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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

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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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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Hey, everybody. Years ago, I wrote something called “The Punk Rock HR Handbook.”

Do you remember it?

It no longer exists in the original form, but people still ask me about it. It was a manifesto on how to be a good employee so you’ll never need HR.

I found my old notes, and we decided to publish the no-holds-barred, honest DIY HR Handbook for employees and pros in conjunction with Let’s Fix Work.

Want to fix work? Start by fixing yourself and stop whining about HR.

Would you like a copy? Download it for free!

Maybe we can’t fix work on a blog, but we can help you stay out of trouble with human resources.

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Ben Brooks was THE guy in HR. He had it all, but then he left it all to became an entrepreneur. Today Ben and Laurie talk about how executive coaching can help you fix yourself AND your work. Not sure what life coaching is, how it differs from executive coaching, or why it matters? They’ll answer these questions and more in today’s episode.

  • Ben talks about this ‘arranged marriage’ to corporate America, and how it really didn’t fit with his ideas of innovation and making things better. In fact, one of his peers told him point blank: he had outgrown a 50,000-person company. Ben shares what a gift that message was.
  • Ben took a little time before beginning his journey into entrepreneurship, and what finally changed his mind about it was a name tag. Would he choose unemployed, entrepreneur, or employee? After a week among entrepreneurs, Ben realized he’d found his tribe.
  • Ben did what a lot of new entrepreneurs do: he started without a real business plan. He reveals what he learned about business plans, what his first little while was like, and when things finally took a positive turn for him. He shares his thought about generalist advisers, and what he says will surprise you: you don’t absolutely NEED to be in a niche, not in today’s world.
  • Ben talks about what he calls ‘democratizing executive coaching.’ In a nutshell, it means getting coaching to more people, when they need it, and at prices they can afford. He explains why he was driven to do this rather than set up a $500/hr coaching practice. Ben’s revelation about group coaching surprises Laurie, and it will probably surprise you, too.
  • One of the problems Ben ran into with Pilot, his coaching company, was that people loved it but they believed their company should pay for employment coaching. So he turned to companies, and while many of them won’t invest in it, there is a distinct group of forward-thinking leaders who have, like those at MetLife.
  • Do you need an executive coach? Before you answer, listen to what Ben has to say about it. He likens it to marriage counseling. If you’ve ever been fired or left a job, are you able to see past your emotions and understand what really went wrong? Are you able to fix it for yourself? The answer may not be to start your OWN business, because if you aren’t able to fix yourself, entrepreneurship won’t do it for you.
  • According to people smarter than us, one of the biggest factors of happiness at work is self-advocacy. Ben and Laurie discuss what that means and why it seems to be more difficult for women. They also reveal what to do to be a better advocate for yourself.
  • Ben leaves his final message that everyone needs to hear: Take command of your career. It’s the tagline of his business, Pilot. He shares the inspiration behind it, and why it will change your life.
  • Listen to the Spotify playlist. 

Want to know more about Ben? Find him here:

Pilot website
Facebook
Twitter
Instagram
LinkedIn
Pinterest
YouTube

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? Download it for free!

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Have you ever effed something up so badly you’re not sure if anything will get better ever again? Laurie has. In this candid, bonus episode, she shares her biggest failure – a product called GlitchPlan that was supposed to help you do pre-mortem on a situation. What’s that? Laurie explains the concept and talks about how she’d been doing it herself for a lifetime. It was a sure thing, or so she thought.

  • Laurie explains what the concept of pre-mortem is and shares some very painful moments in her past where she was forced to use it to make life-changing decisions. It’s one of her core mantras: if you can see it, you can beat it.
  • Laurie and her partner pulled together a team of 5, all of whom were experts, but all of whom were also employed elsewhere. Except Laurie. That was the first indicator of failure. Laurie talks about what her life was like being a CEO of a company whose employees weren’t engaged. But the employees weren’t the only ones to blame. Laurie talks about how she failed them.
  • One of the next indicators of failure Laurie shares was that, in hindsight, if your tech team won’t even use what they’re building, there’s something wrong. Laurie was using it, though, and her pre-mortem problem lists weren’t being avoided. They were happening right before her eyes. In other words, she used her own product to watch its development fail. Oh, the irony.
  • Laurie ended up firing part of her team, but she wasn’t finished with GlitchPath just yet. After some reflection, she brought together another set of people – and she has great experience as a recruiter. But she said something in her job ad that had people coming out of the woodwork to gripe at her. It was just two little words and it was the best thing she did during the entire GlitchPath experience.
  • Version two of Laurie’s team was amazing. Except for two things. The team wouldn’t use it. Again. Laurie tells the story of the development of a product no one wanted to use. The second problem? No one else wanted to use it. Laurie reveals the interesting reason why; it has to do with fear at work.
  • Laurie’s third goal was to integrate GlitchPath into other apps and tools on the market: Slack, Asana, Basecamp, etc. Her two lessons there were 1) most companies use weird project management, and 2) none of those tool companies would every buy her out, which she had hoped for from the beginning.
  • Laurie still loves the pre-mortem concept, but GlitchPath was a dead end. She brought her team together and killed it for the second, and final, time. She shares the big lessons she learned from GlitchPath, personally and professionally.

Enjoy this bonus episode? Do you want more like it? We’re thinking about putting together a community where you’ll get all normal content PLUS juicy tidbits, stories, access to Laurie, and an inside look at how she’s fixing work. Let us know! Email us at hello@letsfixwork.com.or sign up for weekly updates.

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Think of somebody who rubs you the wrong way at work. The dude who opens his mouth and annoys you. The woman whose emails make you feel an impending sense of dread.
You are that somebody to someone else at work.

One of my favorite theories of work is that there’s work-math in every office environment that looks like Hammurabi’s Code intersecting with Newton’s third law. For every person who makes your blood boil, you cause the same reaction to one of your colleagues. 

Hate the look of a coworker for no reason? Don’t like the cut of your officemate’s jib? Wonder why the chick down the hall is such a loud talker? That’s because those other people are you, and there’s an individual talking shit about your sloppy work habits on Slack. 

And they’re not wrong.

Introspection + Insight = Change

I’m a big fan of Cy Wakeman, who is a noted workplace tension expert, and she tackles the big stuff. If you have severe conflict issues at work, she’s your thinker and researcher on all things drama.

I know that most of you hate reading books, and some of you are thriving contrarians like me. You wouldn’t listen to good advice, anyway. So, maybe you can do a few experiments at work and see if there’s a way to de-escalate workplace conflict and live a better life without reading a workbook or watching a webinar.

First thing I do when someone bugs me at work? Well, I think back to a time when I behaved poorly and wasn’t proud of it. Last year, I took a consulting job at Zenefits. There was a VP who wasn’t my biggest fan, and she was disinterested in forming a relationship with me.

The culture in Silicon Valley in insane — and warrants another blog post or maybe bonus material on Let’s Fix Work — and she didn’t become VP of anything by suffering fools. She summed me up, didn’t like what she saw for many reasons, and wrote me off. And, at first, it was confusing. Then it was maddening. Then it broke my heart. 

But how many times have I acted that way? How many times have I felt threatened by other women or younger people? When haven’t I been insecure in a corporate job? Isn’t that why I quit corporate America in the first place? 

Horizontal competition between two women isn’t new, and I could see a path forward with this VP because some of my biggest rivals at Pfizer are now my dearest and loveliest friends.

And, looking back, we weren’t even rivals. We were women who were trying to survive. So, whenever that VP was assertive and challenging, I put her behaviors — and mine — into perspective.

We’re all human. Unless you’re the founder or owner, the system is stacked against you at work. Especially as women. Someone has to be the change they want to see in the workplace, and I decided it would be me. 

It’s funny how, six months later, neither one of us is at Zenefits. Maybe she was the change, too.

Don’t Be Somebody’s Asshole

The next time someone bothers you at work, take a second and think about a time you saw that behavior in yourself or another work-related situation. Then, apply the lessons to your life.

Someone bugging you? Tensions running high? Hate the look of your colleague? Be thoughtful, kind, and offer grace. The more you forgive the mundane, the higher the likelihood that someone will forgive you.

Forgiveness is one essential and undervalued way that we fix work.

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