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What do you do if you work in HR, but you’re miserable? That’s a question I answer multiple times every week. 

While I’m not the VP of HR for America’s HR professionals, it sometimes feels that way. Many of you are discontented, sorrowful and suffering. You’re under-appreciated and exhausted. And I wonder — if you feel this way, how do your employees feel? Work sucks for you. How can you make it better for yourself and your colleagues? 

Well, I think the key to reinvigorating your career is to redefine the paradigm of HR and do human resources for yourself.

The first new pillar of HR is embracing a healthy dose of risk-taking. A strong HR department encourages entrepreneurship and innovation while managing risk. It’s not about “design thinking” or “risk-based thinking” — although those are fine buzzwords — but it’s as simple as giving yourself and your colleagues the room to try new things and make mistakes. And the first principle of being an entrepreneur and an innovator is simple: you have to try.

It’s curious how HR leaders are often students of high-performing cultures but still shy away from new ideas in their organizations. These are HR professionals who idolize daring executives but can’t work the “courage muscle” and take a risk. 

Believe it or not, personal rejection is good for the creative soul. I’m not saying you should get turned down once a day, but you’re not trying hard enough — for yourself and your company — if you don’t hear the word “no” at least once a week.

If you live and breathe, you learn. That’s why the second pillar of great HR is to create a department that’s obsessed with continuous learning. I’m not referring to programmatic activities that can be documented, measured, tested and incorporated into an employee record management system; however, those are important objectives for some jobs. I’m talking about the learning that comes from being curious, pursuing new ideas to their conclusions, and trying something new and failing.

So we’re back to the first principle. If you champion and promote risk-taking within HR, you’re modeling a culture of learning for your company. And if you’re learning while working in HR, you won’t be miserable.

The third pillar is that the modern HR department must be community managers. It means we oversee the terms and conditions in which people interact with one another. We must create a climate of goodwill and support, and we should strive to overcome biases and prejudices across the enterprise. 

Community managers, unlike HR managers, don’t tolerate racism, sexism, ageism, ableism, xenophobia or indecent language. They’re like the idyllic version of umpires and will call balls and strikes without bias. And they’ll support members of the group who feel disparaged, defamed, or depreciated.

But to be community managers, HR must be the change we wish to see in the world. You can’t tolerate leaders who are sarcastic, egotistic, hostile, anti-worker, anti-ACA, anti-gay, or even anti-immigration. And it means taking a stand and fighting for your community when your common values are compromised. The good news is that if you defend your community, they’ll have your back when you’re on the ropes. And that’s how you fix work as a whole, by realizing you’re all in it together.

The fourth pillar of HR is all about the money. We must become compensation stewards and manage the salary practices that go up and down the ladder of power. Unfortunately, many HR professionals don’t make a ton of money, and, on top of it, they don’t have access to discussions where decisions are made about salaries, merit pools, and bonuses. That sucks and is definitely hard on the heart.

All is not lost, though. You can work on your education, get promoted, and develop your executive influence skills to get into the mix and share your thoughts and affect change. This is a long-term play, but use your career and proximity to power to fix this system. Do it for yourself, and you’ll fix it for others.

Finally, HR could change the nature of work by being guardians of the overall employee experience. That means putting our well-being first — not as martyrs, but as people with complex lives and families and hobbies and interests — and creating boundaries between work and life.

Just to clarify, there’s a difference between balance and boundaries. Work-life balance is the lie companies tell you so you’ll take your laptop home with you and multi-task after you feed the kids dinner and turn on the TV. Boundaries are lines you draw so that your family time after dinner isn’t compromised by work.

Guard your time — have a healthy private life full of movement and joy and laughter and love — and you’ll fix work by prioritizing what’s important and keeping your career in perspective. 

So, here’s my advice for HR professionals: take a few more risks, focus on learning something new, be a community manager, be a steward of fair compensation practices, and invest in your well-being. If you did those five things in 2019, you’d fix work for yourself and your entire company. And people might love HR, again, including you.

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To be HR, you have to do HR for yourself.

I will always believe in this principle. It’s so core and critical to my life’s philosophy that, when I wasn’t practicing the programs and policies of HR in my daily experience, I left my job.

My principle doesn’t just apply to individual practitioners and leaders. It applies to recruiters, sourcers, vendors, and technologists. If you’re not practicing the best principles of human resources in your own life and company, you have no business being in the business of HR.

The business of human resources if five-fold: we encourage entrepreneurship and innovation while managing risk; we champion and promote continuous learning for the enterprise; we are community managers, which means we oversee the terms and conditions in which people interact with one another; we are compensation stewards and manage the practices that go up and down the ladder of power; and we are wellbeing agents who are guardians of the overall employee experience.

That’s your new paradigm for HR, by the way, and, while it’s not revolutionary, it starts with making sure that you do HR for you.

• If you can’t take risks at work or feel like you’re stuck in a dead-end job with little opportunity for growth, you’re not doing HR. You’re wasting your days and the time of other employees around you.

• If you work in a disrespectful environment where pay equity is a joke and prestige is hoarded at the top — and you’ve tried and failed to make a difference — I’m sorry, but you’re failing in HR.

• And imagine how your employees feel if you are depleted, exhausted or financially insecure.

Do you want to be an HR professional? Do you want to sell HR technology? You must do HR for yourself, your team, and the employees around you.

There is no other way.

*Tomorrow I’ll write about what to do if you’re not doing HR for yourself.

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If you work in HR and have a Twitter or Facebook account, stop what you’re doing and thank John Jorgensen. He’s the godfather of the modern day HR movement, an early adopter, and someone who deserves your admiration and recognition.

John was an HR director before the Great Recession. Over the past ten years, he’s weathered the storm by doubling down on his personal development and leveraging his role as a SHRM volunteer to push a new generation of human resources professionals to embrace social media and connectivity.

Long story short, HR professionals used to hate being on social media. They were hostile to connecting with one another, they made fun of early adopters, and they were hesitant to develop personal brands. John was like — Knock it off. This technology is going to change the world. If I can see the promise, you can come around.

John was also instrumental in the development of my speaking career. While the world saw me as a snotty blogger, John treated me like a true professional. He invited me to participate in ILSHRM activities and used his reputation to clear a path for me at SHRM National.

I can’t say enough nice things about John Jorgensen, and, because today is the opening day of SHRM18, it’s also John Jorgensen Day. Activities include being kind to John, thanking him for his volunteerism, and offering to buy him a drink or dinner if you’re in Oakbrook Terrace, IL.

John Jorgensen makes HR better, and he helped make connecting with other HR professionals easier. He’s not the kind of guy who toots his own horn, but he’s an essential part of the story behind the transformation of human resources.

I love and appreciate what John has done for our community, and I hope you do, too.

H A P P Y J O H N J O R G E N S E N D A Y

Have a great conference, John!

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“Let’s empower men!” said no one ever. It’s 2018 and we’re still struggling with equality and other social stigmas that come from centuries of brainwashing. But if men are so great, why are they vulnerable to depression and anxiety? Why are we glorifying aggression as something innate to males, and why aren’t we doing anything to change it? Today’s guest is Jake Stika, a ‘Next Generation Man’ who wants to rethink what masculinity means and how we can put an end to toxicity.

  • Who is Jake Stika and how is Next Gen Men fixing work? Jake Stika is the Co-Founder and Executive Director of this nonprofit organization that is engaging, educating, and empowering men and boys about gender in schools, communities, and workplaces. He has earned recognition from Ashoka, the British Council, the Canadian Centre for Diversity and Inclusion, and has spoken as part of the Canadian delegation at the United Nations.
  • Jake believes that men can do better, but not under the pretense that men are inherently bad. He thinks there’s room for men to improve on how they think, behave, and contribute to what is socially and culturally perceived as masculine. It’s also imperative that the rest of us change the way we think and act to help support them.
  • Think about how YOU perceive masculinity. Unless you’re exceptionally progressive, you’re probably part of a culture that has a certain idea of what ‘real men’ ought to be. Males are tough, strong, and able to do everything by themselves. Boys don’t cry. They should “man up.” But it’s these unreasonable expectations that set them up for failure.
  • Even the statistics back this up. As a rule, men are incarcerated more often, end up homeless, and are more susceptible to violence. Clearly, something is wrong with the way we raise and treat our males, and in the expectations that we hold for them.
  • How does such backward, medieval thinking even exist today? Jake blames it on all the little nudges boys get exposed to throughout their lives. Males have adapted this toxic mindset from years of conditioning, not just from the other men in their lives, but from women as well. It’s a difficult mindset to break for all of us.
  • Jake was no stranger to this toxicity. He recounts his own experience growing up. Boys who cannot comply with this social standard end up broken. And these broken boys grow up as broken men. Then they enter the community and end up contributing to the noxious cycle.

It won’t be an easy fix. We all have to contribute to rehabilitating our men so they can become better. In doing so, we are raising men who become champions of empowering all genders to thrive in society. Just as it has taken years to ‘break’ these boys, it will take years to build them back up again. We have to stop isolating men by making them live in accordance with the accepted singularity of masculinity. Instead, we should encourage and embrace their “masculinities.”

The DIY HR Handbook

Wouldn’t you love to get your hands on Laurie’s no-holds-barred, honest DIY HR Handbook for employees and pros alike? Download it for free!

Jake Stika

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Next Gen Men Website

Next Gen Men Twitter

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I just finished an advance reader copy of, “Can You Hear Me: How to Connect with People in a Virtual World.” It’s written by Dr. Nick Morgan of Public Words, a friend and mentor who never steers me wrong.

Dr. Morgan is an expert on communication and body language, and, in this new book, he tackles the 21st-century challenges of communicating feelings and emotions on mobile and electronic devices.

Why does email suck so much? Why don’t people understand what I’m trying to say? Why does my Mom feel like she needs a LinkedIn account?

What’s The Book About?

The book highlights five fundamental problems with virtual communication at work and in life — from lack of feedback, our societal shortage of empathy, loss of control, limited emotional bandwidth, the trouble with connection and commitment — and offers evidence-based solutions to help us communicate more effectively.

Grounded in research and neuroscience, Dr. Morgan challenges us to know better and do better. He wants us to communicate more intentionally. Use language to check in with our colleagues and friends to ask how they feel. And, instead of racking up friends and followers, go slower in establishing common ground and trust to build meaningful and lasting relationships.

How Can This Book Help Me?

I’m a fast thinker and an aggressive texter. My personality is loud and bombastic. And, boy, I’m a terrible virtual communicator. I found myself taking notes throughout the book. Without the benefit of my smiley face or sweet voice, I now understand why some people may think that I’m more angry or cynical than I am online.

Dr. Morgan offers multiple suggestions in the book to optimize the way we communicate online. He even suggests we think about why we’re online in the first place. Beyond email etiquette, this book offers practical and timely ways to enhance our personal and professional connections in the virtual world.

Where Can I Buy This Book?

You can pre-order a copy of “Can You Hear Me Now” on Amazon, or head over to Dr. Morgan’s website to learn more about the book. If you’re a leader who manages remote teams — or a human being who wants to bridge the digital divide and have more meaningful relationships — this book is a must read for you and your colleagues. I can’t recommend it enough.

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Remember when things were “things” in the HR tech industry?

Wish I took notes, but there have been technology solutions for just about every trendy HR thing under the sun.

Not sure I have the order correct, but, back in the day, social media was a thing. Then it was social media marketing. Then it was recruitment marketing, followed by big data. Then employee engagement, wellness, analytics, happiness, culture, and gratitude. Then we moved on to AI and chatbots, with some candidate experience and customer success.

A few months ago, it was #MeToo, meditation, blockchain, and bias. We had a moment where equal pay was a thing, but like all things related to women and protected minorities, it faded fast. And some people were talking tech stack, onboarding, and D&I all in one sentence.

But a quick scan of my LinkedIn feed shows that we’re in a lull. There’s nothing new. It’s all of those things plus a shortened workweek and self-care.

So, I spent some time in Las Vegas, last week, trying to make sense of things that are things. And here’s what I know: If things are truly important, they’ll get a line-item on a budget, and you’ll see them become part of your standard operating procedure.

What’s important? What things are things in HR and work? What deserves your attention?

Well, let’s start with Talent Acquisition. This is the stuff that helps you hire people. I think these things are things.

Recruitment Marketing
Applicant Tracking
Chatbots
Onboarding
Analytics
Engagement
Employment Branding
Sourcing
CRM
Assessment
Screening/Background Checking
Reference Checking/Validation

What am I missing? And what’s trash?

Now, let’s move on to Talent Management. This is how you manage the people you’ve hired. Here’s my list of things that are things and not just fads. What else should go on there?

Compensation Planning
Performance Management
Succession
Internal Mobility
Coaching and Mentoring
Leadership Development
Learning Platforms
LMS
Wikis
Micro-learning
Rewards & Recognition
Feedback
Reviews
Career Planning
Assessments

Whew, that’s a lot of things to be things. I’m not sure micro-learning is a thing, even though it’s a multi-million dollar industry. Can you really learn anything in five minutes? “Oh, but these Gen Z kids like video.” Whatever, man. TBD.

Then there are things in Workforce Management, which is how you manage your people once they have the job. These things are things, I think. Although maybe I’m wrong.

Core HR Platforms
Time & Attendance
Payroll
Benefits
Employee Leave & Absence Management
Employee Communications
Organization Chart Software (not PowerPoint)
EAP
Employee Record Management
Document Flow
Intranet/Chats
Team Collaboration Tools
Task Management Tools
Workforce Planning
Job Description Compliance Software
Global Employee Management/VISA
Relocation
Offboarding
Employee Surveys
Alumni Association Platforms
Corporate Surveillance/Espionage
Employee Activity Monitoring
Employee Health Monitoring
Wellness Programs
Wellbeing Monitoring
Threat Assessments

The part of the industry focused on employee surveillance fascinates me. They can predict suicide attempts as well as whether you’re leaking information to a competitor. And, oh yeah, they can predict when you’ll resign. Crazy stuff.

As I look at this list of things, I’m shocked by how it takes a village — and a multi-million dollar budget — to make sure you’re managing your people. I’m not sure how small businesses get started, how they grow, and how they’re not eventually bankrupted by all of this tech.

I wonder what you think about this list. What does it take to do HR? Do you need these technology solutions to manage and lead people? What can stay, what can go? What’s a real thing? What’s a fad?

I’d love your thoughts.

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A lot of my girlfriends are fond of saying, “God, grant me the confidence of a middle-aged white man.”

It always makes me laugh out loud. I think it comes from this article on Medium, which is also funny to me.

It’s the belief that your hardship is harder than someone else’s misfortune. It’s the faith in your point of view when facts suggest otherwise. It’s the confidence that your life story is inspirational when it’s just ordinary.

I love the prayer. Luckily, I have the confidence of a middle-aged white man. Grandiosity and self-exaggeration come naturally to me. But sometimes I have doubts, and the prayer serves me well when my competitors — almost all of them middle-aged white men who would never think of me as a contender — call me out for my doubt, apprehension, and cynicism.

These dudes read my blog or listen to my podcast and criticise my tone, style, and delivery. They question my expertise and the right to have an opinion. And they think I’m too angry, vulgar or simple to understand my industry.

I think these competitors like me, actually. It’s like a kindergarten crush turned crusty with sun damage, failed marriages and receding hairlines.

Anyway, the confidence prayer serves me well when my rivals hit back and try to tell me that what I’m doing is wrong or isn’t working. I ask God (the inner voice in my head) for confidence, and I keep going. And that’s what I want for you, too.

You should use the confidence prayer if you’re a woman, a protected minority, or even if you’re a middle-aged white guy. Embrace the audacity of a mediocre white man because you’re going to need that confidence to win whatever battle you face.

Somewhere, sometime, someone will accuse you of being an impostor. You’ll either flop and prove them right, or demonstrate how they’re wrong. It’s just a choice, and mediocre middle-aged white men know this. So, make the correct decision and open some doors for yourself.

But, if you want to be better than mediocre middle-aged white men, do yourself a favor and try to win your opponents over as friends and push them to be better versions of themselves. You don’t want to enter a stalemate of mediocrity, and you only get better when you have real rivals.

Know better, do better, help other people be better. That’s the real prayer of winners.

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Would it surprise you if we said that a large number of female leaders in America were Girl Scouts? Sylvia is a Rocket Scientist, STEM Leader, and Tech Founder, and she’s also the Girl Scouts of America’s CEO. Join Laurie and Sylvia as they unravel the GSUSA’s vital role in the development of next-gen leaders and how they sustain their programs.

Dynamic leadership programs, time-tested methods, and supportive learning environments: this is what separates the GSUSA from other institutions. And how can we ever forget their famous cookies? Amazing products aside, do you know what their finest contribution to society is? It’s their active role in developing the next generation of leaders, innovators and impact makers. But how do they do it?

  • The industrial age is almost over. Job opportunities have become reliant on technology. But in our attempt to move forward and develop new technology, today’s workforce is struggling to keep up with the changes. Very few women are in the technology industry’s talent pipeline and this often diminishes the female perspective in the workforce equation.
  • So how can the GSUSA and other institutions impact the current state of the workforce? They invest in building core leadership skills in young girls. This enables them to become functional key members in their organizations. They cultivate entrepreneurial skills from selling cookies, and as simple as it sounds, the effect is profound. They also empower girls to be action takers and decision makers in a supportive environment. They even have a STEM program that develops their skill and confidence to take part in the science and technology industries.
  • With that said, would it be much of a surprise to know that Sylvia was once a girl scout too?! Sylvia traces the development of her leadership skills back to when she was reciting the Girl Scout pledge. GSUSA was the type of environment that nurtured her transformative ideas, drive, and compassion. Now she is as an esteemed entrepreneur, rocket scientist, and thought leader.
  • As the CEO of the Girl Scouts of America, Sylvia has done a lot to improve existing programs. She’s a staunch supporter of implementing STEM programs to spark the girls’ curiosity. She believed that there was a way to make the learning experience fun and relevant. They’ve even released new badges reflecting the latest programs. Needless to say, Sylvia is very progressive and optimistic that it will improve in the future.
  • How can their positive impact be measured? What is the evidence that they are successful in their pursuit of excellence? The Girl Scouts Bronze, Silver, and Gold Awards are granted to girls who have developed potentially world-changing projects with promising long-term positive effects in their respective communities.

We hope you have learned how these institutions play a crucial part in improving the work cycle. It’s not just about Thin Mints and Samoas. The bottom line is that empowering women will radically change the workforce AND the world.

The DIY HR Handbook

Wouldn’t you love to get your hands on Laurie’s no-holds-barred, honest DIY HR Handbook for employees and pros alike? Download it for free!

Sylvia Acevedo

Website

Girl Scouts of America

LinkedIn

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Path to the Stars

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There’s a discussion happening with some of my fellow public speakers. We want to know the Instagram secrets. Most of us are under 10,000 followers and can’t crack 200 likes. People “like” us, but our stories are only watched by about 10% of our audience.

People in my social scene want to know — Is our audience throttled? How can we increase our Instagram numbers? How do we earn more likes and follows without being obnoxious? Does advertising make a difference? What are the Instagram secrets?

I’ve done some digging, watched a few webinars, and tried to shake things up on my account. Here’s the number one secret for more Instagram followers: be young and pretty. The second Instagram secret: have an exciting life. The third Instagram secret: you’re going to have to spend more than $50 on an advertising campaign to make a difference. Those aren’t shocking Instagram secrets, are they?

Want more Instagram followers? Helps not to be a middle-aged former HR lady with a confusing brand proposition. When people follow me, I’ve learned they have a ton of questions. She travels for work? That’s great, so does my mom. And she’s not even going anywhere fun. Does she like cats? Her cats don’t seem to be famous. Is she a narcissist? You bet, no thanks, pass.

Want more likes and follows? It’s reverse psychology, and you can’t get more likes and follows if you want them. The “look at me look at me look at me look at me look at me look at me look at me look at me look at me look at me look at me look at me look at me look at me” philosophy is a repellent. Unless you’re asking to be looked at ironically, which is still very sad but people might give you a pity-like and pity-follow.

 

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Super lucky to work with Kathy on a makeup-free portrait and headshot progression series. Honestly, I rolled out of bed and was treated to a fabulous experience. Love @kathyhoward @winkhairandmakeup and can’t recommend them enough. #Repost @kathyhoward with @get_repost ・・・ Yesterday was a great day✨ Began with this fun beauty Portrait Session… ‘Third time’s a charm’ is evidently truth, as this was the third time I’ve had the privilege to photograph this amazing #girlboss , magic was definitely created✨ — Hair & Makeup by Kristi @winkhairandmakeup . . . #kathyhowardportrait #behindthescene #portraits #portraitphotography #raleighnc #raleighphotographer #ncphotographer #raleighheadshots #raleighpersonalbranding #personalbranding #magazinestyleportraits #thisis43 #imtoosexyformycat

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Want to grow your engagement numbers and unlock the secrets of Instagram with 10,000 followers? Hire an agency. Seriously. That’s what all of those other IG-famous people have done. While everyone can ask to be verified, an agency-driven request moves mountains.

As middle-aged public speakers and authors who haven’t cracked the best sellers list from The New York Times, it’s tough to play a young person’s game unless you have young people on your staff. Thankfully, Instagram secrets are easy to grasp. You’ve got two options: throw a bunch of money at it, or ignore it and be the most authentic version of yourself possible while pretending that you don’t care about likes and follows.

So, I’m going to try “not caring.” I dropped off a thread about how to increase my Instagram audience. Imma be my most authentic self. And my most authentic self is a 43-year-old woman who loves looking at travel photos, cats and cool hairstyles on the internet. It’s a pretty ordinary existence with moments of fun experiences on the job.

For the 10% of my audience who sees it and cares, that’s great. I appreciate you. And I love your average, ordinary life back.

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Hello, everybody, I’m home from Las Vegas and in “hurricane prep” mode. I’m snacking and doing laundry. I’ll be making book recommendations on Twitter, later today, so be sure to follow me for round the clock coverage of my ordinary life.

I’m also reflecting on my whirlwind trip to Las Vegas. By the time the conference got into high gear, I was packed and headed for the airport. However, I did see a ton of old friends and colleagues. I briefly walked the expo floor as they were setting up, and I heard LAURIE LAURIE LAURIE LAURIE LAURIE LAURIE as I sauntered down the aisles. Then I attended a few parties and also heard LAURIE LAURIE LAURIE LAURIE LAURIE LAURIE.

People weren’t chanting for me. They were trying to grab my attention, say hello, and share stories about their lives. And I don’t mind bumping into my colleagues except so many people are totally fucking miserable, right now. Men and women with high-level roles in big corporations are exhausted and ready to head to the nearest competitor in 2019 once their bonuses are paid out.

“Don’t you work for one of the best companies in America?” I asked a friend.

“Yeah, it’s great how they shove it down your throat all day long.”

Yowza, work is messy. Work can suck for everybody including people who stand on stage and talk about creating healthy work environments and human-centric employee experiences. So, because I’m a burgeoning writer, I jot down notes and ideas. Here are some of the things I wrote on my iPhone over the past few days:

“Don’t worry about your job, worry about your soul.”
“Artificial intelligence isn’t fact, it isn’t an opinion, it’s a lie we tell ourselves because we don’t have real answers, yet.”
“You matter. Your job only matters because you matter. You would matter without your job.”
“Chatbots are a step backward. It’s wrong to sell depersonalization as personalization.”
“What if we could reboot our lives like we reboot our laptops?”
“Does Vegas make you lose your mind?”
“HR EX is the barometer for EX at a company.”

I’m not Bob Woodward, but lots of people in my field are exhausted. If the best and brightest individuals in the field of human resources can’t fix their own work experiences, how can they fix work for you? The answer is that they can’t. Nobody can fix your work experience except you. And you’ll do it by prioritizing your values and putting yourself first.

Just wish I could get my colleagues to see it that way, too.

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