SHRM memories

I have attended SHRM’s annual conference since 2008, but I’m sitting this year out.

The one thing I love about the event is that I make enduring “SHRM memories.” I thought I’d share some of them with you.

Chicago 2008.

I applied for a press pass and was accepted as one of the first bloggers to attend SHRM. Why does it matter that I was first? It doesn’t. At all. Except I owned the SHRM social media properties and Sue Meisinger was on leave. I couldn’t find anybody interested in taking them back. (For free! With no obligations!) I even went to the booth where they gave out those conference badge ribbons and said, “My name is Laurie Ruettimann. I own the SHRM YouTubes and Twitters. Do you know if there’s someone I can talk to?” I remember eating cookies at a booth and seeing Stedman Graham. Those were weird times.

Clothing memory: I wore my old Pfizer HR lady clothes and tried to keep a low profile.

New Orleans 2009.

SHRM wanted to give back to the residents of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, so they scheduled the annual HR conference in one of the hottest and dampest months of the year. I remember being on a panel moderated by China Gorman. We talked about social media and HR because it was new. I hung out with all the old school HR bloggers for the first time. It was sweet and innocent fun.

Clothing memory: There was a tweet-up, and I wore a DVF wrap dress. This is before Instagram, and there are photos of that night that I’ve never seen.

San Diego 2010.

It’s the year when I first spoke to students at SHRM. My back was sore. I had the worst posture and decided to take pilates after Matt Stollak laughed at how I was standing. Mary Ellen Slayter hosted a great dinner. (She always hosted great dinners.) Mark Stelzner and I bonded over being permanently sweaty. I met Tim Sackett’s wife for the first time on the rooftop of The Hard Rock Hotel. I also made a very popular video that defined the modern HR lady: tan — with a french manicure — and clutching a Coach purse. I regret that video. It’s not cool to talk about how people look. I was an idiot.

Clothing memory: I wore an olive jacket. I loved it. I’ve kept an olive military jacket in my closet ever since that conference. It’s a simple but important staple in my wardrobe.

Las Vegas 2011.

It was probably peak SHRM for me. I roomed with Jennifer McClure, who went to a private dinner with Mario Batali and gave me a signed cookbook. We had a huge suite at The Wynn. Some crappy vendor gave me an oil painting as a piece of swag. I jumped off the Stratosphere. (Lance videotaped it.) There was a late night at a club where Maren Hogan’s purse was stolen. I had Redbull and vodka for the first and last time.

Clothing memory: I wore a dark gray suit and looked like a real estate agent. I was growing out my hair and it looked like a mullet.

Atlanta 2012.

If you ever want to lose weight quickly, go to Atlanta in June and wear business casual clothing. Synthetic blends work best for maximizing your sweat. This conference was gross. The one bright spot? I worked for a company that straight-up organized one of the dirtiest parties in the history of HR conferences. I’d like to say that I’m not proud of myself, but I’m extremely proud of myself. That event made me into a badass marketing professional who knows how to give people what they want: alcohol and a good time.

Clothing memory: I kept it simple due to the heat. At the end of the conference, I gave up on my appearance. It was so hot. I wore an Eddie Bauer shirt and looked like a camp counselor. It’s immortalized forever in a shot with John Nykolaiszyn.

Chicago 2013.

Chicago is my hometown and where my SHRM conference journey began. I spoke to students and told them not to major in HR, which pissed off everybody at SHRM. I roomed with Jennifer McClure, and we had our hair and make-up done at Elizabeth Arden. They are my go-to spa on the road. I remember hanging out with Mary Faulkner and also falling in love. I ran into Sara and Andy Headworth. At some point, a bunch of us went to the Sprinkles ATM and had cupcakes. Good fun.

Clothing memory: On the first day of the conference, I wore a white dress and had lipstick on my teeth.

Orlando 2014.

We’ve reached the denouement. If I’m honest, the conference wasn’t all that great. I had a very drunk HR executive try to hug me without proper control of his motor skills. The story doesn’t end well. His PR team later apologized to me for his behavior. Sometimes you outgrow the things you love.

Clothing memory: I wore a Michael Kors dress, and Jennifer McClure taught me how to pose like a sorority girl.

Las Vegas 2015.

I decided not to attend SHRM, but I had meetings and client obligations. A bunch of old-school HR blogger friends managed to have a nice reunion at The Chandelier Bar at the Cosmopolitan Hotel. We saw a woman descend a staircase while not wearing any underwear. Not sure if she worked in HR. My friend Fishdogs ordered Sazeracs for everybody. I tried to connect with my friend Matt Kaiser who lives in Singapore. We never connect. Every year. Drives me crazy.

Clothing memory: I wore a blue dress, white sweater, and flats. Sometimes dressing up is fun.

Those are my best SHRM memories. While I’ll miss everybody at the 2016 conference, I’m going to the beach and spending time at home with my family. Hope you get lots of photos, and make good choices!


  1. Atlanta. That party was shocking and likely ended the career of several HR leaders. Would have ended even more had snapchat been a thing.

    I watched people covered in sweat get mugged for their cell phone walking from hotel to convention center.

    I’ve never been back, to shrm or Atlanta after that conference.

    • It was something. I’m still oddly proud of it. We worked collaboratively and operated like a highly functional team. It was a high point in my employment experience.

  2. Like you, this is the first SHRM annual I’ve missed in a long time — since 2005. I’ll miss the great people in the blogger’s lounge, but not much more.

    What I remember about SHRM 2008 in Chicago was that I met you for the first time in the press room there. You were getting introduced to everyone and I said hello. You seemed shy and a bit overwhelmed by it all. My, how things have changed!

  3. Was the Atlanta party you speak of the tweet up one at Der Biergarten? If so, I may have photos from that one.

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