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! 


Hey, guys. Working on two things: the HR Books website and our selections for next month’s #HRBookClub.

The HR Books site is coming along. I believe readers are leaders, and there’s no single place to get decent book reviews on HR books. If you want the best HR books, you have to navigate through sponsored content and spammy websites. There’s a tendency to elevate complex, condescending leadership books and pretend it’s cool for outsiders to hate HR. 

I feel like hating HR is my thing, and it’s also very 2012. 

As we’re building the model and website for HR Books, I’m working on selecting two books for the #HRBookClub in February. The theme is African-American History Month. Until 1976, the month-long observance was only a week. President Ford formalized the month-long celebration in a proclamation:

The last quarter-century has finally witnessed significant strides in the full integration of black people into every area of national life. In celebrating Black History Month, we can take satisfaction from this recent progress in the realization of the ideals envisioned by our Founding Fathers. But, even more than this, we can seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.

Never thought President Ford would look so good, did you?

America has a tough time saying thanks to black people. And sometimes our ideas on how to recognize the month-long observance of African-American History Month show our values and biases. For example, I polled my friends and asking them to suggest book club selections for February. The goal of my book club is to help HR professionals read 12 books a year. It’s an audacious goal because most adults don’t pick up a book after college.

My progressive friends are like, “Have your book club read something by Ta-Nehisi Coates.”

Good suggestion, but one doe not simply read Ta-Nehisi Coates. Nobody will ever just pick up Between the World and Me and dive right into the book if they struggle to read 12 books a year. That’s not how this works.

Other people have suggested topics on Jim Crow, the broken justice system, and books on socio-economic problems in our society. Lots of suggestions relating to civil rights, gun violence and poverty. Just a few recommendations on careers, identity, passion, purpose, and vocation. 

The most important goal of the club? Develop a reading habit in 2018, and I don’t care what you read if I’m being honest. Just read. With that in mind, I made a few choices for February. I will announce the selections next week on HR Books (if it’s up and running, fingers crossed). Stay tuned, and I hope you’ve been enjoying the January selections.

Join me on January 31st at 2 PM ET on Facebook for the first official meeting of #HRBookClub.

Don’t have Facebook? Read the books, anyway. I’ll share the video of our meeting so you can enjoy it later! 


If you’re paying attention to the news, you know Amazon opened a store with no cash registers or tills. Walk in the store, track your purchases with your app, and leave. Abscond? There’s no automation in teaching people a lesson. Bezos himself will hunt you down and beat you into submission to make an example out of you.

If you read the coverage about the new store, we no longer need to fear the United Nations. Amazon has either ended employment as we know it or is making in its grand plan to set up a shadow government and run lives. Could be both.

The Amazon store is another sign that retail — and anything related to food, restaurants, hospitality, hotels — has entered the age of automation. While personal shoppers and assistants are important brand ambassadors at high-end retail stores, Amazon just launched the Echo Look so you can figure out what to wear and ask people for their opinions. Augmented reality will eventually show your body in specific outfits before you buy new pieces of clothing.

(I declined the opportunity to buy the Echo Look early. I’ve got mixed emotions about Amazon’s impact on the labor market. I don’t want to put more people out of work before it’s necessary. Although I’m over those ladies at the Lululemon near my house who make me feel like a watermelon when I try on clothes.) 

And that is where we are headed. No more retail jobs. Likewise, fewer opportunities for kids to get their first paychecks from McDonald’s. If you watch Alexandra Levit’s new TEDxNorthwesternU talk, the near-term future of work eliminates these task-driven jobs and asks people to use creativity to solve problems that robots can’t tackle just yet. 

There’s a spectrum of roles — from housekeeper to a social worker to technical project leader — that require creativity, reflection, and human-to-human connection. So, learn about human behavior and psychology. Translate irrational patterns in work-related activities that can’t be programmed. Discern emotions and feelings. Show empathy and compassion. Come to work (whatever is left of it) and create an experience. Those are some ways you beat the machines and bots. 

You can see why I’m worried about the future of work, right? It makes sense why Amazon’s march towards domination freaks me the hell out, yes? You’re teaching your kids to code and asking them to do five hours of homework for their AP classes. You’re not raising kids who are equipped to earn a living on emotional labor.

God knows you can’t even do it.

I’ve written it before, and I’ll write it again: the future of work will not work for a majority of Americans, and we’ll need policy discussions on artificial intelligence, education, and universal basic income.

Who will lead that fight? Mike Pence or Lindsey Graham? Chuck Schumer? Sheesh, we’re doomed. Maybe Jeff Bezos and Amazon can save us after all. 


America and the Soviet Union were mortal enemies when I was a kid. Ronald Reagan was a good guy leading a fight against the entrenched powers of communism and Orwellianism. Mikhail Gorbachev was a monster and wanted us to die in a nuclear holocaust and stand in a long line for bread in milk. And the Pope just wanted to protect children.

Boy, all of that was wrong.

It was a big deal when Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev had a summit back in 1985. They met in Geneva and started a dialogue on shared interests and concerns: nuclear arms and money. From there, we gave them greater access to blue jeans, Coca-Cola, and a future president. 

Summits are effective. Two people with different points of view come together face-to-face to hash things out. There are rules, topics are off the table, and a mutual commitment to walk out of that room with accomplishments. It’s old school, but it works. HR leaders love a good summit, too. If you can get it catered, a summit is the best excuse to order from the good bagel place down the block.

But people have lost their goddamn minds and abandoned diplomacy for confrontation on mobile devices. We’ve ignored years of dedicated research on communication, and we jump at the chance to tell instead of show. We shout through the text on our screens and hope that the font sizes and the big words make it seem like we’re whispering.

I don’t know about you, but the lack of diplomacy is making my online experience confusing. Our dysfunctional communication patterns muddy the waters, and I always wonder what people are saying. Blog post on work-life balance: Is it about balance or is someone mad at her partner? Tweet about sports: Are you angry with your dad? Facebook link to a marketing article: Do you recommend this article or are you mad at me?

Let me suggest that you need to make like Mikhail and hold a summit — on the phone, at the coffee shop, via Skype — if you’re about to go online and write something you wouldn’t say out loud to someone’s face. Plan a summit if there’s a person in your life who needs to be told and you’re the one to do it. Extend an olive branch, accept an older olive branch, and have a damn summit. 

I’m sick trying to parcel out the subtext of your psychology in tweets and LinkedIn updates when I open my laptop. It feels like nothing is sacred, anymore, except videos of Fiona and photos of Lil Bub. If you ruin that for me, I’ll hunt you down. That’s a summit you don’t want.


work from home

There’s snow here in Raleigh. A lot of it. Crazy.

Not saying it’s been a tough week for people who work at an office. But 9-to-5 jamokes are forced to work from home. They are out of their routines. Spending a lot of time with partners and cats. Did you hear what I said? Can you make me lunch since you are home? Are you working right now or surfing the web? 

Yes, I’m talking about my house.

Likewise, the weather is disruptive for people who work from home. Creativity is weird. Relies on routines and superstition. Just saying. Who turned the heat up? Who keeps turning off lights when I leave the room? Why are there dishes in the sink?

Good news is that snow-induced work-from-home scenarios allow for walks in the woods, breakfast for dinner, and naps. Also, more excellent news — Raleigh will be 60 degrees over the weekend.

Light at the end of the tunnel. See you Monday.


As a freelance writer, there’s no shortage of opportunities for me to churn out content for $50 an article. I can write about the latest in fashion, beauty, or careers. My resume doesn’t matter as long as I can string two sentences together. And even that doesn’t matter. They edit my work.

I should be happy because content writing isn’t completely automated. Not yet, anyway. It’s managed by marketing agencies who work as the outsourced service providers to many of world’s largest media companies. Those firms buy my skills as a contractor, and it’s easy to become a third- or sometimes even fourth-party contractor to the most significant news outlets in the world.

But as a 1099 who earns $50 a pop, that means I’m making $25 an article. I’d make just as much with tips at Waffle House for the same time.

Now, my skills are in demand. I make more than $50. There is a point when the numbers don’t compute and being a freelancer isn’t worth my time. It’s a “new math” where there’s added complexity of people and attitudes.

Do I like you? Are you trying to boss me? Is this a real job you’re trying to do on the cheap?

Hiring a contractor when it should be a full-time job is the one that sticks in my craw. If you use the word “onboarding,” or you micromanage anything besides my work productivity, it’s a job. There’s always some level of orientation at any new endeavor. Human contact is required for any project. If there’s ever a meeting on my calendar to discuss anything except the next assignment and how much it pays, I’m not interested.

The gig economy is excellent for companies who view human labor as a roadblock to profitability. But here’s the secret they don’t know: it’s turning workers into entrepreneurs. I’m no longer just putting chicken in the bucket for the man, and neither are you. Whether we know it, we’re building business plans and creating mission statements that give us MBAs from the school of hard knocks. 

We aren’t going to business school while building a business because it’s fun. We’re doing this to survive.


The other morning, I watched middle-school boys march to school.

They were a loud gaggle of arms and legs and energy moving on impulse and swinging backpacks and books by their fingertips. These boys laughed and screamed and slammed themselves into one another like waves in the ocean as if their bodies existed only to express temporary impulses and actions.

I felt for those boys. Today, it’s homework and video games and YouTube clips. It’s gym class and sports heroes and eating the sourest gummy candy you can find. In less than a few years, it will be a full onslaught of human sexuality that’s confusing, shameful, and curated by adults who don’t know what the hell they are doing.

It will fuck up these boys hard.

As I watched, I thought of my role in the #MeToo movement. I’ve been quoted in the media on workplace harassment, and I appreciate the opportunity to discuss how the workforce fails women and PoC. While my professional opinion is limited to the workforce, I see the #MeToo movement as an example of how we fail to teach kids, and, further, young boys, about the privileges and responsibilities of human sexuality and power.

If we teach them anything at all, it’s an old curriculum based on biology and moral values that aren’t universal. We don’t explain and show emotion, empathy, and kindness to other living beings. It’s procreation and guilt, with sneaky access to internet porn on the side. Then we throw these kids to the wolves — schools, churches, work environments that still run in misogynistic and racist ways — and expect them to figure it out for themselves.

What’s missing from these kids’ lives is an ongoing conversation about the complexities of society and human identity. What’s missing is a coach and a mentor who’s available to offer loving, gentle, non-judgmental advice. What’s missing is someone who gives a shit about character and invests in us in the long term.

Adults are missing this guidance, too.

The current discussion of #MeToo encapsulates many essential issues like sexual harassment, workplace harassment, sexual assault, and violence. We have so many problems that need our attention, and it’s the first time we’ve had “the internet” for the articulation of stories, opinions, and ideas.

How can you not support this outpouring of expression?

But the #MeToo conversation online is often incomplete, fractured, and takes place behind masks and aliases. Then, when the discussion feeds into our real lives, it’s nothing more than an insufficient antidote to the toxic environment in which many of us live and work.

I love that the #MeToo movement has become a lightning rod for real debate about a series of issues. It’s vital to talk about what’s next and creating action plans that protect people from abuse and violence. But the #MeToo movement is only the first step in ending issues such as workplace harassment, rape, and abuse. And it’s too small of a label for individual problems that, themselves, deserve campaigns and hashtags.

When I looked at those young boys walking to school, I felt for them. There’s no end date for the #MeToo movement. As these kids grow into adolescence and adulthood, many of us will still be online — telling our truths and sharing our stories — while these kids struggle to make sense of it all.

As leaders, we need to get clearer on what we’re talking about and how to fix. Sexual harassment, domestic violence, pay inequality, lousy sex, regret, abuse, and assault are connected by a loose thread of powerful people who lack empathy and think it’s okay to put their needs in front of others. And that loose thread won’t be cut online.

We need national and local leaders with excellent communication skills to lead us through this nuanced discussion of human psychology and sexuality. Women and people of color need truth and reconciliation committees, support groups and programs that aid in healing and repairing our workplaces and our lives. And we need compassion for ourselves and one another as our friends and colleagues come to understand their past behaviors in a new light.

Those of us in leadership roles need to step up and help organize these serious discussions. We need to move the discussion from Twitter and Facebook to real-life action plans in households, schools, and work environments. And we need to pick up the pace.

The #MeToo movement is a start. But it’s time to think about what’s next. If you’re reading my blog, you’re the person to do it. We need you to craft plans for future generations of girls and people of color who deserve to find passion and meaning in their lives. We need you to be the change and implement the change. Most of all, we need you to get moving.

And we really need it for boys, too.


Three years ago, a colleague of mine told me that my internet headshots made me look amateurish and angry. He said — It’s nice that your husband is a photographer, but you literally need to step up your game and invest a few bucks in a professional photo.

I’m like, what are you talking about? I look fun and young.

Truth is, I needed a professional protrait. My friend Ginny had her photo taken by a local Raleigh portrait photographer named Kathy Howard.

As all good stories go, Kathy Howard changed my life.

I showed up at the portrait studio in Raleigh for a meeting and learned that photography is Kathy’s second career. She is following her passion and has a sense of purpose about her business. Kathy introduced me to her make-up artist, Joanne Maye, and we went over the basics of the shoot — favorable angles, how to prep, how to smile. We also picked out my outfits and talked about my style, which is yoga-pants-meets-cat-hair.

This was 2015, and here are a few of the results compressed into tiny photos:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The photoshoot was laidback and fun. During the course of the day, I learned so much about Joanne and Kathy. They are now legitimate friends and fellow #girlboss partners-in-crime. They are truly amazing.

Last year, I needed a photo refresher. I just wanted a headshot but Kathy was adamant about taking a bunch of fun photos. How could I say no? I was so comfortable with Kathy and Joanne that I basically told them both — I’ll wear whatever you put on my body, and you can do whatever you want with my hair and make-up.

Here are some of the results, also compressed:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Go to Kathy’s site and you’ll see me in full-resolution on her contact form. Not bad for a middle-aged lady!

Not everybody needs a photoshoot, but I can 100% guarantee that you need a new headshot. Save some cash and invest in a new portrait that captures your internal spirit and external beauty. Why do you need a new portrait? For starters, you could use an upgrade on your LinkedIn profile. Also, it’s fun to look good and feel good.

So, have a look at Kathy’s website and get inspired. Google your local portrait photographers and see if they offer social media packages. Or come hang out in Raleigh with me and Kathy. But you can’t use Joanne for make-up, though. She’s changed her life to become a financial advisor!

I love having women in my network who are smart, fun and committed to lifelong learning and self-improvement. Such a good outcome from simply having my portrait taken!

1 3 4 5 6 7 79  Scroll to top