Hot Chocolate Made With Milk !!

A few weekends ago an amazing person passed away !!  She influenced more people than she ever knew and she never would have taken credit for any of it.  Did you see her passing in the press/social media?  No, I’m sure you didn’t.

You see, it was my Aunt Elaine.

After 81 phenomenal years, Aunt Elaine moved onto the next stage of life where I’m sure she was welcomed with open arms !!  I was at the SHRM Leadership Conference when her funeral services were held and I was disappointed to not be there for my extended family and the myriad of people who came to show their respects and shine as an example of who she touched.

You see, my brother and I were incredibly blessed when we were very young.  Our Dad, a Vietnam Vet, passed away in 1968 after losing a battle with Hodgkin’s Disease cancer.  We were 4 and 2 at the time.  Living in the mighty metropolis of Luckey, Ohio (yes, it is a town) would have been difficult for my Mom to raise two young boys except for our incredibly tight knit family.  Most days we were with my Grandma and Grandpa as Mom went to work.  However, we were often at Aunt Elaine’s , a mere mile and a half away as well.

I fondly remember spending the night and waking up before dawn with my cousins to go out and work in the barn doing chores to care for the farm animals.  It was hard work for a young boy, but every aspect of it was spectacular !!  The warmth, the smell, the sounds – all of it permeated every inch of you and made you feel connected to the life of being a farmer.

After chores, we would all bounce back into my Aunt and Uncle’s simple farm home to a table overflowing with food !!  Farm fresh eggs which we had just gathered, bacon from the farm, toast from homemade bread and of course – hot chocolate made with milk !!  The chance to have breakfast, or any meal, at my Aunt’s house was an incredible treat.  We thought this was “normal” for when we were at the farm and revelled in it !!

Why does this all matter ??

You see, we all leave a legacy in our lives whether we choose to or not.  My Aunt Elaine touched countless numbers of people with her laughter, her charity, her positive glow and outlook on life and her love for family.

In HR we work around people every day and we have the chance to be a positive imprint on their lives.  We often think that by focusing on the “business” of what we do is more important than caring for others as people.  Just remember – that leaves an imprint as well !!

So, this week, what can you do to be that simple mug of hot chocolate?  Be intentional and value all of those whose lives you touch !!  It will matter eternally !!

Together as one !!

This past weekend I had the opportunity to attend the SHRM Leadership Conference. It is a true favorite for me because it is made up of fellow HR volunteers from all over the United States !!  I also had the chance to meet some great people from SHRM India !!

What continues to amaze me at these intentional gatherings is that people still tend to run in the groups of people that they know.  People stick within their State more than cross boundaries to meet others even though we are all in the same profession and we also have the commonality of volunteering !!

Fortunately, I have always believed in expanding boundaries.  I love connecting with new people wherever I go and SHRMLead was a great opportunity to “reach across the aisle” and make this happen.

When I did this, along with my compatriot John Friend from North Dakota, incredible things began to happen !!  People began to recognize the great things that bring us together.  We have a passion for HR, people and seeing the profession strengthen and grow now and into the future.  We also want to see it be relevant and necessary in all businesses and industries.

However, this won’t happen unless we start to realize that we are all in this together !!

If we want HR to be better – we need to be together !!

If we want SHRM to be better – we need to be together !!

If we truly want to be global – we need to be together !!

The only thing that keeps us from doing it is that we need more folks to reach out and be willing to connect with each other.  We grow stronger as a whole when we incorporate the phenomenal ideas, approaches, strengths and diversity of our geography and our opportunities we face !!

By the end of the week I had been meeting and hanging out with people from Ohio (gimme since it’s where I’m from), North Dakota, Michigan, Iowa, Minnesota, Nevada, Hawaii, Illinois, New York, California, New Hampshire, South Dakota, Vermont, Virginia, Texas, Florida, Georgia, Montana, New Jersey, Nebraska, Wisconsin, Washington, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Arizona, Arkansas, Tennessee, Pennsylvania, Indiana, Maryland, Missouri, and India !!

These weren’t just chance meetings or passing each other in the halls.  We spent time together advocating on Capitol Hill, sharing ideas in breakout sessions, sharing meals and the occasional adult beverage, and laughing about the incredible field of HR !!

I’ve written that one of my favorite groups of all time is U2 and their song “One” captures it all – “We’re one, but we’re not the same.  We get to carry each other – Carry each other”

This week reach out.  Make that intentional connection with other HR people. Join me in starting to bring us together.  It’s going to happen !!  And I’d love it if you were part of us . . . together !!

 

Do Something About It !!

This coming week I get to attend the SHRM Leadership Conference in Washington, D.C.  The gathering is for Regional, State and Local Chapter leaders.  We get together to share what’s great and also give input on how we’d like to see things improve.

Before going further, let me be clear on my stance on SHRM . . .

I’m a fan !!

I know that things can be improved.  However, I would state that we could make that argument not only about our various organizations, but about our profession as a whole as well.

I didn’t used to have this perspective and I was once far from being a “fan.”  Let me share a story about someone who was EXTREMELY intentional with me in the past . . .

I have been facilitating a monthly HR Roundtable in Cincinnati for the past 12 years.  I never would have made it this far if it wasn’t for one fateful meeting.  We had another full house and the session went very well.  At the end of the meeting, I was complaining about our local SHRM chapter and pontificating that the Roundtable was “so much better” than what they had to offer.  A person heard this and she literally pinned me to the wall when she did.

She said, “I’m tired of you bashing our chapter.  If it’s so bad do something about it !!  Don’t just sit here making comments.  If you want it to change, then step up and get involved.”  Now, you have to understand that this great person is about 5 ft. 2 in. tall and I’m 6 ft. 5 in. tall.  It was quite the site.

This wasn’t some passionate SHRM zealot.  It was a person who cared about the chapter and didn’t like people making snarky comments about it as if they were film critics who never saw the movie.

I took her words to heart.  I jumped in with both feet !!  Instead of easing into a volunteer capacity, I ran for Vice-President of the chapter.  I won (which surprised me) and that lead to beint the Chapter President.  During my tenure, our chapter won the Pinnacle Award from SHRM at the same conference I’m attending this week.  I went on to be involved at the State level and lead a phenomenal team two years ago for the Ohio HR Conference with our HR Rocks theme !!  We had the most successful conference to date.  Could have stopped there, but then took on the role of State Director for Ohio SHRM – which is where I am . . . for now.

Please forgive my personal SHRM history.  The point is that because someone stepped out and confronted me to take action, I have had incredible fortune and success.  I also have made lifelong friends and have done a small part in trying to make SHRM and HR better.

So, this week I am geeked to see friends, make new connections and see what else I can do to make SHRM even better.  I hope that this week you can do the same in your corner of the HR universe.

It’s time to quit wishing things were better.  Do something about it !!

Encourage and Lift Up !!

You may, or may not, know this but I am EXTREMELY passionate about most areas of my life !!  I was reminded of this recently when I read a blog post from a friend who asked people to truly be who they are – both in person and on-line.  I didn’t see that as being critical, but as being encouraging.

In HR I get the opportunity to be around a myriad of people who are going through a myriad of things all the time !!  Too often, when I encounter them, it starts our negatively.  I don’t mean that they are negative people.  Just the contrary, but we live in a world where “negative” is our 1st line filter.

I love it when people cloud this fact and say, “I’m just being realistic !!”  No, you’re being negative and justifying your realism.  There are difficult things all around us.  We tend to have the mindset that NO ONE can be going through the challenges that we are facing.

This isn’t a post about “downer truth or dare” because that gets ugly quick !!  There are so many people in HR and in the workplace who need to be encouraged.  I’m not talking about recognition (although that is usually encouraging).  I’m talking about noticing the little things around you in the lives of others and lifting them up – on purpose !!

Most people are hesitant to encourage others.  There’s the fear of a “hidden agenda,” or that people just are nice to get something from you.  (Remember, people start from a negative filter . . .)

Also, people want others to make the first move.  We are much more likely to reciprocate encouragement if it’s genuinely given first.  Well, I’d like to “encourage” you to be that first person who steps out on a regular basis to lift others up wherever you are.

I’m not talking about a formal program with a goal of so many positive comments a day.  I’m talking about turning off your negative tendencies and replacing them with positive ones.  It may seem tough at first, and people may even mock you for being different.  But, isn’t that cool?  Your efforts could be the one difference that someone needs just at the time you encourage them.

Don’t pass this up !!  It’s time for you to unleash your passion !!  HR has been lacking this and it can only improve when YOU join in !!

Let me start . . .

Thanks for being in HR !!  I know people are tough – but remember – you’re a person too !!  I’m glad that I get to know, learn and grow from people like you.  Continue to know that you’re making a difference !!  You truly are !!

One Small Step . . .

This weekend one of my heroes passed away – Neil Armstrong.  Maybe because he was a farm boy from Northwest Ohio, or because he was proud to be “nerdy,” or because he was humble and genuine.

I vividly remember being in my Grandfather’s house in tiny Luckey, Ohio with my aunts, uncles and cousins crowded around the TV as Walter Cronkite reported the landing of Apollo 11 on the moon.  When Armstrong actually came out onto the ladder and began moving toward the surface of the moon, there was awe and silence in the house.  After he uttered his immortal words and stepped onto the moon, my Grandfather – the epitome of the hard working farmer – just kept saying, ” I’ll be damned.  I’ll be damned.”  The general disbelief of what we all just saw was burnt into our lives forever.

If you’ve ever seen interviews with Armstrong after this life- changing event, he remained unassuming, thoughtful and curious.  He wanted to see people continue to stretch boundaries, just as he had.  The Armstrongs live about 30 minutes from my current house just outside Cincinnati.  So, this legend, was living a regular life and that is a great example !!

When he said “One small step,” he inspired a nation.  It makes you think.  What could I do if I took one small step?  So often, in our lives, and especially at work, we think that change has to occur in giant chunks, or earth-shattering movements.  In reality, it only takes those small, incremental steps.

What are some steps you could take in HR to be this type of “explorer”?  Could you make sure to say “Hi” to ALL of your employees (and not just the ones you’re comfortable with)?  Could you challenge something that needs to be corrected, but no one will step forward?  Would you join a local HR chapter, go to a regional or State Conference to meet other HR folks?

The questions and efforts are all within our reach.  This week, find your Neil Armstrong moment and take one small step forward in some area of your life.  Who knows – it might end up being something that is a “giant leap for all mankind” !!

Image courtesy of NASA

Savor Every Moment !!

I am digging that the Olympics are on !!  I’ve loved watching both the Summer and Winter Games since 1972.  The thing that is unfortunate, to me, this year is that people on Social Media are raking NBC over the coals because our “instant society” has results before the athlete even completes an event.

On top of that, people are scathing about how the network is slower than we can post, blog or tweet.  In doing this, I think they take away the performance of the athletes, the compelling human drama and the visual appeal of watching the event unfold.  I never look for the results, and if I happen to see one, I still watch the event with anticipation.

You may say this is naive or old fashioned, but I think it calls to mind an imbalance in life that social media has afforded us.  Let me share two quick stories . . .

On Friday, I went to the retirement dinner of my 70 year old Dad.  He had worked for the Mid-Ohio Energy Cooperative as the Accountant. His career for the last 22 years was for a small company in a rural town in Ohio.  It was spectacular !!  They told stories about my Dad and his “Donisms” which brought the room to tears with laughter.  When my Dad spoke, he got a bit choked up thanking the company for the ability to earn a good wage with benefits.  He pointed to his family and said, “Look how much you have provided for me so that I am blessed to have provided for my family.”  Amazing !!

Tonight we had a cookout with four close girls basketball families and their Coach (w/ family) one last time before the girls head to college.  We laughed, reminisced and enjoyed our company one last time as a tight knit group.  We vowed to meet every Christmas break and summer to make sure we stayed in touch as a group.  Phenomenal !!

When it comes to HR, we are tending to be more like the instant world of Social Media versus the picture above called “Holding a Piece of Time.”  We rush to immediate action and/or judgement without taking in all aspects of what is involved.  We think the “stories” that surround us honestly get in the way of our real jobs.

This week try something new !!  Savor the moments around you.  Take in everything and see that, more often than not, great things are happening.  You can still take in all of the events, enjoy the movement and come to great decisions.  In fact, your results will be spectacular.  Don’t rush . . . savor !!

 

Knowing Others . . . On Purpose !!

I’m about to disconnect for the next week as I head with my son and Troop 941 to Summer Camp.  It’s one of the best things I do each year !!  It allows me to take in nature, be around great kids/adults and meet others that I never would have known before !!

It made me think of something that has been happening more and more often.  I LOVE networking with folks !!  I have this huge capacity to try to connect with as many people as humanly possible.  That’s just how God wired me.

I do this a bit differently than I’ve seen others lately doing somethings I’d love to see change.  I wanted to encourage each of you who are kind enough to read this blog to try something when it comes to this “networking” thing . . . be intentional !!

I get a ton of Linked In requests each week.  It’s cool because, like I said, I love connecting with people.  However, most of the requests I get use the standard line from the platform.  It says that we’re “friends” even though we’ve never met, and there’s no reason given why someone wants to connect.  I find this intriguing !!

I always send a note giving a reason for someone to consider if they want to accept, if they want to connect, or why we should try to do this !!  I do this on purpose because if you’re willing to be a connection, then you need to know that you just entered into a relationship that will be fully intentional.

Valuing people and what they bring to relationships is missing these days.  Some people spend time “collecting” others to beef up their social media numbers thinking that volume gives them more credibility or a voice.  Odd.

Now, I’m connected to literally 1,000’s of people.  Here’s what’s different.  I do my best to reach out to folks and drop them a line, give them a surprise call, note what’s happening to them through Facebook, Twitter, Linked In etc.  These platforms can be used to truly connect people, but they are just a gateway.  The next step is up to you !!

So, I plan to keep connecting and meeting folks everywhere I can.  I hope that they want to reciprocate and be intentional as well.  When that happens, then you can see amazing things occur.  It also allows you to be sincere in making your connections link with others.

This week . . . let’s make “different” the norm.  Be intentional !!  You’ll love it !!

The Inner Sanctum !!

One observation I’ve had about HR professionals is that they have historically been very isolated both professionally and personally.  This has to be either by choice or by design within organizations.  This observation continues to be affirmed when I attend conferences of any size.  HR people seem astonished that others would intentionally like to be connected to them.

Something I’ve been trying at my work, and toying with in general is this philosophy – Model the behavior you expect in others.

To that end, I’d like to talk to you about the Inner Sanctum !! (cue scary theme music)  What I mean by this is that I have a tight knit group of HR professionals who make up my personal inner sanctum.   This isn’t a “Personal Board of Directors” as you may have seen in other blogs.  There is something more substantial to this group.   They have some incredible shared characteristics that I think are essential for this to work.  They are:

  • They all challenge me in some way !! – These are boundary stretching folks and I need that in order to not remain stagnate myself.
  • They are willing to be candid !! – They speak their minds openly both positively or critically. They aren’t afraid to address my blind spots.
  • They are consistent !! – Each of them is incredibly consistent while remaining creative and unpredictable. They each have strengths that I learn from.
  • They are all genuine !! – Something I cherish in others is to be “who you are.” These folks don’t have pretense and don’t support it in others.
  • They are all my friends !! – I mean that. We talk about all things in our lives. Families, work, faith, ups, downs, etc. All subjects are regularly discussed.

Without this group of people to gird me in what I do in HR and business, I would be less effective. It’s just a fact.  I think that having folks you can count on is a professional differentiator.  This isn’t networking or being in a clique.  It’s intentional, fascinating and exhilarating !!

This week step out.  Start looking at who would make up your Inner Sanctum and then pursue it.  If you choose to do this, you’ll see a marked difference in how HR looks, feels and acts !!  I hope you do it and let me know if you do !!