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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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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.

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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.

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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?

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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.

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Next Year is Finally Now.

It’s November 5th. The year is almost over. Have you achieved your goals? Want to take a risk in January but are afraid of getting fired? Are you looking to shake up your career in 2019? Well, you don’t have to be Mark Zuckerberg or Brené Brown to try new things and put yourself first. It’s time to fix your career.

Starting on December 3rd, I’m offering private group coaching with realistic lessons and advice on risk-taking and entrepreneurship (and intrapreneurship) to make 2019 your best year ever. Here’s what you’ll get if you sign up for my group coaching:

1. Five weeks of coaching in a small group via ZoomThere are four group lessons and a private coaching session with me. You’ll listen to good advice about how to take risks in 2019 without getting fired, you’ll learn from the best, and we’ll work together to implement your new career plans for 2019. Need to miss a session? It’s recorded for you.

2. A special Facebook group to network with like-minded peers and gain support. Nobody needs another FB group, so we’ll make this one better with practical advice and input from guests who will inspire you daily.

3. An “AMA” (ask me anything) session. More than just a lazy Q&A, I’ll answer your questions about what it really takes to start your new journey, and I’ll dispell myths about a side hustle.

4. Access to an entrepreneurial guest speaker and a free book. I’ll write more about this tomorrow.

5. A wrap-up session to cover the next steps and where you go from here. You fix work by fixing yourself. After five weeks together, you’ll walk away with a new attitude and an action plan.

Want more for yourself in 2019?

If you have career dreams — going back to school, opening an ice cream store, submitting a patent, getting promoted — we’ll have five weeks together where we cover how to put yourself first, take risks, and explore entrepreneurship (or intrapreneurship) in 2019.

The class is capped at 12 participants, we meet every Monday night in December, and the sessions are recorded if you miss one. The rate is $479, which includes an hour of private coaching, and there’s a 14-day money-back guarantee.

Sign up now with the blue button below or in the sidebar. I’ll be back tomorrow with more news about the class. ⤵️⤵️

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Hi, everybody, I’m on medical leave. Nobody get any big ideas about asking me for anything. I’m milking this time off for every stinkin’ minute away from PR pitches and email messages about machine learning and cryptocurrency.

But, since I have some free time on my hands while I heal, let me tell you about what it’s like to have gallbladder surgery. Wait, let’s back up, and I’ll tell you what it’s like to have a dodgy gallbladder.

It sucks.

For the past seventeen months, I’ve been telling myself that I had digestive issues because I’m an unattractive perimenopausal middle-aged woman with shoddy DNA who deserves to suffer because she failed at launching a tech startup and stopped running marathons.

Broken gallbladder? No, I’ve got a broken brain.

I told myself—this pain is what happens when you lose your competitive edge in life. I’m doomed to be miserable and unhealthy. Isn’t it natural to have hot flashes when you eat bread? Isn’t it normal to feel like someone is punching you in the rib cage when you eat a grilled cheese? Get used to your 40s, Laurie. This is what it’s like to get older.

It turns out, I’m an idiot.

Didn’t help that my doctors weren’t in much of a rush to diagnose me with anything. Even though I had all the hallmarks of a failing gallbladder and gallstones—including a fever, hot flashes, shakes, cramping — I got diagnosed in the emergency room with an “abdominal muscle strain.”

By the time I saw a gastroenterologist worth a damn and had an ultrasound, I was in severe pain. That’s when I found out that I had some gallstones — one of which was 1.3 cm big.

(How big is that? Who knows, I’m not metric. But it was big enough to bring me to my knees in the kitchen when drinking coffee.)

So, I scheduled my gallbladder surgery for last week. And, honestly, it was the easiest thing I’ve done in ages compared to being kicked in the gut by cholecystitis. Once I got over my fear of anesthesia, things went smoothly. They yanked out my mushy gallbladder, and I’m currently rocking a bloated abdomen with glued-up holes. But I’m not even on pain medicine. I was up and walking around the next day.

Sounds great, right? Well, it’s not all wine and roses in the Ruettimann household. I had to drink three servings of Miralax to start pooping. I didn’t wash my hair for five days. And I’m on light duty and can’t lift more than a jug of milk for six weeks, which sucks because I don’t know how much a jug of milk weighs but I’m pretty sure my cat Emma is two jugs and likes to be carted around like a princess. It’s hard to explain to her that mommy doesn’t want a hernia.

miralax

So, yeah, I have to take it slow, which means that I’m not going to answer your email message right away, but I’m feeling fine under the circumstances. Gallbladder surgery was a relief, and already I’m feeling better and have moved on from soup to solid foods. I’m digesting meals like a champion, and I’m not breaking into a sweat from Ritz crackers. Life is good.

Here’s what I thought I knew: I’m an athlete. When people tell you to take it easy and listen to your body, they are mostly wrong. The body wants you to avoid pain and achieve homeostasis, and your mind will trick you into quitting before it’s necessary. And I’m here to tell you that you can physically push yourself at least 30% harder without any athletic training and achieve exponentially higher results in this world.

However, if you feel like you’re going to die when you eat a taco, it’s probably time to see a good doctor who knows a thing or two about how the body works. Otherwise, you’ll end up like me — having gallbladder surgery 17 months after your initial symptoms, tormenting yourself for no goddamn reason. You don’t want gallbladder surgery, or any medical procedure, under those stressful conditions.

•••••

Check out our latest podcast episode here:

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Do you know the difference between wellness and wellbeing?

Wellness refers to physical health. When your employer talks about wellness, they want you to quit smoking and lose weight to bring down health insurance costs. You know what brings down health insurance costs? Better regulation of health insurance companies and medical providers. But, no, you have to lose five pounds and give up donuts. That’s wellness.

Wellbeing is more holistic and is used to talk about life experiences and feelings. Employers bucket wellbeing into three different categories: physical, emotional, and financial. Your company still wants to lower costs, but there’s a move to cost-per-employee as well as revenue-per-employee to engagement scores.

If you’re happy in those three buckets — and making “good choices” as defined by industry experts who understand healthy outcomes — you’ll make your company more money. If you’re not satisfied with life, your employer won’t be as profitable.

So, how do companies measure things like happiness and engagement?

Well, some employers partner with solution providers to send out surveys and then respond to the data. It’s programmatic and sometimes assumes the outcomes, or, at the very least, has a list of solutions for different scenarios.

Other employers will hire technology companies and look at your calendar — yes, your daily schedule — and try to understand what you’re doing with your day. Then they’ll swoop in with personalized recommendations on meeting with your manager more, finding a mentor, asking for feedback from your colleagues, getting more exercise, doing more meditation, taking a digital detox, or even recommendations for PTO.

And still other employers will use wearables like your badge to see if you’re stationary or getting up and moving around during the day. Google pioneered this with their cafeterias. They would monitor who was eating where, and they’d open and close lunch stations to encourage connectivity between different groups of workers. Wearables help employers monitor physical activity in a bunch of new ways. Now, your company wants you to get up and move around because sitting is the new smoking.

So, I’m here to postulate a new theory about wellness and wellbeing. The difference between the two is how the two are measured. Wellness is self-reported, and wellbeing is surveilled and diagnosed.

Employers are over employee engagement surveys and wellness programs because those are reactionary and, honestly, a lagging indicator of an organization’s wellbeing. They want to surveil you, diagnose you, and treat you before you even know what’s wrong. We live in a world of cameras, sensors, and data tracking tools. Pull everything together, and you get a predictive picture of what’s going right — and what could go wrong — with the biggest line-item expense in your budget.

Welcome to the era of employee wellbeing. Your company loves you and cares about you. And they’re watching your every move to prove it.

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