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Today is Fat Tuesday, Shrove Tuesday, Pancake Tuesday and Pączki Tuesday. It’s all fun and games until Ash Wednesday when everything goes downhill for Baby Jesus.

(Someone should warn him!)

Lent is such a downer a time of reflection, and many Christians give up smoking, drinking, chocolate, swearing, being on the internet, etc., to honor the sacrifice of Christ on the cross. Then, on Easter, they go back to normal as if those 40 days never happened.

Let’s do this whole thing differently in 2019.

I think giving stuff up is narcissistic. Instead of embracing austerity and being miserable for six weeks, I think it’s time to improve the quality of your life and take up something new.

What can you take up for Lent?

• Can you embrace a new hobby?
• Get to know somebody new?
• Be curious about your neighbors, colleagues or associates?
• Become a little healthier by adding instead of subtracting things to your diet?

Don’t do less of something bad and mope around about it. Do more of something good and make small but incremental improvements to your life.

Wonder how to do Lent differently? Time to get quiet and reflect on your needs. What makes you happy? Who brings you joy? How do you know when life is good?

Stop punishing yourself for being human. Give your time, attention and energy to the activities that positively move the needle.

I’m not Christian, but I think that’s what Jesus wants for me during Lent 2019. What does He want for you?

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Recently on the Let’s Fix Work podcast, I had the pleasure of chatting with radio personality, Ryan Arnold. He’s a longtime friend and DJ at WXRT, Chicago’s Finest Rock. He’s also the founder of Desoto and State Communications. We talked about what it’s like to have a dream job and how health insurance makes dreams possible. We also covered side hustles, entrepreneurship, and the art and act of service. What I found most fascinating and endearing about Ryan was his passion for communicating on behalf of the little guy. Through his communications company, Desoto and State Communications, Ryan helps nonprofits with their marketing and communication.

Ryan said, “There are so many not for profit organizations in the world, in Chicago especially, that serve a micro community. And those organizations, they’re doing good work. But, they’re not going to get recognized by media. They’re not going to have an article written about the Executive Director. For example, a nonprofit bringing mobile health facilities to underprivileged neighborhoods. They deserve attention.”

And Ryan is a born communicator, it’s in his DNA (as you’ll hear me say time and again in our interview together). So I was not too shocked to learn this about him.

Ryan used his knowledge of media, his knowledge and experience in advertising and marketing to serve nonprofit organizations. What started as something as simple as helping someone write a press release turned into a company. His business is thriving and he is doing important work.

So why am I sharing this with you today? Because with every conversation we hear and have, (in this podcast or in the workplace) there is something to be learned. In this case, it’s understanding that your abilities can be used to affect the world around you, in a good way. In Ryan’s case, he “helps the little guys get their fair share of the pie.”

What are you doing to make the world around you, your organization, your workplace, and also your community, better? If you’re not of service as an entrepreneur, what are you doing?

If you want to hear more of my conversation with Ryan and all about how dream jobs happen with health insurance from a smooth-talking radio personality and PR professional, then listen to this episode of Let’s Fix Work, here.

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Disclosure: This post is sponsored National Car Rental, but all thoughts and opinions are my own.

When’s the best time to visit New Zealand? Whenever someone pays for you to come!

Back in November 2017, someone invited me to speak at a recruiting conference. As part of my compensation package, the organizers paid my airfare and travel expenses to Auckland. You can’t fly around the world without seeing a few sights, so I extended my visit for two weeks and explored the North and South Islands of New Zealand.

It’s common for business travelers to add leisure activities to business trips. It’s called “bleisure,” and according to the second annual National Car Rental State of Business Travel Survey, 90 percent of millennials have engaged in bleisure travel in the past year compared with 81 percent of Generation Xers and 80 percent of baby boomers.

Do You Bleisure?

Bleisure travel is common among millennials; however, it’s hot with business travelers of all ages. Those of us who blend business with leisure report having a higher satisfaction with our quality of life (93 percent vs. 75 percent of non-bleisure travelers) and better work/life balance (87 percent vs. 64 percent of non-bleisure travelers).

I bleisured the heck out of my trip to New Zealand!

I began in Auckland by renting a car and learning how to drive on the left-hand side of the road. I drove to Rotorua and walked through a volcanic park and soaked in hot springs that smelled like sulfur pools.

From there, I headed south to Lake Taupo, which is a gorgeous body of water with an adorable lakeside village nearby. After I watched the sunrise, I drove to a town called Napier. Decimated by an earthquake, they rebuilt it during the Art Deco era with lots of gold and ornate gilding. The whole town looks like The Great Gatsby meets Al Capone.

Millennials Bleisure More Than the Rest

Millennials lead the way in bleisure. Almost half (49 percent) of millennials say they’ve extended business travel into a leisure trip or scheduled a vacation around business travel to save on vacation costs.

I was born in 1975, which makes me a late Gen Xer, but I love the bleisure trend and try to bring my audience along on my work-related trips. While millennials are more likely to share photos of their bleisure travel experiences on social media (72 percent) compared to Gen Xers (60 percent) and baby boomers (41 percent), I’m an outlier and shared about 500 photos from that trip to New Zealand. In fact, this blog post proves I’m still bragging about my trip.

From that little Art Deco town, I caught a flight to Christchurch and kicked around the main city center for a day. An earthquake destroyed Christchurch in 2011, but there are signs of life all over that city. Because it was springtime, the roses were in bloom and the town was booming with birds and bees and tourists.

Tell Everybody About Bleisure

I left Christchurch and drove to Mt. Cook, which is the highest mountain in New Zealand. I stopped at beautiful towns like Fairlie—an Irish-looking settlement with lots of sheep and goats—and Lake Tekapo Village, which is a picturesque lakeside hamlet on the shores of stunning turquoise-colored Lake Tekapo. The sun was shining, the lupins were blooming, and the Southern Alps rose in the distance. It was a breathtaking drive.

I stayed at The Hermitage at Mt. Cook and had a baller room with a fabulous view. Not to rest on my laurels, I went on an excursion to see the Tasman Glacier. It was a bucket-list item attained. 

I was shocked to learn millennial bleisure travelers (45 percent) feel they should avoid telling others about taking time for fun or personal activities while on a business trip compared to Gen Xers (40 percent) and baby boomers (30 percent). Millennials avoid telling their bosses (46 percent) and their families (41 percent).

Life’s too short not to at least have a little fun on your business trips. After all, you can emulate healthy adult behaviors and show people the real meaning of work-life balance.

Take a Trip, Embrace Bleisure

“Sightseeing” is the single most popular leisure activity among bleisure travelers (75 percent), and that rings true for me. I left Mt. Cook and drove to Queenstown on a route that’s famous for old mining towns, rivers, and bungee jumping localities. 

From Queenstown, I went on an excursion to the Doubtful Sound. It’s in the center of New Zealand’s Fiordland National Park, and the long ride was worth the trip. It was a stunning day, not a cloud in the sky, and we saw six whales and a bunch of penguins. If you don’t think I didn’t blast that video on Instagram, you must be new around here.

Life for a road warrior can be challenging. The best way to make your work trips more exciting and entertaining? Get a little bleisure in your life and take pictures of your fun activities.

Ultimately, work-life balance comes down to choices. You might as well have a little fun if you have to travel, so channel your inner millennial and bleisure your way through your next work trip Make sure you tag me on the photos so I can see what you’re up to, too! 

You can find out more about the National Car Rental Stats of Business Travel Survey here.

Visit the website to register for the National Car Rental Emerald Club to save on your next business trip.

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From a reader:

Have a quick question for you…how in the heck did you learn to market the way you do? I’ve been studying your Twitter feed and it’s like you take people on a journey of your life both professional/personal. You make people feel like they know you. How do you do this?

That’s not a quick question, but here was my quick answer:

I’m talented. 😘

The reader is asking two questions about himself:

1. Can I learn to do what Laurie is doing?
2. How do I create a sense of authenticity and intimacy like Laurie?

The first question is very easy. Sure, you can do what I do. I’m storytelling via digital media, and I learned how to do this from watching other people and copying their methods. The tools are out there. The roadmaps are built. You can even outsource your social media and still get away with storytelling.

But the second question — the one about authenticity and intimacy — is much harder to answer. I’ve had to negotiate my way through relationships and endeavors to land at the place where I am now: interesting enough that key people pay attention but not interesting enough where I’m stalked and harassed online.

The only people who pay attention to me are the individuals who go out of their way to look, which means that I’m relatively safe. My fan base is 52% male, mostly over the age of 35, and they earn more than $100,000/year. I can share details and perspectives without being assailed.

I love the fact that it’s easy to live my middle-aged life in public and without much hassle. There are some people who don’t care for me — and it’s for respectable reasons — but nobody wants to destroy or defame me. They just ignore me, dismiss me, block me, or disregard me when my name comes up in their social media feeds.

Isn’t that just great? How blessed am I to live this life of HR fame and fortune?

I’m fully aware that my HR famousness gets renegotiated when I publish my next book and start making media appearances, again. More people will watch, I’ll have new competition, and I’ll have to figure out a new strategy to share important information about my journey while maintaining some level of privacy and safety.

I’m not sure how it will go, but I know this: my relationship with my readers — executives, HR leaders, supervisors, and individual workers — matters to me. Call it influencer marketing or call it storytelling. The only way to take people on a professional and personal journey is to open the damn door and invite them in.

That’s not marketing, that’s manners.

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I’m just back from 24 hours in Las Vegas where I spent time remembering my friend IJ Gorman.

Ira-John Gorman was an athlete, a coach, and a teacher. He persisted through a rocky childhood and made a place for himself in this world by being an advocate for children, their education, and his faith. Family was everything to him, and his definition of “family” included people who endured less-than-stellar upbringings.

And his definition of a family included me thanks to his lovely wife, China Gorman.

China and I have been friends for a decade. On a trip to Las Vegas in 2010 or 2011, my husband and I joined the Gorman family for dinner at Ceasars Palace. Ken sat to my right, IJ sat to my left, and because I have atrocious table manners, I kept trying to drink IJ’s water.

I grabbed his water a dozen times before IJ laughed and told me, “Look at your hands and make the ‘okay’ sign. See how your left makes a b, and your right makes a d? Bread and drink. Bread and drink. Bread and drink.”

Ken and I still use that to this day!

It’s so funny that IJ Gorman taught me table manners, but he was committed to being a positive influence in my life. When I saw him at HR events, he always asked me if I was doing okay. Were people treating me with respect? Anybody hassling me? Because I should come to him if there was anything I ever needed. Did I hear him? Was he clear? Come to him with anything. He was here for me.

When I had the privilege of seeing IJ in person, our conversations always went to respect and integrity. He believed in the adage that how you do anything is how you do everything. Having a personal brand online and a different set of behaviors in real life was appalling. There should be no daylight between what’s in your heart and how you act in person. Show up for people no matter the medium. Relationships matter.

I went to Cuba with China in 2015, and IJ sent a message on Facebook asking for photos of his lovely bride in Havana. She would never think to post selfies. He wanted to see his wife enjoying herself.

I ask you — How many husbands would do that?

And IJ reached out with support and kind words about my blog posts, speaking events and videos. He’d send cat videos to say hello. And he never missed my birthday.

IJ was such a phenomenal human being, and his memorial service was everything you’d expect for a guy who was so beloved by friends, family, and colleagues. Everybody in the room laughed and cried, and, not that it needed to be confirmed, but it was clear IJ was a powerhouse of a human being who made the world a better place.

We all just got better for knowing him.

#IJGB

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Just yesterday, the Coast Guard published a newsletter for its furloughed workers and family members with advice and tips on how to earn fast cash during the government shutdown.

Among the many gems? Have a garage sale or be a mystery shopper.

America has hit a shabby low under Donald Trump. The shutdown isn’t impacting the elite bureaucrats and coastal technocrats who overlegislate our country into a hyperfeminized nanny-state.

The government shutdown touches regular people — parents, neighbors, and even HR professionals.

Hey, Laurie, I’m currently furloughed from work…and looking to make some extra cash. Do you think you can give me some pointers on how to get some speaking/training gigs? I’m looking to expand my portfolio of work. Appreciate any insights you can share!

First of all, I’m sorry you’re caught up in Donald Trump’s hissy fit. Because he’s too stupid to remember the nuances of immigration policy, and because he’s trying to distract us from the constant stream of bad news coming from Mueller investigation — you’re out of work. Thanks, Vladimir Putin.

Second, I’m sorry your job is linked to racist attitudes against brown people, women and children. You work in HR, a department believes in ability and merit, and your livelihood is jeopardized by people who believe in fencing in brown people like zoo animals. That’s gotta sting.

So, how do you earn fast cash during the government shutdown?

Get yourself to a temp agency like Kelly Services. Literally, pick one out and meet with the branch manager. Tell your story to the people in the office, and let them know you’re available immediately for training opportunities — or anything where you can use your brain.

Relationships are the currency of the private sector. Be a name and a face. Be helpful and enthusiastic. They’ll help you out because staffing agencies have been saving lives and monthly household budgets like yours in America for 60 years.

Find a staffing agency ASAP. And I’m going to send another note to my senators, Richard Burr and Thom Tillis, with a link to your story. Good luck, and I’m sorry we aren’t doing better by our government workers.

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Everybody’s got a life coach these days.

Not only that, many entrepreneurs and professionals are taking part in mastermind groups. Mastermind groups are very trendy right now. You join a group where you pay a monthly fee, you get on a call or video chat with a bunch of people, and the group holds one another accountable. The head of the mastermind group, typically a life coach, does little coaching. Masterminds are generally peer-to-peer support groups, and it’s really brilliant. If you’re the coach of the mastermind group, you don’t need to put in a whole lot of work.

Mastermind groups can be good for accountability. If you get out of the group what you put in, great. But, do you really need a life coach? My feelings about this topic came to a head while listening to a marketing podcast, when the host said these words, “Everybody needs a life coach.”

I thought, “Whoa, wait. What’s that all about?”

Here’s the thing: I’m not sure everybody really needs a life coach. Everybody needs access to good food and decent healthcare. Further, everybody deserves support, kindness and empathy.

But a life coach?

Sure, athletes have coaches. But for professionals and entrepreneurs, sometimes I think we say life coach when we really mean friends.

Or we say we need a life coach when we really mean therapy.  Everybody can probably use therapy because we don’t go through life unscathed.

No life coach is going to tell you to get quiet and to think about all the hurt and the pain and to go deep and understand why it happened. And you know most therapists can’t get you there because it’s terribly difficult work. It’s the work of a lifetime.

It is impossible for some people to get in touch with fears and patterns and then to connect those fears and patterns to hopes and dreams. But the work is important and the work is valuable.

A life coach won’t help you break free from self-limiting doubts. Maybe they will superficially, but they’re not going to help you break free from doubts, fears and patterns that accumulate over a lifetime.  

The work that most life coaches want to tell you that they can do but can’t do?. That work is solitary. It’s is quiet. It’s crucial. And the work has to be done alone. It’s done by you.

The work of living an authentic life where we are happy with ourselves and treat our bodies and souls with kindness? That doesn’t happen in a mastermind group or with a life coach. It barely happens in therapy. It happens in our hearts.

So the next time somebody tells you that everybody needs a life coach, tell them that the only life coach you need is you.

I can’t say this enough: Be your own life coach and fix what’s broken within yourself in those quiet moments that you would never admit to anybody in a mastermind group or on a Skype phone call. Be your own life coach and do the hard work of fixing yourself in 2019.

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Hey, everybody. Today is my birthday.

If you haven’t heard the details, the rumors are true — I am 44 years old, I have three cats, two sore hips, and one big wish for you to donate to Hustle Up the Hancock in honor of my birthday.

What is Hustle Up the Hancock? It’s actually an event that’s been rebranded as Hustle Chicago. I run up 94 flights of stairs to help fight lung disease. Your donation will go towards advocacy, research and programs to help people breathe easier.

Know someone with COPD? Do you have asthma? Are you struggling to quit smoking? Live in a house with radon? (I hope not!) I run up a skyscraper to help people breathe better, and I would welcome any donation — $5 or a million bucks — to improve the lives of people in Chicago and around the country.

Many of you know this race is important to me. It’s my 7th time up the skyscraper, and I’m running because my sister struggles to quit smoking. I’m also running in memory of my friend, Jenny Stein, who passed away from lung cancer at the age of 41. Science says quitting smoking is harder than quitting heroin, and these jokesters at Juul know it. But here’s the good news: if you can keep a kid smoke-free before they are 21, they probably won’t smoke for the rest of their lives.

So, thanks for all of your love and good wishes on my 44th birthday. Sucks to get older, but the journey is a little less painful when you have a purpose and goals that are bigger than yourself. Every donation on my birthday is special, and I’m also grateful for those of you who aren’t in a position to donate but send good wishes.

Love you all. Appreciate the support!

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I have a post-it note on my desk that says, “Write about resilience.”

It’s there because a friend of mine was catching flack from her friends for having a side hustle. She’s running a business, trying to drum up leads by being a thought leader on social media, and it’s not going over well with the people who love her the most.

“It’s demeaning.”
“It’s beneath you.”
“You’re embarrassing yourself.”
“Why are you always on Facebook?”

People have opinions, and they’re not afraid to share them.

My friend’s experience made me think about my blog and writing career. Not a day goes by when someone doesn’t offer an opinion about my work.

In the early days, the negative comments would bug me. Well, okay, they still bug me. Just recently, a friend told me that what I’m doing — trying to be an un-motivational speaker — is cringeworthy. And a former colleague said to me that my work stories are great but I better never write about him. Oh, and some of you know that my mom says I’m not allowed to write about her except to say that I have a mom and she’s alive.

Nobody loves you or has your best interests at heart like your family and friends, right?

But I’ve developed a thicker skin and some resilience.

Resilience is one of those words thrown around by self-help gurus and motivational speakers to push you when times are tough.

“Life is a marathon, not a sprint, and resilience helps you stay in the race and cross the finish line.”

I hate that analogy, and I speak from my experience as an entrepreneur and marathoner when I tell you that resilience isn’t a major muscle group. It’s not your glutes or your quads, pushing you up a hill when your body is exhausted. Resilience is the quality that gets you started in the first place.

You don’t sign up for life as an entrepreneur — or a speaker, writer, creative thinker, artist, small business owner, coach, consultant, parent, guardian, community leader, volunteer — without demonstrating resiliency. You’ve opted for something other than a comfortable, narrow, self-indulgent life. Congratulations, you’re resilient.

And resilience manifests in your work. Maybe you write, speak, perform, draw, sculpt, cross-stitch, build businesses, coach little league, or even work in HR. If you persist in the small moments when you could cut corners or avoid the work of doing the work, you’re resilient. No grunting required.

Finally, resilience is the ability to take incoming flack without compromising your values. Nobody does anything interesting without making a fool of themselves, first. Maybe your work is cringeworthy. Perhaps you’re embarrassing yourself and, possibly, others around you. Maybe you get it wrong more than you get it right.

But how about this — Maybe your friends are assholes? Maybe your family is jealous? Maybe your colleagues don’t have your best interests at heart?

If you can stand your ground and endure the judgments and jokes, you’re resilient.

It takes a backbone and resilience to say, “I’m sorry you feel that way about my work. What I’m doing is not for you. Don’t look.”

The good news is that it’s possible to be resilient even when it’s been difficult in the past. Everybody can demonstrate resilience on demand and without apology. And resilience is required if you ever want to do anything substantial with your life.

To be resilient in 2019, you must decide what you’re about to tackle is worth more than the collective opinions and ideas of those around you. Are you willing to stop caring about what others think? Willing to depend less on the advice of others and have the courage to redefine relationships, if necessary, to achieve your dreams? Give up the old to have something new and worthwhile?

I’m not sure if you are resilient, but I know my friend has a steel spine and can endure the petty comments and negative feedback from her family members. She’s resilient. And I believe you are, too.

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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.

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