you?

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Katrina has a unique way of fixing work. She’s blazed a trail into nearly uncharted territory with an audacious goal: to take high volume, low retention jobs and make them not suck. She’s not afraid of a challenge; one of her clients hires people for split-shifts to work with small children. We love kids, don’t get us wrong. But it’s not always easy to work with a group of someone else’s kids. So, Katrina wants to help people find the right job, not just any job.

  • It’s not all on the employee to find the right job, which is why Katrina focuses on teaching the employers what that phrase means. Katrina rounds out her list of places that suffer from high turnover rates. Have you ever held one of these jobs? And if you’re the one hiring for these positions, well. You’ll want to take notes.
  • How does Katrina help these employers? She explains some of the first things she does when she comes in to consult with a company. First among them is taking a psychological profile of the top, most successful, employees in the role.
  • Katrina draws on her own personal experience when working with her clients, and she makes an ‘on the nose’ observation about how she felt in her various roles. She was needed but not valued. Take a moment and let that sink in. Needed but not valued. Katrina has a unique combination of skills which has landed her in a strange array of jobs, and she shares how, no matter the size of the company, no matter the job title, the day-to-day experience rarely changed. And that’s why she started her own company.
  • Laurie makes an interesting assertion that employees rarely grow within a company. Instead, they grow by going from one job to another. This is especially true for Katrina; as a consultant, she hops from one situation to another, and in doing so, she’s fixed work for herself. It wasn’t an easy road for her; she was conditioned to the stability of a guaranteed paycheck every month. Her first stint as an entrepreneur didn’t end well, and it wasn’t because of lack of clients. It was because of fear.
  • Katrina was much more focused for Round 2 of being an entrepreneur. She reveals her mindset and what she did differently this time around, a lesson you can take if you’re ready to break out of your own job and fix work for yourself. Even if your parents were strict military.
  • If you’re currently struggling in YOUR role, Katrina has some fantastic advice. But to start, you have to answer one question. Are you going to stay or are you ready to leave? Staying at a company where you’re unhappy IS a valid choice, but there’s a very important consideration. If you can’t be honest and transparent about your unhappiness, then you need to leave.
  • As a manager, keeping your employees motivated and engaged is a constant battle. So is keeping yourself motivated and engaged. Katrina shares WHY retail jobs are so challenging and it all comes down to one thing: the more humans you have to encounter in one day increases the ratio of assholes you deal with. You might think that good jobs don’t exist in retail jobs. But Katrina says that isn’t true, at least for all people.
  • There is one problem at work that Katrina is currently obsessing over that no one else is even thinking about. It’s the Fallacies of Work, a rote list of do’s and do not’s that somehow still exist from a totally different age, and Katrina smashes every single one of them.

Katrina Kibben:

Three Ears Media Blog

Three Ears Media Website

LinkedIn

Twitter

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!

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So far no one has challenged Laurie on her premise that work is broken. Until today. Eric Barker is the author of the bestselling book, Barking Up The Wrong Tree, and he believes that issues with managing people and organizing them to accomplish things is a perennial challenge. In fact, he doesn’t believe work is broken because it was never fixed in the first place. Dive in with Laurie and Eric in this stimulating conversation about the state of work.

  • Eric explains why he doesn’t think work is broken, and it’s because he believes it was never fixed in the first place. From technology changes to cultural changes, work is a perennial problem, and you might be inclined to agree with him on this point.
  • Aside from loving the title of his book, it was also Laurie’s favorite non-fiction book of 2017. She asks him a pointed question about success. There are many misconceptions, so you might want to check your own beliefs about what success at works really means. Is it the quality of work? Is it the quantity? Does success in one department look the same as success in another? What about from one manager to the next, and personality conflicts? Eric tackles these tough topics and more.
  • Eric shares something EVERY job-searcher should know when they go into an interview. You see, peer pressure isn’t just something that affects teenagers. It affects us at every age, and the most insidious part of it according to Eric is that we don’t even realize it.
  • What is ‘learned helplessness’ at work? It’s when employees don’t have a sense of agency and felt like they actually could make choices, even exercise a single choice. It turns employees into victims, and Eric gives some very solid steps you can take today to pull yourself up from that position.
  • Volunteering can change your life. It’s true, but why? Eric and Laurie talk about the different thing you can do, and it’s not just about helping others. It’s about changing your sense of worth and identity. You aren’t your job. You are a person and we, as people, can easily get caught in destructive loops. And don’t worry; you don’t need to volunteer for 50 hours a week. You can do it for as little as 2 hours and feel the effects.
  • The Venn Diagram of happiness and success definitely overlap, but not completely. Eric and Laurie investigate what it really means when the two overlap, and the tricky areas where they don’t. Does your work environment allow you to do what you do best? Or what if you’re happy with your job but not successful? What’s in store for you when you’re outside of Venn’s sweet spot?
  • Let’s get one thing straight – if you’re going to fix work, you’ll have to start by fixing yourself. This concept can get VERY woo-woo when you listen to some of the inspirational speakers out there. They think they can make change by ‘whispering a few words’ in your ears. Laurie isn’t big on that. Mindfulness and meditation are good, no doubt, but she and Eric have a deep discussion about what kind of self-help is really needed. By the way… it’s your fault.
  • You can’t underestimate the importance of relationships in work and life. So much of the unhappiness in the world is caused by loneliness. Eric lays out some scenarios. Do any of these sound familiar to you in your life? If you’re going to invest in anything, invest in relationships.

Listen to the Spotify Playlist! 

Find Eric:

Website/Blog

LinkedIn

Barking Up The Wrong Tree Book

 

The DIY HR Handbook

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Bill BoormanYou know what can die a fiery death? Influence.

You’re an influencer because you read HR blogs and talk about it at work, your mom is an influencer because she goes to Disney and tells her friends about her trips on Facebook, and your kid is an influencer because he has an Instagram account and does fidget spinner tricks.

The age of influence is over. I’m happy about it. I believe we’re moving towards the era of impact.

My friend Jennifer McClure is ahead of the curve. She started a podcast called Impact Makers and is interviewing people who have sway, magnetism, and a passion for solving problems. Every single one of her guests is focused on serving a community or sharing big ideas. These are individuals doing extraordinary things and sharing their journeys so you can do better.

Jennifer got me thinking about the people impacting my life. From a work perspective, one person who has made an enormous impact on me — and the entire work technology industry — is Bill Boorman. I remember the days before Bill Boorman, and the trade was filled with a lot of myopic product managers and self-loathing sales professionals who hated working in human resources and didn’t see the connection between HR technology and the future of work.

Were there some cool people saying exciting things before Bill? Sure. Did they get press? Of course. However, from the day Bill Boorman stepped out on stage and shared his ideas about systems and processes, you could tell that things were changing. He’s a futurist and an evangelist who cares about the human heart. Whether you know him, the technology that improves people’s lives and allows individuals to do their best work — and get paid for it — garners the attention it deserves because of Bill.

If that’s not the definition of an impact maker, I don’t know what is.

Do you want to solve significant problems in the human resources space? Better make sure you know what you’re talking about because Bill won’t let you ride the coattails of a rising industry and attach your shoddy tech to a movement that’s enabling people to be the best version of themselves at work.

Many people influence purchasing decisions in the HR technology space, but Bill Boorman’s ideas and energy have impacted the current landscape of technology. Also, I’d hate to think where we would be as an industry without him.

So, listen to Jennifer McClure’s podcast. Then think about people who have made an impact in your life or on your job. If you have a second, write a letter of thanks or publish a blog post in praise of people who changed your life.

I know that Bill Boorman has made an impact in my life — and in my industry — and I’m grateful for the opportunity to recognize his work and thank him for his contributions.

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What is the future of work? Katie Augsburger is the Founder and Partner of Future Work Design, an organization that wants to smash the patriarchy and decenter whiteness. Okay – before anyone starts bristling about being pushed out, that’s not her intent. Katie has some amazing ideas of how helping those with least access can benefit all employees.

  • Katie has two answers to the question, ‘How do you fix work?’ The first one is pretty cheeky and involves smashing things, but the second one takes a deeper look at the design of work. But first, she shares a story of walking into a women’s bathroom and finding a row of urinals.
  • We’re told as women to lean into the systems, but they aren’t built for us. Part of what Katie does is to break systems. She talks about how she doesn’t try to get rid of white men; she’s trying to make room for women. If you haven’t heard of the ‘curbside’ effect, then you need to listen to the analogy.
  • Using her theory of the curbside effect, she comes into companies with a radically different way of looking at things. How can we put the least advantaged people in the center of the design, and how will that help everyone succeed?
  • One of the best ways Katie get results is to ask questions. Not the typical questions managers ask quarterly or whatever, but deep reaching questions from the bottom all the way to the top. She talks about how smashing the old system and creating something new has worked out for one of her clients.
  • Companies tend to hire for skills and tech, but fire for behavior and soft skills. It’s this systematized, procedural way of looking at things that create problems. But Katie believes it’s the soft skills, the behaviors, that will make or break the systems and processes.
  • Laurie poses the question: is it harder for companies to hold an open dialogue on gender issues or race issues? Katie and Laurie share their theories on why it’s more difficult to talk about race.
  • Not every company needs to be smashed. Katie shares a case study of a call center that, despite being an undesirable job, has managed to make THEIR work meaningful and impactful to their employees. Another great company Katie likes is Airbnb, and she reveals why.
  • Katie wraps up the episode with her approach to smashing the patriarchy and decentralizing whiteness, and it comes from a place of great compassion. She’s not interested in pushing out anyone who is white or male; instead, she wants to make things better for everyone by making it better for those who are great employees but don’t measure up on the outdated yardstick.
  • Listen to the Spotify Playlist! 
  • Find Katie

  • LinkedIn
  • Website
  • 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!

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