Posts by: Laurie Ruettimann


Ten years ago was my breakout year.

It was 2009, during the Great Recession and well before people were addicted to social media, and I was a rising star in the world of human resources. You’d find me on the news, writing in business journals, or industry events and sharing my opinions on hiring, firing, and a lack of leadership worldwide.

Some people liked me, some people hated me, and some people blackballed me. I went to big events, I went rogue, and I spoke my truth. In the process, I developed a thick skin and learned that it wasn’t about me: it was about moving HR professionals to action.

Ten years later, I’m still out there pushing limits and buttons. A lot has changed about the world of work and HR, but I’m still answering a question that people asked me back in 2009: Can you do that?

Can You Do That?

Can you say no?
Can you say yes?
Can you fix what’s broken?
Can you take action without getting fired?
Can I ask for an outside opinion?
Can I press pause on an uninformed decision?
Can I end a biased practice?
Can you correct injustice?
Can you say what you think?
Can you stand up for employees?
Can you speak truth to power?
Can you write?
Can you speak?
Can you start a movement?
Can you lead when you’re not in a leadership role?

I don’t know if you can do any of those things. Literally, I have no idea if you have the strength of character to make difficult decisions or take risks when there are no guarantees of success. But I think you should try.

How to Have a Breakout Year

My breakout year in 2009 started back in 2004 when I decided that enough was enough and the world of HR — and my life — had to change. I had a big goal of being the most influential key opinion leader in HR, but I started small and worked backward to determine where to start. My blog was the first step, then I moved to industry events, and then I appeared in leading journals and news platforms. Also, I found kindred spirits on the internet who would have my back in real life and nurtured those relationships. Even when I sucked — and especially when I sucked — my friends had my back.

If I could have a breakout year in 2009, you can have a breakout year in 2019. Identify your goals, write them down, make a plan to avoid failure, start small, and loop in your community to support your dreams.

Can you do that?

I don’t know. But I hope so. Life is so much better when you try.


I always end the year by writing about my accomplishments, failure, regrets, and resolutions. I love this time of year because the calendar naturally moves me to reflect and take action. This post is all about 2019 resolutions.

There are two types of people in this world: people who think there are two types of people, and people who don’t. Me? I think there are two types of people in this world. The first group makes resolutions, and the second group criticizes people who make resolutions.

Resolutions are a decision to do (or not to do) something, and I’m on #TeamResolutions. There are years when I make resolutions to eat better and exercise, which is how I became a vegetarian and a marathoner, and years when I resolve just to make it through the year with no significant life events. 

My most consequential resolution came on New Year’s Eve 2006 when I was on the couch in my jammies and said, “I’ve got to quit my job and do something else with my life.”

The true story of how I quit my job at Pfizer will be in my new book. And that book? Comes from a resolution to write something helpful for people who feel stuck.

Year-end resolutions don’t have to transform your lives, they just have to start you on a better — or different — path. Resolutions don’t have to start on January 1st, either. The new year begins now. Every day is a do-over if you’re looking to change your life.

Me? I have individual goals for my career, my finances, my health and my relationships. And I’m using the Get to Work system to hold myself accountable because a coaching client of mine loves it. We’re going on that journey together.

Since I’m asking you to think about your 2019 resolutions, I’ll share mine. I have two. The first is to stop being detached and conflict-avoidant in my private life and make important decisions even when they cause temporary pain and heartache. My second resolution is to live a less caustic life and surround myself with people who bring out the best in me — personally and professionally — and try to be someone who only brings out the best in my friends and family members. 

We’ll see how all that goes. The first mile is always the hardest.

I hope 2019 is a year of transformation for you, big or small. I am grateful that you still read my blog. And I hope you believe what I understand to be true: Wherever you are, the view can improve in 2019. 

Happy New Year.


I always end the year by writing about my accomplishments, failure, regrets, and resolutions. I love this time of year because the calendar naturally moves me to reflect and take action. This post is all about 2018 regrets.

Every year, I write that regrets are a waste of time. Everybody makes mistakes, and it’s self-indulgent to focus on errors instead of solutions. Don’t be that person who looks back at the past and focuses on the “what ifs” and “what could have been.” That person is annoying, and, ultimately, never learns his lesson.

But I also realize there are people out there who never feel sadness or repentance over their behavior. That’s not healthy, either.

This year, I behaved in regretful ways. Got mad at the Walgreens drive-thru lady and didn’t use the best tone. Drank too much when I was trying to maintain my straightedge lifestyle. Wished someone a happy 50th birthday who was only turning 49.

Oooops. But I’m not a horrible person, and life continues.

For the first time, I also had middle-aged moments when I saw how decisions I made years ago influenced my life today. The path I didn’t take? The painful decision I tried to avoid? The person I didn’t treat well? Some of it came to roost in 2018, and I felt pangs of regret for not being smarter or braver when I was younger.

But, again, there’s nothing to do except make better choices.

Regret is a trap that paralyzes you from taking action. And the only way to beat the voice in your head is to take action right now and disrupt the negative feedback loop in your mind.

How do you stop focusing on regret? Some say exercise and movement are helpful tools. Service to others will change the conversation in your head, too. Some people are advocates for imagery, meditation, and mindfulness. I believe in talking to people — friends, loved ones, clergy, therapists — who are empathetic and wise. There is comfort in hearing stories where other people make mistakes and thrive.

Regret is a phenomenal waste of time, wasted on people and things that no longer deserve your attention. Behaved in regretful ways? Wish you could’ve made a different decision? Don’t linger. Make amends as best you can and move on.

The key, though, is to make better and more interesting mistakes. That’s what 2019 should be all about for you.


I always end the year by writing about my accomplishments, failure, regrets, and resolutions. I love this time of year because the calendar naturally moves me to reflect and take action. This post is all about 2018 failure.

I’ve participated in this ritual in some way since 2004, and I generally write about failure in one of three ways.

1. Sometimes it’s chronological and honest.
2. There are times when it’s vague and summarized.
3. More often than not, I wrap up failure in a lesson that’s larger than failure.

You’ll get all of that in 2018.

However, before I write anything, a word: society does its citizens a disservice when it fetishizes failure. While failure is an essential tool for growth, there are smarter and more effective ways to receive an education. Failure as an instrument of teaching — and a vehicle for maturation — is stupid and counterproductive. Everybody fails, but let’s get to the successful part sooner.

I think my biggest failure is that I didn’t do more premortems throughout the year. If you remember, I built a technology platform to help people beat failure called GlitchPath based on the idea of the premortem, but I didn’t use it myself. I went headfirst into projects and relationships with glitches and didn’t ask myself, “How am I about to fail?”

You don’t need technology to minimize failure. You need a minute. A pause. Some self-reflection. The ability to delay gratification long enough to remember how things failed in the past and how you can avoid frustration and disappointment by changing your behaviors in the immediate future.

And even if you take a moment to plan for failure, you might still fail. That’s how life works.

But here’s what I did in 2018: I mostly ignored warning signs. If I paid attention at all, I wanted to transform my future magically and was willing to endure failure as a rite of passage to win an emotional lottery. It was only in the fourth quarter when I started to review my year that I woke up and realized it was time to get to work. I was failing pretty hard, and no amount of wishful thinking could change the facts on the ground.

So, I put pen to paper and wrote down some goals. I’ve got four buckets: health, finance, career, relationships. Then I did a premortem and asked myself, “How am I going to fail?”

Big goals have significant risks. I’ll probably fail to achieve some of my goals for 2019, just like I missed the mark on my life in 2018. But at least I’m back to embracing the premortem, a tool to help me see through the fog and recognize the landscape before me.

Want to beat failure? Try the premortem. I hope it helps you like it continues to assist me. And don’t be too hard on yourself if you fail in 2019. Let’s try to fail in new and more interesting ways, okay?


I always end the year by writing about my accomplishments, failure, regrets, and resolutions.

I love this time of year because the calendar naturally moves me to reflect and take action. This post is all about 2018 accomplishments.

Honestly, I’m not sure how the year went.

There’s data showing it was okay. Trips, invoices, bank statements, emails, moments of recognition from clients. It’s all there. Whenever I feel mediocre, I always accomplish something. When I suck, I don’t suck. Plus I had one goal of getting a literary agent and writing a book proposal. I’ve got both. Haven’t sold my manuscript, yet, but that’s coming.

There’s also the fact that I get up in the morning and don’t quit, despite my jacked-up brain telling me to walk away from everything — my marriage, my cats, my car, my natural skills and abilities — and find a job working nights in a tavern on the northwest side of Chicago. It’s not impostor syndrome, it’s something a little darker. A response to the absurdity of life, Donald Trump, the internet, dudes behaving badly, the illegal war in Yemen, anxiety, human rights atrocities, and other people’s bullshit.

They call it dysthymia, I call it cynicism, but I wake up every day and intentionally remind myself that it’s a wonderful life. I’m here for the ride even, even when all of it feels very intense and uncomfortable. That’s an accomplishment in my mind.

Finally, I started coming to terms with dyscalculia. It’s not something I’ve written about because it’s supremely embarrassing, but I muddle my way through math in a way that makes me feel like I lack life skills. In fact, therapists have largely written off my math struggles as character defects.

Here’s how it works: financial concepts are difficult for me to understand, numbers are hard, I miss calendar appointments, flub travel dates, forget to pay my mobile phone bill, and can’t balance my books for the life of me. Maybe I should just be mindful and get my shit together?

Yeah, no.

I mean, yes, I need to get my shit together. But it’s not that I’m an asshole. I can see numbers, but they don’t always make sense. I can look at a P&L and balance sheet and, very slowly, understand the totality of what I’m reading. But those executive summaries with bullet points you produce on a report or PowerPoint slide? Those are for me. I need words.

I have a CFO who lives nearby who’s been enormously helpful. And I contacted one of the leading experts on children with dyscalculia and asked him if he could help me. He said no, but he was nice about it. Told me that I’m not alone. Referred me to other psychologists, encouraged me to go slow, and linked to online resources where I can practice working on math problems.

Takes a Village, Yo.

Maybe my biggest accomplishment was admitting I can’t do math and money alone. So, I asked for help from loved ones and professional advisors. And they answered the call, thank god. I’ve been set up for success in 2019 — everything is organized, automated, transparent, managed — and I’m enrolling in a program where I do math exercises online and have practice flashcards at home. Humbling, but it should help.

So, that was my year.

Did I knock it out of the park in 2018? Who the hell knows. Some days are fabulous, and some days are bananas, but it averages out to a rigorous and interesting life lived with some measure of authenticity.

Bring on 2019!


People keep asking me for my Omah’s Christmas Snickerdoodle recipe. It’s a holiday staple.

Turns out, she is my ex-boyfriend’s Omah, but these cookies have been in my life since 1991. We’ll always be family.

Here’s the recipe.

Sift together and set aside:
2 1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
2 tsp. cream of tartar
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt

In a large bowl, beat together until light and fluffy with an electric mixer:
1 cup vegetable shortening (Crisco)
1 1/4 cups sugar
Add 2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
Stir in flour mixture slowly.

Combine but keep separate:
2 Tablespoons sugar
1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Roll dough between palms of hands, one tablespoon at a time into round balls [about an inch).
Roll each ball in sugar mixture.
Place 2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheet.
Bake at 400 degrees for 9 minutes until lightly browned. {Do not overbake.]
Remove from pan to cool.

Makes 4 dozen cookies or one big batch of delicious raw cookie dough.


HR is having the wrong conversation about immigration. While compliance and policy are important conversations to have, we should also be talking about the often-overlooked employee experience.

We live in a politicized climate with lots of changes to the US immigration policies over the past two years. While it makes perfect sense to focus on laws and regulations, HR leaders should also be obsessed with how talented workers feel about your organization.

What’s the vibe when a new hire moves to America and joins your company? Do you communicate about important topics such as compensation and immigration status? How easy is it for your foreign nationals to ask questions and get timely answers?

If your HR team hasn’t thought about the employee experience for foreign nationals, now is the time.

A Good Onboarding Process Leads to a Positive Employee Experience

It’s essential to think about the employee experience if you want to attract and keep top talent. For companies that hire and sponsor foreign talent, the employee experience matters more than ever. Why go through all the effort to hire a global worker only to lose someone because you didn’t think through all the elements of their onboarding?

Talent acquisition teams should build an employee experience that keeps foreign nationals excited and engaged throughout the entire H-1B visa sponsorship process and beyond.

It starts with onboarding. There’s bound to be confusion and turmoil when an employee moves to a new country. The best HR departments invest in tools and platforms that enable clear and consistent communication, and they work hard to reduce friction and miscommunication before the first day on the job.

A global workforce planning platform is helpful to ensure the conversation around the sponsorship and relocation process is documented, accessible and transparent.  

A Positive Employee Experience Aids Retention of Foreign Nationals

How do you keep someone excited about their brand new job once they’ve started? What if those employees moved to America and have family members who are thousands of miles away?

Consider long-term sponsorship for your foreign nationals and their families. Green cards are a powerful tool for employee retention. Many workers have big dreams for their careers that involve moving to the United States and contributing to our economy. Having a clear path to citizenship can give companies a competitive advantage when recruiting from the global talent pool.

Envoy provides a platform where HR professionals and foreign nationals have access to their attorneys, which gives them peace of mind during the immigration process and allows them to focus on being productive and engaged members of your team.

Whatever immigration platform you choose, you’ll want to ensure that the provider has a history of working with customers to speed up the immigration process.

Stay Active in the Global Talent Pool

Tom Friedman once wrote that the world is hot, flat and crowded. Chances are if you hire one foreign national, you’ll hire more. It’s time to think about the employee experience for foreign nationals who may join your organization down the road.

Envoy’s global workforce planning platform has forecasting tools and services for companies to benchmark their green card policies and procedures. There are additional features to show how a company’s approach to immigration and visas can provide a competitive advantage in the talent market.

Make 2019 Your Best Year Yet

HR and talent acquisition leaders should relish in the opportunity to hire foreign workers. It’s fun to communicate key elements of an employer brand to candidates who are excited about your company. And there’s no greater joy than to offer an opportunity for someone to come to our country and experience the American dream.

Instead, far too many teams are caught up in compliance and legal nightmares.

Want to improve your productivity and enhance your immigration and recruiting practices in 2019? Check out Envoy’s resources for talent acquisition teams and HR professionals who hire foreign nationals and make 2019 your best year yet.

Editor’s Note: Today’s post is sponsored by Envoy. Formerly known as VISANOW, Envoy was founded in Chicago in 1998 to help people navigate the stressful, confusing and incredibly inefficient immigration and visa application process.


This week’s guest on Let’s Fix Work is Joe Hirsch, TEDx speaker and best-selling author of ‘The Feedback Fix’ and managing director of Semaca Partners, a boutique communications firm. Joe is also an award-winning educational leader in using applied behavioral science to create more positive and better-performing workplaces.

In this episode, Laurie asks Joe about his philosophy behind creating positive change and his methods of optimizing how you give and receive feedback. He also explains the correct mindset to approach feedback as a manager, do you want to force a change or provoke an insight? Laurie and Joe discuss bypassing resistance to change and how traditional performance management falls short when compared to treating people as agents of change.

Laurie quizzes Joe about when it is appropriate and how to tell someone that their feedback is unwanted, and both then discuss some anecdotes about times they received feedback that was difficult to digest. Joe and Laurie then explore how to avoid recreating family dynamics in a professional environment and why it is important to deputize and delegate feedback as a manager.

Laurie and Joe unpack some of the preconceptions about gender roles pertaining to feedback, Joe covers the importance of collaboration and towards the end of the episode, gives his conclusions about the collaborative nature of feedback and a gem of a quote. “Letting go isn’t about what you give up, it’s about what you give.” We’ll be using that one in the future.

Twitter: @joemhirsch


Book: “The Feedback Fix: Dump the Past, Embrace the Future, and Lead the Way to Change”


TEDx Video: “The Joy of Getting Feedback”


How do you know it’s the end of the year? Everybody asks for predictions.

This week, I was honored to appear on Changing The Game with HR, Presented by SAP. The host is Bonnie D. Graham, who happens to live down the road from me, and the panelists included Art Mazur and Dr. Patti Fletcher.

I was asked to share my 2019 predictions for HR, which are mostly predictions scraped together from other smart thinkers. But here’s what I believe:

User personalization continued to be a hot consumer trend in 2018, and the desire for customization has arrived within the confines of HR. At all levels, the employee experience demands a customized user experience in the workplace. In a tight labor market, recruiters and HR leaders have been pushed to put the employee’s experience at the center of their policies and processes to attract and retain highly productive and talented workers. The benefit of personalization is that our workforce doesn’t need to search for resources and information, thus allowing more time for increased productivity, efficiency and collaboration.

Compensation is on the minds of many executives and HR leaders. Companies benefited from tax breaks in 2018 and awarded bonuses throughout their organizations; however, for most US workers, wages have barely risen in decades. As we move from a traditional labor force to a distributed workforce rooted in the principles of the gig economy, companies will have to wrestle with critical questions about the importance of financial margins versus the importance of economic wellbeing for FTEs, consultants, and contractors alike.

Wellbeing is a trendy buzzword that isn’t going away in 2019. Rather than focusing on punitive programs meant to guilt people into losing weight, progressive HR departments are getting ahead of the curve and designing creative benefit programs to enhance the quality of life. From nap rooms to pawternity benefits, employers want happier and healthier employees. Do these wellbeing perks work? Only data will tell us.

HR is gonna learn something new. Traditionally, HR departments focused on the organization’s development needs. Training and learning are absolutely on fire, but, in 2019, training and development will be on the minds of HR professionals who haven’t paid attention to their growth. Whereas it was once essential to build individual learning plans for our workforce, we’ll be doing it for ourselves in 2019.

In 2019, we’ll see more business people join the ranks of HR and lead more and more HR organizations. HR was once considered a place to send your low-performing leaders before banishing them entirely; however, now it’s regarded as a stepping stone to additional executive opportunities. How can you lead without knowing the intricacies of your people-related agenda?

What are your predictions? What do you see for HR in 2019? Leave a comment below, and feel free to have a listen to this week’s show!


For episode two of this season, we welcome Nando Rodriguez and German Marin from Brooklyn New York to the show. Nando Rodriguez is a former recruiter and blogger who now works as a coach, influencer and an advocate. German is a LinkedIn headshot and online dating photographer. Both live their lives openly on social media as entrepreneurs and influencers.

To start the interview Laurie asks Nando and German about their early careers, how they got into their current jobs and what it is like living in the public eye through social media. Nando discusses his time as a blogger and what it is like using social media for dating and business, he and German also talk about how they initially met and how their careers have intertwined with their personal lives.

Next, we delve into how Nando and German support and lift each other up in their daily lives. Nando illustrates that knowing someone’s signals and boundaries often come with time, but it is important not to rely on each other for everything. German talks a bit about resisting the urge to control and knowing when to stop and listen. Laurie and the guys then talk about the issues people face when trying to talk about relationships in public and the stigma that often accompanies it.

Laurie then probes into the finer points of Nando and German’s social media profiles. She asks how they decide what to post, what not to post and how you can balance presentation with authenticity. German explains how to overcome the fear of being on camera and how to use the venerability you feel to create a genuine post.

In the final segment of this episode, Laurie asks what Nando and German have planned for 2019 and what they each expect from the other, to assist them in accomplishing their goals. The guys talk about some of their own experiences where their work was broken and how they fixed it, which leads into a discussion about the psychology of inferiority and how being an immigrant can play into that. Nando tells some stories about German’s adjustment process and his self-perception. Before we say goodbye Nando and German talk a little about their dog and her booming social media career.

Episode Links:

Nando Rodriguez 

German Marin

Leona the Lion

Immigrants Make Shit Happen

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