My guest for this episode is a dear friend: Enrique Rubio, founder of Hacking HR. In this conversation, Enrique and I discuss how he got started in HR, why HR leaders shouldn’t overinvest in technology, and why a shift in mindset can help HR leaders see themselves as business leaders.

Enrique started his career as an electronic engineer before shifting to HR. In 2017, Enrique founded Hacking HR to bring the world of HR and technology together. 

But over time, Enrique realized that the Hacking HR community wasn’t primarily focused on this combination of tech and HR. He’s evolved the mission of Hacking HR to explore topics such as culture, diversity, mental health, and well-being — with technology as a secondary focus.

Punk Rock HR is proudly underwritten by Betterworks. The world’s most dynamic organizations rely on Betterworks to accelerate growth by supporting transparent goal setting, enabling continuous performance and learning from employee insights. Betterworks is on a mission to help HR leaders make work better. Discover how they can help you by visiting

The Origin Story: Combining Tech and HR

Enrique didn’t plan to go into HR, and it took a negative experience — getting fired — to pique his interest. When that firing occurred, he asked for an explanation from the HR practitioner, whom he considered a friend. But the HR representative wouldn’t provide any information

Enrique asked, “What is HR?” and set out to learn more. “I discovered the possibilities of HR to do better and more. I said, ‘Well, maybe this is an interesting space for me to get into,’” he says.

Enrique’s first HR role was in HR tech, combining his two big professional interests. What he’s learned in the years since is that HR, just like any other job in a company, doesn’t have to be perfect. Everyone makes mistakes.

“The reality is that, yes, I’ve seen great HR people not getting it right all the time,” Enrique explains. “But what they have is something really awesome, which is, they just come forward and say, ‘I made a mistake, and I’m sorry for this.’”              

Remaining Human-Centric With HR Tech

HR tech has exploded in popularity over the past ten years, and it seems like there’s a new HR tech product every month that promises to improve processes. Many HR departments are excited to get new software but risk overinvesting in the wrong things.

Enrique says that companies too often rely on ‌tech to solve problems instead of implementing tech to empower employees. He shares an example of an HR leader who acquired a tech solution to support mental health in the organization. The problem was that only 10% of employees used it.

“I think HR has to be very, very savvy to have deep conversations about the role of technology in the workplace, and what it is meant to do, and engage with other champions in these conversations in the organization,” he says.

To avoid overinvesting in tech, Enrique suggests that HR practitioners have deeper conversations about technology’s role in the workplace, especially with managers and front-line employees. Figure out what they need to be more efficient and what technology supports their work.

“You have to make sure that your processes are right, and then you have technology,” he says. “Once again, technology’s the last step in the process.”

HR Leaders Are Business Leaders

Enrique sees too many HR professionals view themselves as separate from the business — as if there are HR leaders and business leaders. Too many HR pros are in the mindset of having to fight for a seat at the table, even when they’re already there. HR leaders are business leaders, and they need to change their mindset. That starts with believing that HR is a “value-creating, revenue-generating function” rather than a cost center.

“You have to believe that you are creating value for people and the organization,” he says. “That you are solving problems; that you are a business leader, and then you find out how to make it happen.”

At Hacking HR, Enrique helps reinforce this idea in everything the community does, including the recent HR: The Trailblazer event. In fact, he argues that HR has a uniquely powerful and insightful view of the business.

“We are sitting at the intersection of people operations and business operations, and that’s a unique vantage point that we have in there,” Enrique says. “You have marketing, sales, IT, finance people, very engaged in their own kind of technical field, in their own daily technical grind. We see what they’re doing, but we also see what’s happening everywhere else with the people in our organizations and hopefully with the people across our industry.”

People in This Episode

Enrique Rubio: LinkedIn, Twitter, Hacking HR Website, Hacking HR LinkedIn


Laurie Ruettimann:

Punk Rock HR is sponsored by Betterworks. The world’s most dynamic organizations rely on Betterworks to accelerate growth by supporting transparent goal setting, enabling continuous performance and learning from employee insights. Betterworks is on a mission to help HR leaders make work better. Discover how they can help you by visiting today.

Hey everybody, I’m Laurie Ruettimann. Welcome back to Punk Rock HR. My guest today is Enrique Rubio. He’s the founder of Hacking HR and a dear friend who likes to stir things up and think big about the world of human resources, so that’s what we’re talking about today. We’re talking about processes, technologies, community and how HR can truly be seen for the business leaders that they are.

Enrique has an engineering framework that he brings to the discussion, which I think is very interesting, and he also is an advocate for research-based approaches in the world of human resources. So, if you’re like me, show me the money, how does this all come together? How does it work? How should it work, and how can we do better? Well, sit back and enjoy this conversation with Enrique Rubio, the founder of Hacking HR on this week’s Punk Rock HR.

Hi, Enrique. Welcome to the podcast.

Enrique Rubio:

Laurie, thank you so much for having me. I’m excited about the conversation.

Laurie Ruettimann:

Well, it’s a pleasure to speak to you again. It’s been a minute. So, for all of those who don’t know who you are and what you’re all about, can you tell us a little something about the world in which you live?

Enrique Rubio:

Yeah, absolutely. Well, my name is Enrique Rubio, and I am the founder of a global community of HR people called Hacking HR. I created this community at the end of 2017. My original mission with this community was to bring a little bit closer the worlds of HR and technology. I have those two backgrounds. I am an HR practitioner, and I am an electronic engineer so I worked in both areas. And I wanted to bring those two worlds together but over time, I discovered that even though technology is important, it’s not what was becoming my main driver or the main driver of the community that I was trying to create.

So ever since, we have evolved, and now we actually talk more about the stuff that is not technology, like culture, diversity, mental health, wellbeing — and we talk a little bit about technology. So, completely flipped this on its head. That’s who I am, and I created this community just because I believe in the power of HR to become a business leader.

Laurie Ruettimann:

I’m thrilled to have you here, and I’m actually surprised when I met you because you are an optimist, and I don’t know how you do it. Because number one, being a community builder means you’re in the weeds, right? You’re in the trenches. You’re actually doing the work of connecting people. Furthermore, you’re doing it around the world of human resources, which has never been fraught with more challenges than right now. So, how do you retain your optimism in this crazy world of HR?

Enrique Rubio:

I think it’s like running, right? I know this will resonate with you because you also are a runner. I’m a competitive runner, and people ask me all the time, “Do you always want to run?” and the answer is no, I don’t always want to run. Some days I don’t want to run, but I just get out the door and I get it done because if I think too much about it, I don’t do it. What drives me to go out the door when I don’t want to run is the discipline to get it done rather than the motivation to get it done.

So, it’s the same principle here. Am I motivated? Am I optimistic every day? No, I am not motivated and I am not optimistic every day about work or about HR, but I just get done what I need to get done because I am disciplined about the community that I’m trying to create because I believe in it. So, I keep my eyes on the prize and in the day to day — kind of like being in the weeds, like you said before, in the day-to-day grind — I know some days are awesome, some other days are like, “Fuck, man. I mean, why do people have to make this so hard?”

But then I think, “All right, doesn’t matter what happens today. You’re building, you’re building. One day at a time. You’re building, you’re building.” That keeps me very disciplined. So, it’s more than being optimistic every day. It’s keeping my eyes on what I ultimately want to accomplish and knowing that the strength of that kind of purpose will get me going through the days in which I am not necessarily motivated or optimistic, but I try to be mostly motivated and optimistic in every other day.

Laurie Ruettimann:

You definitely are. I wonder if you can make the case for us why HR matters now more than ever and why it’s important and why even when it’s tough, we should stick with it, we should believe in it. Because as you know, Enrique, I want to burn it all down and rebuild it. So, why don’t we burn it down? Why should we continue to invest in it?

Enrique Rubio:

Yeah. Well, I think everything is about people. I’ve been thinking about this for a long time. I think everything is about people. That’s why I got into HR in the first place. I love technology, by the way. Part of my background — I am an electronic engineer, like I mentioned before, and I worked for many years in telecommunications, just technology, but still, I believe everything is about people.

Laurie Ruettimann:

Why did you get into human resources? I don’t think I’ve heard that origin story, and I’ve known you for a long time.

Enrique Rubio:

Two things, right? It’s driven by me, but at the same time, I fell into it. I had a very negative experience with HR, well, many of them, but one of them was very negative. I got fired from a job a long time ago, many, many years ago, and the person from HR, whom I considered to be my friend, didn’t have an explanation for me of why this was happening. It was just a small family company. I said, “Not only should this person have kind of interceded for me in this case, not only because I’m her friend, but because it was the right thing to do, and they didn’t do it.” All I thought about was like, “What is this HR thing, anyway? Let me just find out more about this HR thing.”

I discovered what HR does. I discovered the possibilities of HR to do better and more. I said, “Well, maybe this is an interesting space for me to get into.” As I was thinking about that, I got a job offer doing HR tech work, combining my two backgrounds — sort of my passion for just getting into HR and applying to jobs in HR, but also my technology background. Well, the rest is history, right?

I mean, I got into HR, I started in the intersection of technology and HR, and now I do all of these things, but that’s how I got into HR. So, the epiphany came from a negative experience and realizing, “Wow, HR doesn’t have to be this. HR can be more than this.” That’s why I got into this.

Laurie Ruettimann:

Yeah. That certainly makes sense to me. I didn’t understand that you had had this negative experience, which I think is even more authentic, right? You’ve had the experience of HR at one extreme, and you believe in the possibilities of what it could be. Have you seen good HR in your experience anywhere?

Enrique Rubio:

Yeah, there are very good HR people. When I say HR, I don’t mean they get it right all the time, but that’s OK, because we don’t have this expectation from anybody else. I mean, nobody would expect any CEO, any person in sales, any person in marketing, any person in IT, any person in finance to get it right all the time.

I don’t know, by the way, why the hell did we create in the world this expectation that HR has to get it right all the time, right? But the reality is that, yes, I have seen great HR people not getting it right all the time, but what they have is something really awesome, which is, they just come forward and say, “Man, I fucked it. I made a mistake, and I’m sorry for this.” We learned, and we set up the guard rails so that this doesn’t happen again, and we just continue. Tomorrow, we will do it better.

So, they admit when something goes wrong, they realize that people may have been hurt in many different ways by their mistakes, and we just move on. So to me, yes, there are great HR people out there, but especially what makes them great is not not making mistakes, is realizing the power they have to just say, “I messed it up, and I want to do it all over again with now the lesson learned in my portfolio. Now I have that extra tool in my toolbox, and I promise that I won’t do it again.”

Now you get on the other extreme of that, which is ironic, the people who get the HR thing right, but they suck as individuals. They are awful people. They may be great at processing transactions, they may be great at paying people, they may be great at having an awesome relationship with the CEO, but when you want to talk to them, they don’t hear you, they don’t have your back, they don’t recognize their mistakes, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. So, they can be technically good, but they are not exactly what I define as a great HR person.

Laurie Ruettimann:

I think there’s this third category of HR professionals who struggle in that they forget that they’re HR people, and they come from a certain proud stock of history, and they overinvest in technology. They almost are ashamed of where they came from, and they’re like, “I’m not like the other HR people. I’m now into tech.” Or, “I’m now into finance.” I think there’s something really sad about that. People who are embarrassed of their legacy, embarrassed of their roots in human resources, and I’m sad for them because I think I was that for a long time. I’m like, “Oh, those other people over there are terrible, but I’m great.” 

I see that now so often in this elite level of human resources professionals. They don’t even want to be called HR. They’re business partners or they’re people operations, and there’s just a weird level of shame that kind of exists. I don’t know. Have you seen that out there on LinkedIn or in communities, and what do you think about that?

Enrique Rubio:

That makes me think of — stereotypical, but sort of the example that I’m going to use — of how somebody like Mark Zuckerberg, one of the richest persons in the world, he dresses with a T-shirt. Yeah, it may cost $2,000, but it’s a T-shirt and a pair of jeans and sneakers. Then you find somebody who doesn’t have that much money, or money at all, and all these gold chains and rings and the most expensive shoes in the world and the Louis Vuitton whatever. I don’t even know much about those things, by the way.

Laurie Ruettimann:

Trying to look the part. Yeah. Yeah.

Enrique Rubio:

Yes. Trying to set themselves apart on the outside looking like something that it’s not what we value in them, but maybe what happens is that they don’t, perhaps, believe in the real value they bring to the table, and they need to create all this fake personas, all this fake image about what they are or who they are. They bring all this technology, and they say, “Look how fancy I am for bringing this company or that company.” And we do this — let me give you actually one example of this, Laurie. I talked to this HR leader once about the technology, which I’m not going to mention that he was using, for something about mental health. 

I asked him, “Are people using your mental health tech for the purposes that it was supposed to be implemented?” He said, “No. Probably about 90% of the people are not using it.” I said, “Well, that means that the technology means shit then, because if you have it in there and nobody’s using it, why do you have it in the first place?” They were like, “Well, we thought it was the technology brand name behind it and people trusted it and blah, blah, blah.”

It’s kind of like a similar case in here, right? You think about people wanting to implement technology, and technology is to enhance what we should be doing, but it’s not to replace sort of the bottom line of what it is that we should be doing.

Laurie Ruettimann:

Well, I love that thinking because, so often, we can see it in our daily lives, right? We go to the grocery store and we go to the self-checkout and the self-checkout’s not working. What they’ve designed is technology and oriented people around it instead of thinking about people and implementing technology to make us get in and out of the grocery store faster, right? But how often do technology companies feel empowered to be consultants and leaders and guides, right? They want to solve with tech instead of solving at the human level.

Enrique Rubio:

That’s another KPI. Yeah. That’s another KPI.

Laurie Ruettimann:

Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. But how do we change this model?

Enrique Rubio:

Well, first of all, we need to look at what venture capitalists are investing in and how they’re measuring this success, right? We know success for them means how much money you’re making. The more you’re making, the more successful you are. Then we go to cases like the one that I mentioned before, of this leader telling me 90% of people are not using the tech for mental health in our company.

So, that means that the real change that could have happened didn’t actually happen. At the end of the day, what’s happening here, you just implemented technology, you sold it, you have the money in your pocket, but it didn’t make any change. So, how do we do this? I think HR has to be very, very savvy to have deep conversations about the role of technology in the workplace, and what it is meant to do, and engage with other sort of champions of these conversations in the organization.

Going back, actually, I want to mention something here, Laurie, to the supermarket sort of example, which is fascinating by the way. Yes, I want to go faster. I like to be generally in the checkout line by myself, but I like the experience in a supermarket. I like to walk around and see things and touch things and whatnot. 

There were these people, I think it was in Sweden or Finland, I can’t remember, and their local supermarket, or their local grocery stores, they automated part of the thing and now they have self-checkouts and less cashiers. So, when they interviewed the people in this town, which were mostly elderly people in the town, a retirement community, they said, “Now, you know what? I can do that, and I can go faster, but I miss having the conversation with the cashier. You’re just talking about our days.” Right?

All I’m thinking is, the tech succeeded, but nothing really changed in the bottom line. Actually, ended up making it worse for the people who wanted to have a different experience out of their interactions with cashiers and not just going through their self-checkout.

So, the same thing applies here, right? You want to do something about mental health. Is it enough to bring an app that connects people with a potential coach? I don’t think so. I don’t think that’s enough. You have to have better conversations, you have to understand better to make sure that your processes are right, and then you have technology. Once again, technology’s like the last step in the process.

Laurie Ruettimann:

Well, I love this example of mental health and mental wellbeing, and I just want to stick with it for a moment because I’m thinking about technology in this space. Years ago, the EAP was disruptive. The EAP was innovative, and at its height, the EAP has a utilization rate of 15% in most organizations. Everybody goes to the medicalized processes, but they don’t use the EAP, and back in the day, that was revolutionary.

Not even in wellbeing, but I wonder if there’s technology out there that looks really flashy right now that, five or 10 years from now, we’re going to go, “Well, that was stupid.” Do you have any predictions in HR about anything we’re doing in terms of tech where we’re hyping something and we’re like, in the future, we know it’s going to be dumb?

Enrique Rubio:

I think a lot of the things that we do ‌with technology, they go through that. Especially in the last few decades, they go through this hype cycle. Oh, like ChatGPT for example, which is the new thing. ChatGPT-4, which is videos and images, blah, blah, blah. There’s just gigantic hype. Everybody wants to be in ChatGPT, and everybody’s using it. I think that in three, four, five years from now, maybe even less, we’re going to be like, “All right, now it’s mainstream.”

What we’re going to find out is that Google, for example, will be punishing SEOs created by ChatGPT. Now we’re going to be rehiring the creative people that were supposed to be partially replaced by these automated systems. We’re going to be hiring them again to either check what ChatGPT is doing or to rewrite it or to write it from scratch altogether because we’re finding out that as we do technology, there are these hypes about technology. We create some guard rails that then prevent the full realization of the potential of that technology the way it was thought about in the first place. So, I think maybe everything that we’re doing with technology right now has an element of hype. Maybe I am wrong, but I think we’re going to see ChatGPT and all other technologies sort of in the same way.

Laurie Ruettimann:

I love where this conversation is going because I’ve been thinking a lot about people analytics and data analytics. Because before the pandemic, that’s all people could talk about like, “Oh, let’s strengthen people analytics and let’s hire data analysts.” Then during the pandemic, we forgot about that and we’re like, “We want to get more human. We want to tell stories.” As if the two are mutually exclusive.

So, I just wonder in a couple years from now, if we’ll have kind of a reckoning around data and analytics and go, “God, we got that whole conversation wrong, and here’s what we’re going to do instead.” I mean, that was just one thing that was so crucial, so important, so full of hype, and now nobody is talking about people analytics, right? Upskilling, reskilling, new skilling, that was a big thing, too, during the pandemic. Nobody is talking about new skilling anymore. That had a cycle of six months. So, I don’t know. I mean, it’s just fascinating to me.

Enrique Rubio:

You know what happens, and this is one of the things that I don’t like about HR by the way, but it’s not something that I don’t like about HR as in HR people and practitioners, it’s something that I don’t like about the field of expertise that we called HR. There’s no real research about HR. There’s no real scientific rigorous research on HR. What happens, and you find it in these so-called gurus and experts in the HR space, all they end up doing is they send out a survey and they ask — the same HR people they are trying to change — they are asking them what do they think the future will look like? They collect all these responses and 11,000 people, 20,000 people, that’s what they say by the way, whatever it is, say that it’s 50,000 people in HR currently. They say, “Well, I think next year’s going to be all about people analytics.”

You’re asking that question to the very person who is not using people analytics today, doesn’t know yet the power, for example, of people analytics, and you’re asking them what they think the future will look like. These experts put out a research saying, “The future of HR is people analytics.” That is not research, that is not science. That is a survey that you packed in a beautiful report and now you’re putting it out.

Now you get other fields of expertise where there’s science, there’s behavioral economics, psychology, neuroscience applied to sales, to marketing, even to technology, and they are putting a lot of money into those fields because they want to truly understand customer experience, whatever it is. Then they translate that into actionable insights but not necessarily because they’re asking people what the future will look like, but because they are assessing from a scientific point of view what it could look like. 

I don’t feel that’s happening — not just that I don’t feel, it’s not happening in HR — and that to me is very, very dangerous. Very dangerous, because we continue to listen to the same people telling us the same story.

Laurie Ruettimann:

Do you have any theories as to why? Because I think one of the reasons why we don’t have evidence-based HR practices is because HR is a big hodgepodge of a lot of different duties, responsibilities, philosophies, ways of operating, and there’s no real, just from the start, concise definition of what’s included in the world of human resources.

So then, how can you create these fields of expertise and create rigor around these domains if HR is defined differently from one consulting firm to one pharmaceutical company to one manufacturing organization. There’s no consistency in even understanding what it means. I think that’s because HR is one big compromise at many organizations, but I don’t know. You tell me. Why don’t we have any rigor?

Enrique Rubio:

I’m going to say probably that’s a valid reason, and I think definitely it has something to do with the lack of rigorosity in HR. But, at the same time, perhaps there’s another component which is “the show me the money” component. Are we a cost center or are we a revenue- or value-generating function? Of course, I know the answer to that. I know the answer is we are value-creating, revenue-generating function.

Laurie Ruettimann:

Yeah, where? Where are we?

Enrique Rubio:

We are not there yet. So, in the spectrum between being a cost center on the lower end of the spectrum, and on the other end of the spectrum, a highly valuable, highly revenue-generating function, I think we are way before the half point in that spectrum. So, as long as a business leader or researchers or academics or scientists don’t see that we can make a difference, that we can make money for those organizations, I don’t think there’s going to be a lot of investment in us. And I will continue to see the same “gurus,” experts talking about the same things that they have been talking about for so many years.

Laurie Ruettimann:

What’s so interesting to me, and I think it’s just indicative of our industry in general, is that we talk about business leaders and we talk about HR professionals as if they’re separate. Talk to me a little bit about this. And how do we bridge the gap and make those HR professionals at least see themselves as the business leaders that they really are?

Enrique Rubio:

Yeah. Well, I’m going to begin by answering that question with something that I’ve been saying more recently because I think now I’m in a place where, given the community that I built, perhaps my voice is more respected than when I started doing this. You have some of this — I want to go back to some of this, what experts have said. They present operational frameworks for HR and they say, “Well, this is the newest operational framework. This is the newest operational system. This is the newest of ways of methodologies for HR to work on and blah, blah, blah.” 

I value that, don’t get me wrong. I say, “All right, this is cool to have.”But you know what’s never going to change? Those operational frameworks or systems or models will never change the value that we add if we continue to keep the same mindset. Because what can happen is, you have the most advanced operational model in the world. As an agent practitioner, you continue to see your own work as a transactional work. So what’s going to end up happening is that that framework, you will turn it into a transaction because you cannot deliver its full value.

So what do I think needs to happen? There’s a pre-step that none of these people talk about, and I talk a lot about this in what I do in Hacking HR, which is we need to change our mindsets. We need to believe that we are business leaders with a people hat. That we are business leaders that are resolving complex business challenges with people solutions. Just believing in that, even if you don’t know how to do it yet, it doesn’t matter, but if you believe that that’s true, then the way you approach your work, the way you approach your relationships, the way you build your influence, the way you tackle a challenge changes completely.

Then, only then, can those operational models make a little bit more sense, but you have to have that pre-step already kind of embraced, meaning you have to believe that you are not just an HR person running payroll or hiring or firing or enforcing policy. You have to believe that you are creating value for people and the organization, that you are solving problems, that you are a business leader, and then you find out how to make it happen. But this pre-step has not happened — I’m going to say, overgeneralizing here, it hasn’t happened for most people in HR yet. That click, that mental flipping the switch hasn’t happened yet.

Laurie Ruettimann:

Hundred percent agree, and I think that may be the value of what you provide, at least some of the value with Hacking HR. You have a community where people are beaten down every day and told “You only do HR,” and the power of a community like yours is that people can come together and get language, get reinforcement, get data if they can, or at least hear other stories from people who are operating as business leaders with people expertise, but I don’t know. Tell me, what else does Hacking HR do to help reinforce that notion that you’re a business leader?

Enrique Rubio:

We talk a lot about it, all the time, in everything we do. Just a couple of weeks ago, we had an event, a weeklong event called HR: The Trailblazer, and it’s sort of the fundamental behind that event, which is the second time that I do it, by the way. I did it last year, too. It was the idea that HR can be, has the potential to be — we’re not there yet — but we have the potential to be the leaders that are marking the way forward for people, for organizations into what some people call the future of work. Some others call it the new reality of work, some others call it the now of work. Whatever you call it, I feel, and I believe, that we can be those leaders leading the path forward.

Why do I believe that we have that potential? Because we’re sitting in sort of in a unique and extraordinary position. We are sitting at the intersection of people operations and business operations, and that’s a unique vantage point that we have in there. You have marketing, sales, IT, finance people, very engaged in their own kind of technical field, in their own daily technical grind. We see what they’re doing, but we also see what’s happening everywhere else with the people in our organizations and hopefully with the people across our industry.

So if that is true, then we can connect a number of dots and say, “Hey, you know what? In five years from now, our industry seems to be going in this direction. This is what we need to be doing today to get ready for what’s going to happen in five years from now.” Do we have what’s needed to have that vision to connect those dots? I don’t think we have that yet. I think it’s a work in progress, but that’s why I said before, it begins by you believing as an HR professional that you have that power, that potential, and only then can you move on to think about operational frameworks and strategies, blah, blah, blah, in a different kind of light. But that’s the beginning, to me, and that’s what we’re doing with Hacking HR.

Laurie Ruettimann:

Well, as we wrap up the conversation, I want to ask you one question, because this is something I hear in my own world. People will say to me, “Laurie, it’s great that you think you know the world of human resources and you think the world of work, but you’re not consulting anymore, and you’re not a business partner. You’re not out there in the trenches.” 

My answer to that is, “Fuck consulting. What consultant never changed the world?” So I no longer consult, mostly because I don’t like listening to people take my advice and then not seeing them do anything with it. I found that to be very frustrating. So Enrique, I know you don’t consult right now, so can you talk to me a little bit about that, and how do you make sure that you stay connected to the world of work?

Enrique Rubio:

Yeah, absolutely. Well, the hundreds of conversations that I have all the time with the people who are on the trenches. I was on the trenches, as well, and takes me back, by the way. Don’t think that I’m throwing so much dirt on top of all these experts and gurus in the HR space. But, to me it’s very hard — 

Laurie Ruettimann:

No, that’s me. I’m doing that.

Enrique Rubio:

Yeah, no. I know, but you know what happens? It’s very hard for me to believe that somebody puts out all this research and, having never been in HR, to think that it’s possible for them to understand whether these ideas can become real or not. I have been in HR, I have been on the ground, I have been on the trenches, so I know how hard it is to say, “Oh yeah, believe in your power to become a trailblazer.” 

But I know that when you go to the real world, everybody’s so freaking busy that they don’t have the time to even think of them as becoming these trailblazers. But the way I approach this is just by having these conversations and listening to people. What are they spending most of their time on? How can we be of support to them? What are some of the things where they need the most amount of help? Then what I do is, I take all those conversations and all those stories, and I try to combine them with my own vision about what HR could be. 

Again, you go back 120 years ago, and the quote attributed to Henry Ford saying, “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would’ve set a faster horse instead of a car.” If you ask people today in HR, what do they want? Maybe they want to do faster transactions, faster payroll or faster hiring and firing, whatever it is. I’m thinking, yeah, but no. That’s within the box where you’re operating now. If I think more holistically with a different vision, there’s a lot more that I want to bring to the table.

So, I combine those stories, what people need today, with what I think we should be doing. And I try to find — never a middle ground because I am not going to sacrifice what we do for transaction. People send me emails like, “Hey, you don’t have anything about policy in your workplace, in your platform.” Nor will we have anything about policies in our platform. Not that I don’t think that’s important, it is, but that’s not what I want to do. That’s not what I want to focus on. Go to SHRM to do that. I mean, that’s what they do. If you want something more progressive, more forward-thinking, more about the promise of the real kind of HR, come to us. So, that’s how I manage it.

Laurie Ruettimann:

I love that. We need you out there dreaming. We need you on that wall. We need you protecting us and really pushing us to grow in this industry. Enrique, I’m just so glad we’re friends, and I’m glad you spent a little bit of time with me today. If people want to learn more about you, your community, how do you connect with people? Where do you send them?

Enrique Rubio:

They just go to my LinkedIn profile, Enrique Rubio. I post a lot of stuff. They can go to the Hacking HR LinkedIn page, as well. We put a lot of content out all the time, so just follow us.

Laurie Ruettimann:

Amazing. We’ll make sure we have all that information in the show notes. On behalf of just everybody out there, thank you for the work that you do. Most of all, Enrique, thanks again for being my friend and a guest on this week’s Punk Rock HR.

Enrique Rubio:

Thank you, Laurie. Thank you so much for inviting me. It was fun. Thank you.

Laurie Ruettimann:

If you’re interested in learning more about today’s show, you can visit There you’ll find show notes, links, resources, and all the good stuff. Now, that’s all for today. Thanks for joining us, sharing this episode and leaving thoughtful comments on Instagram and LinkedIn. We appreciate your support, this and every week, on Punk Rock HR.