My Last Dance

Most of you know that I used to be a uniformed police officer in suburban Detroit.

During that time, I was no stranger to dancing, partying, and generally having a good time. Once when I was working midnights, I got off work at 7:00 am and went to a neighborhood bar with a group of fellow officers. I didn’t have to work again that night, so I didn’t leave that bar until 2:00 the next morning.

We drank, danced, sang from the stage unaccompanied (pre-karaoke), danced more, and generally had an epic good time. Friends came and went during the course of that 19 hours, but a few of us stayed the entire time and created a local legend.

But when Maren Hogan crooked her finger at me from the dance floor of a bar in Atlanta, on the second night of the annual SHRM conference I recently attended, I shook my head and stayed put on my bar stool. A short time after that, a lovely young woman who had been dancing approached me, leaned down, and gently asked, “are you alright?”

I guess I looked lonely sitting there on that bar stool alone, watching others dance, talking to no one.

I wasn’t lonely at all. I was at a massive HR conference, blogging, connecting, networking, and learning. I went to the bar and had one glass of wine and networked a little, and enjoyed watching others dance. But I didn’t stay long.

I needed to get back to my hotel and blog.

I’ve had plenty of opportunities to party and have a good time in my life, you see, and I have taken advantage of all of them. But blogging, and being a part of the HR Blogger Network,  is a new an exciting opportunity that I want to maximize as long as I am able. I am part of a group of professionals that is smart, insightful, encouraging, and helpful. To be a part of that group, and stay excited and energized, all I have to do is keep writing.

Networking and developing relationships face to face is a great thing, and I love to do that. I did plenty of it at the SHRM conference. That young woman at the bar who asked if I was okay?  We had a nice discussion after I told her I was fine, and now we’re connected on LinkedIn.

I would not have made that connection if I was on the dance floor. It’s hard to make a real connection while you are partying and dancing and yelling at the top of your lungs to be heard over the music. And you certainly can’t review your notes, or think about what you learned that day, or write your blog from there.

So I hope no one feels sorry for me – or thinks I’m snobbish – if I don’t join you on the dance floor, or stand up drinking with you at a crowded bar (I’m getting both knees replaced in early September, and they can’t handle to extra pressure), or if I skip the party all together and run back to my hotel.

I’m not missing a thing, because my computer and I have a brand new dance to do. I’m having a great time at this dance – and it may be my last one. I want to make the most of it.

 

 

 

 

A Personal Note For SHRM11 (Day Minus 1)

Just call me Marla Hooch.

Remember her from the 1992 movie A League Of Their Own?  Marla is a powerhouse baseball player, but is socially awkward and physically unattractive.  Even her name is supposed to be funny.

Marla’s character reaches a crossroads in the film when she is a little drunk after a night in a bar, and sings the classic torch song “It Had To Be You” to a gentleman she has met there. Her singing is horribly off key and her gestures overly dramatic and unintentionally comical. She looks and sounds, in a word, ridiculous.

But Marla doesn’t know or care how ridiculous she is, because she is singing with her whole heart and with love to her man. And he accepts her efforts with gratitude and adoration. 

As a blogger, sometimes I think I may look and sound like Marla Hooch to whatever readers I have. I don’t show up on blogrolls, and I doubt that I will ever be on anyone’s “read-this-blog” list. There is probably a large audience of people who are saying to themselves (and others), “Why does she do this? Doesn’t she know how ridiculous she looks?”

I blog for the same reason that Marla Hooch was singing to Nelson: deep, heartfelt emotion, and a desire to use that stage to connect and convey that emotion to the audience – even if that audience is only one person, and even if I don’t do it all that well.

I don’t expect you to love and adore me back (that could get kind of creepy ;-)), but I do thank you from the bottom of my heart if you have read today’s blog this far, because

I wandered around, and finally found
The somebody who could make me be true

It had to be you.

Back to SHRM tomorrow. Thanks again.


Enhanced by Zemanta

Anonymous Is A Four Letter Word

Sometimes the only comments I get on a particular blog post are spam comments, which I often find quite funny when I take the time to look at them. Spam or not, all comments on this blog have two things in common:  the name of the commenter and an email address. Your email is not published, but your name is, provided you are not caught in the deadly spam filter and not published at all.

In my opinion, that is the only way it should be.

My intense dislike of anonymous commenting goes back long before blogs and the web existed. Remember “Letters to the Editor“? Most newspapers wouldn’t accept them without a name and address, but occasionally a letter would be published as signed by “anonymous”. Then my tirade against wimps who don’t have the guts or decency to stand behind their own words would begin. It made me angry that someone would not want to be identified with their own comments, and angry that the media would allow  it.

The Web and it’s entire culture of concealment bugs me even more. People write entire blogs anonymously, as well as comment without identification.  What kind of conversationalist are you if you are communicating with a paper bag over your head?

There are people who have gone to prison or even died for their words and convictions, and to comment or converse unclaimed is a mockery of them, at least in my world.

So why do bloggers allow people to comment anonymously?  Is it to increase the numbers of comments? Help monetize the blog? Keep their mother from being identified? Whatever their reasons, I don’t like them.

Go ahead.  Comment and try to convince me I’m wrong.  Just leave your name.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Enhanced by Zemanta

We Have No Secrets – or do we?

I’ve spent the past 30 days trying to decide how to resume blogging after a long, unintended absence.  Being an open and straightforward person, I considered a highly personal “here’s what went wrong” post.  Since I am also an apologist, I was certainly going to include profuse offers of regret, and promise to never let it happen again.  Another consideration was to post as if I hadn’t been gone at all.  Or maybe just say “I’m back” and drop it.  What to do, what to do?

Finally, I consulted the best expert I know – my daughter Amy.  Being a professional writer and long-time blogger, she is highly qualified to advise me.  I know she has my back.

My daughter pointed me toward some resources, and advised me that there are a whole lot of blogs out there that are apologizing for not blogging. In fact, blogs that resume after extended absences generally follow one of the formats I’d already considered: explanation, apology, or acknowledgment only.  Good information, but not the kind of “do this” kick-in-the-butt that I was looking for.

Finally, while listening to one of my old albums, I made my decision.  I’ve been gone, and now I’m back.  I’m not going to explain, because Carly Simon told me not to. :-)

Enhanced by Zemanta

HRevolution – Rants and Raves

Mark Stelzner as Donald Trump - sort of

Back in March I did a post following a SHRM conference called Rants and Raves.  Since I have no desire to re-invent the wheel, and I find that the title is the hardest part of my blog to write,  I am going to take the easy way out and offer this  HRevolution version.  This time, though, the rants and raves are not mine – at least not until the end.  These are comments made directly to me by some of the attendees, and not based on anyone’s blog post or tweet.

RANTS

NOT ENOUGH TIME BETWEEN SESSIONS FOR DISCUSSIONS/NETWORKING/CONVERSATIONS – This was by far the most prevalent and consistent comment I received.  People did not want to miss the sessions, but they wanted time to start and continue substantive conversations.  The tweet-ups, with a party-like atmosphere, were good for meeting and greeting, but they wanted quieter time for serious stuff, too.  When asked, people were willing to attend a 2-day session in order to rectify this.

NOT ENOUGH SPACE – Several people thought that Catalyst Ranch, while fun and funky, was not large enough for the attendees to find spots outside of the sessions to talk or even break out into a smaller group.  A related comment was that there were just too many people, making the sessions a little too large for comfortable discussion.

GENERAL SESSION/TRACK GRIPES – Some people wanted more topics lead by working HR practitioners and directly relevant to daily HR functions.  Some wanted fewer sponsor/consultant/non-practitioner speakers and facilitators. While many of the people I spoke with felt some uneasiness with the sessions, they did not articulate their feelings or dissatisfaction as well in this area (unlike the time and space rants).

RAVES

EVENT PLANNING AND LOGISTICS – As a member of the planning committee, it is almost embarrassing to admit that this was the number one rave I received. People were quick to recognize the work involved and seemed happy with the food, tweetups, transportation, information, and cupcakes.

CHICAGO – Even though there are rumblings on Twitter about having a future HRevolution in Hawaii or Las Vegas, many attendees commented to me how perfect the Chicago location was for them from a transportation and travel standpoint.  They liked Chicago and the choices it afforded them.

CONNECTIONS MADE – Many people came specifically for the opportunity and ability to meet others and extend connections with online friends and acquaintances.  While some wished they had been able to do more, many were enthusiastic about the connections they did make.

Now that I have reported on the most frequent rants and raves made by attendees (to me), I am going to indulge myself  just a little and give you a personal rant and rave (just one each!) because I can only shut up for so long. 😉

PERSONAL RANT

There have been a lot of blog posts and tweets about HRevolution.  Some were positive, some were not. Fair enough.  I get the distinct impression, though, that many people made their feelings known only through a blog post or a tweet. No personal contact with, or email or phone call to, a planning committee member – even though contact information for every committee member was given to every participant. Was this you?  It makes me wonder if some people actually listened to some of the messages that were given about the value of connection and communication.  If you have something to say about HRevolution – good or bad – say it on your blog or on Twitter, but say it directly to the people who brought you HRevolution, too.  You can’t have influence and credibility in 140 characters,  so make a meaningful connection and help HRevolution – and yourself – move forward.

PERSONAL RAVE

I was a very small part of a talented and dedicated group of people who helped bring HRevolution to life.  I learned much about effective collaboration and valuable teamwork from this experience, and I have to thank Trish McFarlane, Ben Eubanks, Crystal Peterson, Steve Boese, Mark Stelzner, and Jason Seiden for allowing me to be a part of this team. I am raving about all of them!

IT’S YOUR CHANCE NOW

I chose not to personally comment on the rants and raves of the attendees, because I want to know what YOU think!  Were you there?  Do you agree with anything?  Nothing?  Do you have other experiences that could help make an event like this better for everyone?

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

5 Copyright Law Myths

I have only been a blogger for a couple of months, but most of these things have irked me for a long time. When I jumped into social media in 2009, I found these myths or misunderstandings were more pervasive and common than I expected, particularly among bloggers.

Myth #1: It’s spelled copywrite.

Okay, a misspelling is not a myth, but it bugs me.  Looking up the proper spelling would take about 15 seconds.

The reason it is called (and spelled) copyright is because the law gives the creator of certain “works of authorship” the exclusive right to reproduce (“copy”) that content.  It is not about writing, per se, because even though certain writings are protected creative content, so are such diverse creations as musical works, dramatic works, pantomimes, graphic works, and architectural works.

MYTH #2: You can’t copy my idea.

The foremost purpose of copyright law is to encourage individual effort as a way to advance public knowledge and culture.  By limiting copyright protection to the author’s method of expressing an idea, and not to the idea itself, others can create and disseminate more work and information.  If I have a great new idea for HR practice, and I blog about it, that idea is not protected and others may use it, even if they took the idea from my blog.  The only thing copyright law protects is the particular words I used to express the idea.  Some ideas are protected by other laws, such as patent law, but the requirements for protection are usually very stringent.

MYTH #3: I wrote that title and you can’t use it.

Names, titles, slogans, and short phrases are not copyrightable.  This is true even if it is unique or novel.

MYTH #4: I can copy your work because I don’t make money with it.

This is probably a simplification of the “fair use” defense, but it is dangerous and inaccurate.  Under the fair use defense, the purpose and use of the infringing work, and whether that use is “commercial in nature”, is only one of four factors that a court might look at to determine whether there is actionable infringement.  Not making money with the copy is not definitive.  I don’t make money with this blog, but I certainly don’t have the right to copy someone else’s and paste it here.

Determining if a copy is an infringement or is fairly used is actually very difficult.  There is purposefully no specific number of words, lines, or percentages.  Each complaint is determined on a case-by-case basis.  The best way to avoid any complaint from a copyright holder is to get permission.  Acknowledging the source of your copy does not legally replace permission.

MYTH #5: I can copy your work because it does not say or show ©.

Under current law, neither notice (©) or registration is required for a copyright to attach to a given work.  A copyright is attached to original expression the moment it is fixed in a tangible form.  Registration of your copyright, while not required for your rights to attach, is desirable for a number of reasons.

The U.S. Copyright Office has an excellent website with a great FAQ section.  It will even tell you how to protect your Elvis sighting.  Other questions (and comments) welcomed!

HRevolution – The Future of HR

Saturday afternoon the gloves came off.

The last session of the HRevolution un-conference, introduced in my previous blog, was called “The Future of HR”.  It was facilitated by the incomparable Mark Stelzner, whose admitted purpose was “to be provocative and shake the room up a bit.”  His mission was well accomplished, and the passionate discussion was described by @KristaFrancis on Twitter: Great minds *don’t* think alike and that’s a good thing.  Mark summed up the discussion on his blog, but I want to focus on this particular statement:

There was a great discussion on how people need to quit their HR jobs if they are that miserable. In other words, stop complaining and lamenting your non-strategic role and instead find a company that values your contribution.

That “call to action” has been repeated since on blogs (here ), and the HR Happy Hour blog talk radio show.

Ouch.

Why does it pain me to hear and read that people who want to make a difference should just quit their jobs and go elsewhere? Because it’s a strategy that’s far too over-simplified, and the consequences of failure are too dangerous for that simplification.  I speak from personal experience.

My Personal History

I come from a small (less than 50 employees) food processing/manufacturing plant.  My husband and his partner own the business.  When I began working there, no one knew exactly what my role was going to be.  I fell into an HR function almost immediately, because there was NO HR function there at all.  I started learning, and I made myself a HR Manager/Generalist.  I had a seat at that strategic table, usually at the head.  I made those P&Ls sing.

So why did I leave in June 2008?  Because I had a nagging feeling that there was more evolving to be done, and I couldn’t do it where I was.  There is only so far you can go in a really small company before some of the work becomes redundant, and some becomes impossible. So I quit (read: no unemployment benefits) and went looking for a company that would “value my contributions”.

It’s now November 2009 and I have yet to find that company.  Telling a recruiter or a hiring manager that I left my job because “I needed new challenges” makes them hang up on me.  Layoffs and downsizings create sympathy, self-indulgence does not.

I’m lucky – my husband still owns the company and has a job, so I still have sufficient funds to go to un-conferences and listen to people tell me to do what I’ve already done.  But suppose I was a sole breadwinner with kids to support and a mortgage to meet?  That strategy would have placed a lot of other people in jeopardy.  Is Laurie Ruettiman’s philosophy is the better one? She says, ” You get a paycheck. Be happy.”

Going Forward

By sharing that with you, I want to emphasize a point that was touched on at HRevolution but not sufficiently embraced: the enlightened HR group that we are a part of is a very tiny minority of the entire HR population.  The solutions and suggestions we propose inside of our “HR echo chamber”  will not be embraced by them  and will often be actively resisted.  We need to help others examine themselves and their roles to see how they can evolve and revolutionize, even if circumstances and paychecks keep them in their positions.  A large majority of HR pros don’t even know that people and technology exist to help them make this journey.  In other words, they don’t read our blogs.  Until a very short time ago, I was one of those people.

When Alicia Arenas asked us in a video to leave HRevolution with a commitment to spread the message, she mentioned college students and local SHRM chapters as examples of avenues to spread our enlightenment. Let’s collectively think of more, and start an outreach program, because we will not succeed without  converting others. With that in mind, I am picking up the flag of  HRevolution and making this commitment:

I will use social media, personal connections, and any other soapbox that is available to me to encourage, aid, and advise HR Pros and other business professionals to embark on a course of personal development that will expand their knowledge and engage and enlighten others.

By doing this, I hope to move past the idea that HR people should just be happy to get a paycheck.  The people I will try to reach may not be able to leave their companies, but they may be able to avoid doing everything “The Company Way.”  Viva la revolution!

The Company Way




HRevolution – Beginnings

I attended a strange and amazing “unconference” two days ago.  It was called HRevolution and it was a collection of HR and recruiting pros coming together to discuss social media and its intersection with their professional life.  It was the first out-of-town HR conference I had ever attended, made up mainly of bloggers (including Twitter micro-bloggers).  The ideas flew fast and furiously, and I already have several HR University lesson plans in the works based on thoughts generated at the Revolution. Those lessons will have to be spread out over several posts, but I want to start here with some introductory remarks about the Revolution in general:

  • One of the attendees at HRevolution, Frank Zupan, lives and work in Cleveland.  He eats corned beef at a deli called Slyman’s; they buy corned beef made at United Meat & Deli (UMD) in Detroit.  The corned beef is injected/pumped with pickling brine with a machine operated by Joaquin Arredondo.  Joaquin is a permanent resident alien (has a green card) – a status that I helped him obtain as the HR manager at UMD.  That circle (Frank to Joaquin to me to Frank) of connectivity wasn’t created by HRevolution or Twitter, but it was discovered there.  It makes a compelling argument for the continuing exploration of social media, and it slaps the argument that “people only connect on social media because they can’t connect in person” right in the face.
  • Laurie Ruettiman of Punk Rock HR is a true superstar of the HR blogosphere.  Ooohs and aaahs were audible when she arrived, and I am old enough to be her mother.  In fact, I discovered through conversation with her that I am older than her mother. But she, like the other Gen X and Ys present (which was most of the room), was absolutely energizing.  Boomers like me can learn a lot from these smart kids, if we will listen.
  • None of the attendees at HRevolution had met me before; they only knew who I was because of my Twitter presence. Yet almost everyone who knew who I was (because of my avatar) hugged me. It was marvelous because I really like hugging.
  • HRevolution attendees have an absolute fascination with bacon.  I have no idea what the origin of this fascination is, or why it continues.  I am happy to indulge the fascination, though.  The first HRevolution attendee who comments (10 words or more required) on this blog post will receive the book “Zingerman’s Guide to Better Bacon” as a gift from me.

bacon-book

More lessons to follow; stay tuned!