Category: On My Mind

True Grit

Posted on March 31st, by Kristin Kaufman in Career Advice, On My Mind. No Comments

Recently, I stumbled across a compelling book written by Paul G. Stoltz, entitled Grit.

He explores the components for extraordinary achievement and what it took to make it happen. I found his exploration compelling, and certainly worth highlighting. He boils the key contributing factors down to: Growth, Resilience, Instinct, and Tenacity. In a nutshell he defines these traits like this:

Growth is your propensity so seek and consider new ideas, additional alternatives, different approaches and fresh perspectives.
Resilience is your capacity to respond constructively and ideally make good use of all kinds of adversity.
Instinct is your gut-level capacity to pursue the right goals in the best and smartest ways.
Tenacity is the degree to which you persist, commit to, stick with, and relentlessly go after whatever you choose to achieve.

I loved his succinct way to bottle the traits so many successful folks have embraced to achieve their dreams. Hi book also compliments the Ted talk offered by Angela Lee Duckworth. Angela explores what distinguished the super star 7th graders from those just eking by. What was the common denominator?  You guessed it: Grit.

Grit is a trait embraced by thousands of unsung heroes in life. One does not have to be a well-known war hero, CEO, or social entrepreneur to exhibit GRIT in their lives. In fact, my most recent book in the ‘Is This Seat Taken?’    book series, highlights 15 folks who very late in life created the life of their dreams, and every single one of them exhibited grit throughout their lives. They are as diverse as one can imagine – from a hospice chaplain to a recovering alcoholic to an unlikely late in life writer. I was inspired while researching and writing about each of these individuals. For example, take Jacqueline Qualls who was laid off at age 62, without enough to retire in the manner in which she desired, and then embarked on a completely different career to create a 7 figure residual income a short five years later. And that is just one example of tremendously resilient souls who have set the bar for each of us to follow.

So, what is the takeaway for application in our lives? Net: we each have the ability to CHOOSE GRIT. We do not control what happens TO us; yet, we do have the ability to choose how we respond to it. Whether we are a corporate middle manager, an enterprising entrepreneur, a single mother, a student struggling with dyslexia, or a recently laid off ‘late in life’ business person – nothing difficult gets accomplished without the toughness and perseverance to see it through. Grit is always at the heart of it.


About the Author: Kristin Kaufman is founder of Alignment, Inc.™, formed in 2007 to help individuals, corporations, boards of directors and non-profits find alignment within themselves and their organizations. A prolific writer, Kristin’s first book, Is This Seat Taken? Random Encounters That Change Your Life, was released on 11/1/11 to national acclaim, and endorsed by Stephen Covey and John Maxwell, among others. Her second book in the series, entitled Is This Seat Taken? It’s Never Too Late to Find the Right Seat was released 1/13/15. It has already been endorsed by notables such as Marshall Goldsmith, Sean Covey, and Doug Parker, CEO of American Airlines. This book shines the light on late in life reinvention and encore ‘second half’s’ of diverse individuals. The individuals are in some cases widely known and others are somewhat  anonymous to the mass public. The common thread is their ‘post-50’ resurgence in life and in some cases their ‘fork in the road’ is quite serendipitous. Kristin’s third book, a sequel to ‘Is This Seat Taken?’ will follow later in 2015. Kristin is on Twitter as @kristinkaufman.

Appreciation Shouldn’t Need a Day…But Sometimes It Does

Posted on March 17th, by Jennifer Payne in Business and Workplace, On My Mind. 3 comments

Over the past few weeks, there have been a number of days dedicated to recognition and appreciation of various sorts.  Employee Appreciation Day was observed on Friday, March 6th – a chance to “support, thank and reward workers” for their hard work and dedication throughout the year.  Sunday, March 8th was International Women’s Day, a “global day celebrating the economic, political and social achievements of women.”  And most recently, Wednesday, March 11th was Randon Tweets of Kindness day, an online event created in 2014 by Lars Schmidt, the founder of Amplify Talent, as a way to call out and recognize and thank publically individuals who have impacted or influenced you in some way using the hashtag #RTOK.  This year’s iteration was nothing short of amazing, reaching the point of trending worldwide on Twitter as countless folks shared the love for people who have supported them, helped them grow and succeed, or have just simply been there as good friends.

Personally, I’m a little torn on the idea of these “official” recognition-type days.  I mean, in theory, we shouldn’t need a specific day to appreciate those around us who make our lives better in some way, right?  Employee recognition should be on ongoing process, not a one-time event that happens because a designated day tells you that you should do so.  We should appreciate the achievements of great people (not just women) on a regular basis, not once a year.  And hopefully we’re thanking the people that help us, impact us, teach and mentor us, and support us as they do it, not just on a day designated for that.  Right?

In theory, yes.  In theory.  But then reality steps in and rears its ugly and hectic face.                      

I don’t know about you, but my days, weeks, and even years fly by quickly.  In the day to day hustle and bustle of life, as the frenetic pace of life is filled with personal and professional obligations, as days and weeks are filled with both the necessary and the fun, sometimes before I know it weeks have passed.  And sometimes I realize I haven’t been in touch with this person, or that message I meant to send hasn’t yet gotten sent, or a connection I planned to make hasn’t yet been made.  It’s not intentional, but it has happened nonetheless.

In the workplace, sometimes we are so consumed by all of the “stuff” that needs to get done that we forget to take a step back and appreciate those around us that are helping to get that stuff done, helping make projects happen, helping goals to be achieved.  We don’t mean to do it, but we plug along and neglect to stop and say thanks in the moment.

So SOULD we need to have days set aside to appreciate those around us?  No.  DO we need them?  I don’t think they’re such a bad idea.  But the true key to success is to take the momentum generated by these days and try our best to keep it going…to ensure appreciation doesn’t fade as the sun sets on that day.

What do you think?  Are appreciation days a good thing or bad thing?  A necessary evil, something that shouldn’t exist in the first place, or an opportunity? 


Photo Credit


About the Author: Jennifer Payne, SPHR has over 16 years of HR experience in employee relations, talent acquisition, and learning & development, and currently works in talent acquisition and development in the retail grocery industry.  She is one of the co-founders of Women of HR, and is currently the Editor of the site. You can connect with her on Twitter as @JennyJensHR and on LinkedIn.

Women on Top

Posted on March 3rd, by Shauna Moerke in Business and Workplace, On My Mind. 1 Comment

Let me start by saying that no, this isn’t some 50 Shades of Grey reference in an attempt to capitalize on it’s odd popularity.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about the impact a shortage of women in crucial management and executive levels can have on a company’s culture and treatment of it’s female employees. But I’m not going to spend time in this article going on and on about why this is needed, even though I do believe it is, because ultimately, it makes me feel like a bit of a hypocrite. You see, for all my conviction, I don’t want to step up and be in management myself.

I have zero desire to manage employees or a company. None. I don’t want to “Lean In” as it were. I’m not really entrepreneurial minded. It’s not because I am being pushed out by a male dominated industry, wanting to raise a family, or any other legitimate and concerning reason there aren’t more women in executive roles. In the end, management is just not something that I personally want to do.

And to be honest, I’m tired of feeling guilty about not wanting it. On all sides of the issue is guilt. If you have kids but want to work, you are a bad mother/wife. If you don’t push for management you are slacking and are not doing your part for other women. There are no winners in this game; there is only more societal pressure and insecurity that holds us back from living our lives the way we want to. I know I’m not alone in this either.

But as much as we truly do need women in management, important public positions where they make the decisions, management is not the only path to leadership and influence. All women, regardless of their career level, employment status, personal beliefs and convictions, can be leaders in their own way. All women can have influence, even if it is only within their own circle of friends or family. All women can choose to speak for themselves and be advocates for others. Every one of us has that power and should use it. Frequently.

Leadership and influence is not solely for those in positions of power. I don’t have to be a manager to influence the culture and direction of a team. But it sure does help to have someone in a position of power to help back me up. So how about we make a deal? I’ll will be an advocate for other women in the workplace and I will encourage others to do the same, if some of you out there with the desire and drive to be in those positions of power promise to listen to our collective voices and help enact real change. Sound good to you?


Photo Credit


About the author:  Shauna is an HR professional with a diverse work history, a Master’s degree, and a PHR certification. She is also a huge geek, social media advocate, and infectious giggler. Besides being a co-founder of the Women of HR she also serves as the current Ringmistress of the Carnival of HR and is the former co-host of the HR Happy Hour blogtalk radio show.  


The Understated “Good Guy” – #TimSackettDay 2015

Posted on January 23rd, by Jennifer Payne in On My Mind. 4 comments

“HR Influencer Lists” are a dime a dozen; it seems like every other week a new list appears, touting the top 50 or 100 human resources folks that you MUST follow, who are having the most impact on the profession.  Nothing against these lists, in fact, there are many, many worthy folks who regularly make it on to them; many of them good friends and trusted colleagues of mine.  However, the problem with these lists is that they tend to be one person’s opinion, based on their sometimes limited knowledge or personal interactions.  And with that comes the inevitability of many also very worthy folks being overlooked, some of them time after time.


Maybe they are passed over because they are not the loudest voices in the space, or maybe it’s just because they are too busy with their heads down and noses to the grindstone, making progress and getting things done, to spend much time talking about what they are accomplishing.  Whatever the reason, it doesn’t make them any less influential to the profession, to their businesses, and to the people around them.


So a few years back, in response to these unfortunate, though perhaps unintentional occurrences, a few blogger types decided to create a day to recognize some of these unsung, unrecognized HR heroes.  Thus Tim Sackett Day was born, with its first honoree being its namesake.  The concept quickly caught on and it was decided to make it an annual recognition and opportunity to call out those who refuse to call out themselves.  Continuing the tradition again this year, the 2015 honoree is…..



Victorio Milian


I’ve had the pleasure of knowing Victorio personally for several years now.  I think he may have even been one of my first Twitter followers; if not that, at least one of the first with whom I had any real interaction.  I met him in person for the first time in an elevator in Chicago at HRevolution 2010, and since then, he’s been one of those people who has just always been there, in the background, quietly supportive of his HR brethren. Our similar professional backgrounds have given us a common ground, having both worked HR for retail organizations, and he’s always been someone I’ve known I could go to, to bounce ideas off, for suggestions, for inspiration.  I even credit him with providing the inspiration for what become part of my company’s employment brand; it was information and a presentation he had developed for a former employer which he generously shared that become the springboard from which our concept came to life.


That’s just the kind of person Victorio is.  Generous with thoughts and ideas, ready to help out, ready to help promote other’s interests.  He’s always looking for the next project in which he can involve other HR pros, whether it be showcasing his fellow bloggers with projects such as the “HR and Home” series he ran a few years ago; featuring various HR pros in interviews on his blog; or simply taking the initiative to run with an idea that began as a discussion on social media, putting some structure around it to make it a workable concept and rallying those involved.


And did I mention that along with being a great HR pro and a heck of a nice guy, he’s quite the talented photographer to boot?


Victorio can be found in several places online:


If you don’t know Victorio, take the time to get to know him.  You won’t regret it.





Teamwork as a Customer Experience

Posted on January 8th, by Bonni Titgemeyer in Business and Workplace, On My Mind. 1 Comment

Crayons of popcorn

For the right consumer experience these days, teamwork is necessary.


On New Year’s Day, hubby and I went to the movies.  For certain reasons I won’t mention the name of the Cineplex theatre on Winston Churchill at the QEW in Oakville, Ontario.


We arrived 40 minutes early for a movie that is newly-released but not a box office smash, and planned on using a gift certificate.  


This means that we had to stand in line at the box office.  A hopelessly long line.  The line was long because their new ticket distribution kiosks don’t allow for gift certificates and it seemed everyone had a gift certificate.


If we had planned this differently we could’ve avoided that line and purchased our tickets on line instead of redeeming the certificate, but it was expiring that day and we wanted to use it.  Besides, there were long lines at the kiosks too.  It doesn’t seem like anything was gained by reconstructing the entire front entrance of the theatre to remove the ticket agents and allow for these kiosks, especially since while you can order online, they don’t yet have tickets via smartphone available yet.


Why they might choose to expire a gift certificate on the busiest day of the year is beyond me.  Why we chose to wait until the last day to redeem it is also somewhat of a mystery but it has something to do with cleaning the basement and finding the certificate just before Christmas.


Once we got in the theatre we went our separate ways. . .hubby to the concession stand and I to the theatre to stake out seats.  


It takes teamwork to get the right seats and the concessions before the movie starts, especially if you are using a gift certificate on a holiday.


Why do companies put us through these things just to get what we want?  Even though I earned an A in microeconomics in university and am the life of the party during any discussion of guns and butter, in this case I still don’t get this intersection of supply and demand.


Why are all the new releases during the holidays?  Why couldn’t I redeem my gift certificate online?  Why do they have to so understaff the theatre that it takes 20 minutes to get through a relatively simple concession line?  As I was sitting in the theatre by myself waiting for hubby to get through that line, these questions were burning for me.


Recently, my good friend Michael VanDervort directed me to an article on,  are Killing Us.  In it there are some scathing truths and conspiracy theories about why it is so important to keep the wages of restaurant workers so low.  While I could write many blog posts responding to the suggestions of the article, there was a key point of relevance to the HR professionals who read blogs on this site.  That is this, we are increasingly mechanizing the most entry-level jobs, making them quickly-trained and easily-replaceable.  There is no need to pay them more.  If the apocalypse they propose in the article is real, very shortly there’ll be no true entry-level jobs left, not just in restaurants but in everything that is in the service industry.


This is a big deal to those who view customer experience as important.


A few years ago I worked on a project to set up a manufacturing plant in Mexico.  As part of the project, I immersed myself in Mexican employment practices, to understand how everything there works. I wanted to avoid an implementation failure by mis-anticipating culture and customs.  One of my take-aways from the experience is that in Mexico there is a focus on jobs. From an HR planning perspective, the advisors tell you to increase the staffing numbers from what it takes to produce your product in America.  Their unions, tax incentives and way of thinking make that a winning formula.  There’s another discussion here about underutilization of talent there, but let’s leave that for a different blog post. 


Stop right now and ask yourself about customer service at your company.  Are you over-mechanizing the process?  In the name of efficiency have you taken out too many people?  By doing so, do you make it difficult for your customer to have a good experience?  Do people really have to plan how they are going to access your service by going to extremes to make the stars line up?  Like in the case of hubby and me, do they have to employ teamwork just to make things work out?


If yes, unless you’re Costco, you need to rethink this.  After all, if I want to make my own popcorn and pour my own cola, I might as well stay home and slouch on the couch.


About the Author: Bonni Titgemeyer is the Managing Director of The Employers’ Choice Inc. She has been in human resources for 20+ years and works in the international HR arena. She is the recipient of the 2012 Toronto Star HR Professional of the Year Award.  You can connect with Bonni on Twitter as @BonniToronto, often at the hashtag #TEPHR.

Resolutions vs. Real Change

Posted on January 6th, by Jennifer Payne in On My Mind. No Comments


I’ve decided that I’m not a big fan of New Year’s Resolutions.  By their very definition, they seem to imply grand sweeping changes that we’re going to make, starting on January 1st of each year.


There’s nothing wrong with setting goals for yourself, as long as you put in a little work and set up a framework that will help you actually achieve them.  But that’s the difference between many people’s resolutions and good, solid goals.  Often times resolutions are either made as absolutes – “I’m going on a diet,” “I’m going to stop smoking,” – or they are so vague that there’s no accountability – “I’m going to lose weight,” “I’m going to spend my money smarter,” “I’m going to work out more.”  Either way, they set the resolution maker up for failure by lack of a specific goal and actionable steps to get there.  Perhaps that’s the reason that a large proportion of New Year’s Resolutions are broken or long-forgotten by the end of January.  And with those broken resolutions, no real change is made.


However, I’ve noticed that this year, at least among many of the people I know, a shift away from resolutions.  I’ve noticed more mentions of goal setting and/or philosophical and attitudinal changes.  People committing to taking small steps towards improving their lives, or shifting their perspectives slightly to bring more positivity into their lives.  My own approach, as declared on New Year’s Day, is “No resolutions, just goals, determination, and the right mindset.”  I have changes I want to make in my life, but instead of making grand, sweeping, vague resolutions, I’ve decided I’m starting with my outlook and attitude at a guiding force, and then taking very specific steps towards making those changes.


But even beyond our personal lives, this approach can also benefit us in our professional lives as well.  As human resource and business professionals, we have an opportunity to apply attitudinal shifts and start looking at our profession from a different angle.  I wrote about this at the beginning of 2014, and I think it’s still very relevant a year later.  Though I did call them resolutions at the time, in reality what I proposed was a mindset change with goals and steps to take to back it up.  I know I made some progress in 2014, but there’s still work to be done and more progress to be made.  As a profession, there are many great things being accomplished and ideas being generated by talented people, but there’s still work to be done.


So I ask you….how can you change your mindset in 2015?  What are the steps you can take towards making changes in an actionable, goal-oriented way?  How can you help make our profession better this year?


Photo Credit

About the Author: Jennifer Payne, SPHR has over 16 years of HR experience in employee relations, talent acquisition, and learning & development, and currently works in talent acquisition and development in the retail grocery industry.  She is one of the co-founders of Women of HR, and is currently the Editor of the site. You can connect with her on Twitter as @JennyJensHR and on LinkedIn.


Happy Holidays from Women of HR

Posted on December 23rd, by Jennifer Payne in On My Mind. No Comments

In the spirit of the holidays, Women of HR is taking some time off to enjoy the season with our family and friends.

Thank you to all of our readers for coming back again and again throughout the year. You help to make our community what it is.   We appreciate you, and wish you all the best throughout the season and into the New Year!

See you in 2015!

Where Do You Start When You Begin With a Blank Page?

Posted on December 2nd, by Rowena Morais in On My Mind. 1 Comment

Simply, you start at the top and you go from there. One word at a time, which  then forms a sentence, which then forms a paragraph and before you know it, a whole page indeed.

What has this got to do with you and HR? A lot.


Consider this. You do have a blank page.


There’s the corporate vision of your company that you have been made aware of. There are the goals and aspirations of your team, whether they have made that known to the other teams, or kept it quiet. There’s the individual goals and dreams of each one of your colleagues, both your downliners and your leaders. And there’s you.

And you can start by being guided by everything that is out there.


But it would be so much better …

… for you to start, with what is within you;

… for you to not draw within the lines but to create the outline yourself first;

… to start with your vision and see how you can meld that with the vision of the organisation you are with;

… for you to start with what matters to you.


Because the truth is that what matters to you, does matter. And no one can tell you otherwise. They simply cannot push and prod and try to create visions, frameworks and models of how things should be, without it crashing into your own ideas of what these visions, frameworks and models should be.

So, to start with your own is to establish where you come from and to where you must go.


And how do you start?


Start with a dream. Start with an empty page on which you carefully lay your dream. Start with an unfettered dream as dreams that are shackled by limitations, placed by you or anyone else, simply will not do.

Let yourself wander around, go beyond and explore.

Consider what possibilities might be… and see what might happen as a result.

You are here to lead, you are here to inspire, you are also here to heal, to mend, to make anew.

To do so, you need to have the capacity to see things from a new perspective and to see possibilities where others see none.

To do so, you need vision and hope, you need a plan and you need to execute. No one said it would be easy. But easy is not the point, is it?

So, if you’re at the beginning, it’s exciting, hopeful and risky all in one.

And if you are in the middle, there’s always a chance to start at the beginning again. You need only think of the possibilities to make that happen.

How can a blank page scare you? How can a new job, new opportunities scare you? In so far as you see the limits and challenges far more than the possibilities of what may be.

So, what are you starting now? Where will you go from here?


Photo Credit

Rowena Morais is the Editor of HR Matters  Magazine, a quarterly print publication aimed at Human Resource  professionals.  She is also the co-founder and Programme Director at Flipside, a business services company with offices in Malaysia and Singapore, providing professional  certification training. Here, she provides strategic direction as well as  oversight on client training and corporate functional  areas. Rowena blogs about developing habits, execution, growth and personal  development. She lives in Kuala Lumpur with her husband, two  young kids and now, a newborn. Connect with Rowena at

A Day of Rest and Thanks

Posted on November 27th, by Jennifer Payne in On My Mind. No Comments

It’s Thanksgiving Day here in the U.S. so we’re taking the day off.

To our U.S. readers, enjoy your day with family and friends, turkey dinners, and football…..or however you choose to celebrate.

To our readers elsewhere, have a great day and great weekend ahead.

Where ever you are, whether you’re celebrating the holiday or not, take a moment today to give thanks for all of the good things in your life.

We’ll be back with new content next week.

Happy Thanksgiving!


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Snowstorms, Resilience, and Gratitude  

Posted on November 25th, by Jennifer Payne in On My Mind. 1 Comment

storm 2 (2) storm 1


I just lived through one of the craziest weeks and weather experiences I can remember.  You see, I live in the Southtowns of Buffalo, NY.  And for anyone who may have missed the story, we were just pounded with one heck of a snowstorm.  Yeah, I know, you may say “It’s Buffalo, why is that so extraordinary?”  Well this one was a record breaker – the most snowfall we’ve ever seen in such a short period of time.  My town of West Seneca officially recorded 78 inches between last Tuesday and Thursday.  And by the way, I’m not a huge fan of snow.


Now this is by no means the first major snowstorm I’ve experienced. I was too young to remember the Blizzard of ’77, the granddaddy of all Buffalo storms, but I vividly recall a few others of note: the Thanksgiving Week storm of 2000, where I and many others were stranded in our workplaces overnight (and let me tell you, you haven’t lived until you’ve tried to sleep under a desk) while hundreds of others were stranded on the I-90 for 36 hours; and the Surprise October Storm of 2006, when a nasty, un-forecasted snow/ice storm knocked out power in most of the area for days.


The thing that is most notable about those storms, as well as last week’s storm, is the way that they bring out the best in humanity, and the life lessons that can be learned from them.


storm 5


In 2000, I learned that though it’s no picnic being stranded in your office overnight, the camaraderie and bonding that comes from that experience is one that’s not easy to duplicate.  Those of us that were there still reminisce about it, 14 years later.  And the teamwork that emerged, and sheer determination to get everyone’s cars dug out and people home the next morning…that’s the kind of collaboration and focus on a common goal that any team, any workplace would envy.


In 2006, when the power finally came back on and all of us dropped our typical daily responsibilities to spend days cleaning up and getting our stores back on line, that also taught me the true meaning of working towards a common goal, and how each of us, no matter what our background or ability, can be a critical component in seeing it achieved.


And today, in 2014, I’ve realized the importance of relationships and networks.  Though I was cooped up alone for 4 days, I was never really alone.  Friends and colleagues from all over the world continually checked in on me, whether it was to see how I was holding up, just to say hi, or to try to make me laugh and keep my sense of humor alive through a long four days.  And though there were moments of worry that I’d be trapped with no way to dig out on my own, deep down I knew that would never be the case, that there is always someone around to help, and that working together we can – literally – weather the storm.


I may not like the snow, but maybe there’s just a tiny little part of me that’s just a little bit grateful that I’ve lived through these experiences.  That through them, I’ve learned the meaning of resilience, camaraderie, and a “nothing’s going to stop us” attitude.


If you can’t find the business lesson in that, well then perhaps you’re just not looking hard enough.


storm 3


About the Author: Jennifer Payne, SPHR has over 16 years of HR experience in employee relations, talent acquisition, and learning & development, and currently works in talent acquisition and development in the retail grocery industry.  She is one of the co-founders of Women of HR, and is currently the Editor of the site. You can connect with her on Twitter as @JennyJensHR and on LinkedIn.