#Boondoggle ’15 > Leaders Must Carry The Weight


I attended a leadership event, Boondoggle that got me singing again. Literally. Below is the track to prove it. Why did this event get me singing again? I had the revelation it is OK to be a professional and an artist. It’s OK to be a leader and a learner. It’s OK to be messy, scared, and complex yet simple, thoughtful and strong. More on this at the end of this post.

Here is the Track >> Carry The Weight . (Harmonies are sweet around 2:00).


So, I attended an event called Boondoggle last week. My pals Jason Lauritsen and Joe Gerstandt pulled together a small group of folks to spend 2 days in a cabin in Omaha and talk about the future of work. This fab cross section of folks included trench-HR execs, software entrepreneurs, leadership consultants, and national speakers. In addition these folks are experts on millennials, diversity and best places to work.

A motley yet, engaging, thought provoking, and frankly, caring group. Yes- caring. Which means they were not afraid to be vulnerable. When the courage to be vulnerable split this group wide open that is when the true work began (Or as Charlie Judy might say #truwork – look it up). So what were the take-aways?:

  • Effective next-generation leaders must carry the human weight of their teams. Emotionally. Intentionally. At least they must support the weight.
  • Effective next-generation leaders MUST embrace the duality of every human being. We are too complex. Team members can be both simple yet complex, put-together and messy, process-driven and creative.
  • Companies have to throw away one-word “success factors” that describe ideal cultures. Those are too limiting.
  • Effective leaders need to get out of the way. They should hold a mirror up to folks and let them come up with their own revelations and outcomes, both for work and life purposes.

Most importantly next-gen leaders need to model it (empathy, caring, getting out of the way, vulnerability). If you can model it you can start a movement within your organization.

So about that singing. For 20 years I was a performer. Actually studied for it. For the next 20 years I was an HR professional. An ambitious one. I’ve always had a reason why one side of my life (artist) needed to be overcome by another (professional). There is a time and place for everything- and I think that my performance studies have made me a much better HR pro. However, to deny the full-depth of humanity for the sake of my profession was a mistake.

After Boondoggle I called my songwriting partner/ bandmate from college, Scott Rogers (who is now a professor) and we started recording. He in Utah, me in Alabama. No excuses. I bought the equipment and sang. Took and hour. Totally worked, just like riding a bike. Once  he posted the tracks, several of my other band mates connected and wanted to participate. Scott and I modeled actions and started a movement.

Carry the weight. Cool things may happen.

Leaders Want Some Humble Pie? Record yourself on #fistfuloftalent

Good leaders > Get Over Yourselves.  If you get out of your head, you can nurture others.  So…

Since my blog is about real.life.hr – I thought I’d start this fire sharing a little humble pie.  If you read my stuff you likely know I think great leaders model vulnerability.  I can think of nothing that makes a person feel more vulnerable than the video title screen that “magically” pops up when you post something on youtube or vimeo.  You always come out like a you were a glich in the Matrix, A Picasso with all your facial features on one side of your face or your ugly stick just got broke over your head.

A little background.  I have the pleasure of hosting “No Scrubs” on Fistful of Talent (sponsored by Chequed.com; Thank you Dan Houtz!).  It’s a videocast put on once a month to discuss cool practices, good ideas, and bad ideas around talent acquisition in particular.  Since there are so many cool folks on the show I thought I would start rebroadcast this year’s episodes on dawnhburke.com too.  More to come on that!

First of all, a rested Dawn looks like this.  A little Bumble n Bumble, a little sleep and my Chi and we are good to go.

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AND NOW FOR THE HUMBLE PIE.  “Recorded Dawn” always falls on a day with 100% humidity, I didn’t sleep, a storm rained on my parade, the air conditioning went out, holy crap I forgot my Chi, blah, blah.

My faves: remember, I’m doing this for the good of all leaders!

 1. The “I want to put a gun to my head because, well, it’s an interview with Dawn at 10am” (w/ Kris Dunn)

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2 .The Sid Vicious/ Johnny Rotton: (w/ Tim Sacket)

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3. The I’m channelling my Jim Carrey’s “Lemme TellYa Somethin'” face (w/ Laurie Ruettimann) 

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4. The “Silicon Injections in my lips seemed like a good idea” pout (w Jason Lauritsen)

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5.  The I just woke up 20 minutes ago and forgot to put PrepH under my eyes (w/ Robin Schooling)

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6. I have a skunk stripe but couldn’t commit / and I forgot the PrepH under my eyes (w/ Matt Charney)

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7. The “I’m really a ventriloquist dummy” (w Pete Radloff)

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8.  The “OMG my hair finally looks good” cause I had to live up to the diva herself” (w/ Melva Tate)

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OK now that this is out-of-the-way– let’s get to work.


No Kid Hungry #shrm15 poetry slam: doing something is easy

I attended a great event at #SHRM15.  A few social media influencers Rayanne Thorn, Dwane Lay, and Jason Lauritsen organized a fundraiser for “No Kid Hungry”.   Here’s the deal:

  1. They pulled it off in about 3 weeks.
  2. Found a venue (shout out Public House at the Luxor, Las Vegas) that worked with budget.
  3. Got cos they work for to sponsor (Quantum Workforce/Dovetail– maybe some others?). Actually Quantum chose to skip the #shrm15 vendor booth to sponsor this social event.  Folks can relate to empathy better than swag.
  4. Had about 80 in attendance.
  5. Raised to date $3k — still taking pledges.  Click here to do contribute.

You want to do something like this for your organization.  Easy steps: 

  1. Find charity you feel compelled to help >  www.charitynavigator.org
  2. Find a fundraising platform > www.gofundme.com 
  3. Have fun; here are some ideas > www.fundraiserinsight.org
  4. Connect the audience to those who have been impacted by the charity. You must connect folks hearts to the cause.  Just stats or just a flyer about the group doesn’t cut it.  
  5. Go for the ask.  Don’t be afraid to ask for donations. And don’t just ask your family (the easy ones).

Simple. No excuses.

Late preppin’ for #SHRM15 conference; no sweat

I’m busy.

You’re busy.

You are probably sitting in the airport on your way to #SHRM15 going what.the.hell.  I’m not ready.  Where do I go.  I just sat at gate C3 and recognized 20 others from my small town going to the conference.  Multiply that times a jillion other cities.  Crap.  It’s a big conference.

DON’T SWEAT.  you’ll be fine.

If you are late on the upswing prepping for the conference, here are a few things that will ease your mind.

  • The App is where it’s at.  Download the SHRM15 app.  It really will walk you through a bunch of stuff.
  • Use your air-flight time wisely.  Spend the 10$ on wi-fi you cheap-skate and work on the plane.  And this is easy work.  All it takes is one hour to surf the #SHRM15 app or webpage to navigate the speakers/schedule.
  • Don’t over-schedule.  Just like anywhere else, enjoy a little breathing room.  I say pick 4 must see speakers.  The rest of the time…..
  • Check out the Smart Stage.  Lots of speakers talking about innovative things.  You can hang out there most of the time.  Problem solved.  Or…
  • CHECK OUT THE EXPO FLOOR.  Check out all the new technology.  Please, don’t miss this part of the conference.  If you are an HR pro you must learn how to leverage technology to help you do your job better.
  • Make scheduling easy:  pick two speakers that will help your organization and two that will help your professional development.  Looking at the speakers in terms of “tracks” is helpful.
  • But I want to give back!  I forgot to register for the SHRM Foundation event!  Give to No Kid Hungry.  A bunch of great HR pros have championed this cause.  Click here to give.
  • Forget to pack shaving cream?  You are going to Vegas not the moon.  You can get some at the Airport, the hotel, a block down any street.  Vegas is build for people who at any given moment forget stuff.  That’s there thing.
  • What about my luggage!??  Fretting that you won’t be able to land, go to the hotel, then make it to the conference to hear Coach K?  Or the Expo?  No worries.  They have a big luggage pen at the convention center to park you stuff while you attend.
  • My nails look like crap!  Airport = nail file + clear coat = good to go.
  • Please have fun.  I mean it’s Vegas.



Need A Quick HR Pick-Me-Up: Just Clench


Brain mush.

Srunchy-face in full-swing cause you can’t focus on your computer any longer.

Coffee – not doing the trick – wow.

Diet Mountain Dew – not doing the trick – double wow.

So, it’s time to pull out the big guns and do the one thing that will work. A series of booty clenches.  

I have a great friend, Darla, who is on opera singer.  Spent years in Europe (Germany, Italy, etc.) singing her heart out.  She is definitely world-class.  And a great voice teacher (mine in fact).  Her husband, Paul, is world-class too.  Juliard grad.   Fantastic voice professor and choir director and organist.

Year’s ago I would get invited by Paul to sing High Holy Day’s services with a kickin’ choir.  Essentially we sang services for 3 days.  That’s a lot of singing and a lot of sitting throughout sermons, prayers, etc. Enough sitting, in fact, to make one want to grab a little shut-eye before the next song.

But that cannot happen.  Shut-eye sorta gets your voice “un” warmed up.  So Darla gave me the trick that opera singers do if they have to wait hours between scenes:  Clinch your booty over and over and over again.  

It works at work too.  Most don’t even know you are doing it. Don’t be afraid.  I know you will act like you aren’t going to try it, but I know you will.

Maybe someone will add booty clenches to their gamified wellness app.  Hmmmmm.

#SHRM14: What Do CEO’s Want From HR? Simplicity (And Co. Tattoos On Your Booty)

Fellow FOT’er, Tim Sackett, got me out of bed.  Early.  How?  Sackett was a speaker at this years #SHRM14 Conference and was slotted at the highly-sought after, prime-time…7:00am.  Yes.  Whew. Of course I love Sackett as a writer and as a co-host on the CYA report, but had never seen his live presentation.  So my alarm went off at 5am so I could support my friend in his hour of glory. His very early hour of glory.

His presentation “What Your CEO Wishes HR Would Start Doing” intrigued me.  I am one of the fortunate few VP’s of People (HR) whose CEO had the great foresight to have HR representation on the executive leadership team (me).  So I wanted to see if Tim got it right.  I’m happy to say, I think he did.   I’m not gonna give away all Tim’s secrets because I want you to check him out yourself at a conference near you.  But here are some of the highlights I think he got right.  Your CEO wants you to:

  • simplify everything.  Emails, proposals, meetings, phone calls.  My CEO, David Gray, will likely throw a tomato at my head if I continue to send him emails “below the fold”.
  • get in their face (figuratively).  If you give your CEO honest feedback about the company, culture, her (like how I said her), feedback you think might actually get you fired, you will likely get more respect.  Very few people have the courage to tell their CEO the truth. Don’t filter. Because most info CEO’s get is so filtered it’s worthless.
  • act more than plan.  Pretty charts don’t mean nuthin’ but action does.
  • understand the talent of your competition.
  • stop being an HR terrorist with the law.  It is not HR’s job to eliminate risk – it is our job to advise on risk.  I teach this to my HR team.
  • say yes.  I too advise this to my HR team.
  • give away HR’s non-essential, non-value jobs to someone else.  Tim’s example: For some unknown reason HR LOOOVE’s to hang on to creating dress code policy.  Give that away to someone else – say the employees who have to live by it.  You need to spend your time on work that will drive engagement, productivity, company health and profits.
  • be one of your companies biggest evangelists.  If you are willing to tattoo your company logo on your booty – you may just be the biggest evangelist.  In all seriousness, if you can’t evangelize to others how great your company is, you may need to consider a new place to work for everyone’s sake.

There you have it.  Check out Tim Sackett at www.fistfuloftalent.com and at www.timsackett.com.

#SHRM14 Robin Roberts On The Virtues Of Just Rolling With It

If there is one lady I have always liked it’s Robin Roberts.  She is probably the singular reason GMA is on my morning news rotations between CNN, Morning Joe and my local news (which I just need for traffic).

Robin kicked off SHRM#14 with a little humor, good storytelling and I LOT of levity.  “We are all a little bit stronger than we think we are”.  We hear about engagement at work. And I have written several post with the sentiment “everybody’s got their S**t” from the point of view of an HR pro and also about being your authentic self, especially at work.  But sometimes people have a story embodying those sentiments so compelling, that no opining does it justice.  And that person would be Robin Roberts.

Why she’s so compelling:

  • She is from Mississippi (where I grew up) – so, she is already and A player to me.
  • She worked in Hattiesburg, Mississippi – the city I grew up and went to college (USM! Southern Miss To The Top).
  • She is one of the most respected journalists in the world.
  • She overcame Hurricane Katrina.
  • She overcame cancer.
  • She overcame MDS.
  • She publicly came-out.
  • She continued to work.
  • She continued to inspire.
  • And after she was in remission or (possibly cured) her and the GMA gang threw a “rager”.  She got her drunk-on and admitted it. Love it.

She never complained.  She rolled with it.

Now seriously, behind closed doors I’m certain she had support, breakdowns, and hard days.  But her perseverance was palpable. And she has a story worth hearing.

So HR Pros:

  • Again, it bears repeating, everybody has their problems at work. Really. Everyone.  Give the employees that may be getting under your skin, or underperforming, or zoning out, or getting to work a little late the benefit of the doubt (at first ) that maybe something more is going on.
  • We as HR pros, have so much to juggle.  Just roll with it.  I mean the alternative of stress, anger, worry, and anxiety hasn’t worked so well for any of us.

Check out her new book “Everybody’s Got Something”.  

Let me know what you think