#Leadership Lesson Fm Gregg Allman – Faking It Doesn’t Fly


This week Greg Allman died.  Founding member and keyboardist/guitarist/vocalist for The Allman Brothers, Greg lived a full-life.  Perhaps too full at times, for his cup did overflow many times, but no one would accuse Greg Allman of being boring.

Frankly, growing up I wasn’t an Allman brothers fan.  Later in my life, my husband, a huge fan, re-introduced them to me.  I had no choice but to listen to the Allman Brothers, and no shocker– they grew on me…a lot.  Let’s say they are the perfect band to drink a cocktail on the porch to.  Also, they were the “founders” of Southern Rock – so…enough said.

But regarding Greg Allman, his music didn’t influence me as much as a recent interview I saw on AXS TV’s, The Big Interview with Dan Rather.  He told a story that reaffirmed a fundamental leadership belief I’ve had for sometime:  You can fake it till you make it, but you better get”real”-real-quick if you want to be a transformative leader with staying power.  

Allman’s story below is a lesson in understanding and accepting who you are.  This is extremely important if you want to lead, support, or influence anyone (HR Leaders I am looking at you).

Allman was many, many things:  musician, brother, father, pioneer.  Unfortunately, Allman was also a raging alcoholic most of his life.  Junkie too.  Rehab 14 times.  Couldn’t kick it.  In this clip (starting at time stamp 4:30, but watch the whole thing), he tells a story about the night The Allman Brothers were inducted into the Rock Hall.  Despite his best efforts to drink just enough to stave of the shakes but not enough to get drunk, he indeed got wasted.  During his acceptance speech he couldn’t fake being OK – not possible.  The abuse had caught up to him in a very personal yet public way.  It crushed his spirit.

Sad thing — the more he tried to hide it, the more everyone knew his game.  His pretending effected no one but himself, and it almost broke him.  A man who wore his authenticity on his sleeve in every way, thought he could hide a part of himself that was perhaps most visibly and mentally (at the time) prevalent.  This was not good and effected his ability to work, create and lead.

Real leaders are not pretenders.  Real leaders do not pretend to be experts in areas they are not. Real leaders do not pretend to have “made-it”.  Real leaders do not pretend they are always in control.  Real leaders do not pretend to be flawless, scarred or troubled.  Rather, they understand their flaws make them relate-able, unique and trustworthy.  They understand their flaws are what make them the most “follow-able” and the most willing to ask for help when necessary.

Since Allman was so much more than just an “alcoholic”, I encourage you to check out this GREAT CBS interview (did you know he was going to go to med school?).

Also check out this groovy (quite literally) video of Gregg singing The Whipping Post…. 

RIP Gregg Allman — thank goodness you found your path and could share you story with all of us.





#HR Hired Before Execs! Fad or Fundamental


Over the years I’ve seen HR practices come and go.  Remember the Zappo’s “Holacracy”? Sounded great…but didn’t stick. This, my friends, is what we would call a fad.  So, in that vein, a friend of mine forwarded me a New York Times Article titled: Focusing On HR Before Ping Pong Tables. The article describes a shift in the startup world where HR Leaders are amongst the first to be hired rather than the last.

“Should HR come first in success planning? Even for startups? Yes, here’s why:”

I read this and thought, “It’s about time. The millennials are getting this RIGHT!”  Yes, I said the millennials.  Perhaps exposure to corporate talent failures have gotten through the interwebs (cough…Uber) combined with millennials’ innate desire to “do what is right socially” is shifting the perception of what HR’s true value proposition is.

Many of us have witnessed the HR-Afterthought Effect. Here is the typical progression of the HR function at ACME Corporation:

  • Phase I:  The leaders themselves are HR.  (which means there is no HR)…

Read the rest of my post (and lots of other great stuff) on the Clear Company blog. And join me at the Clear Company Talent Success Conference in Boston this fall! 




#WorkHuman Speaker, Mary Faulkner >Myth Of Empowerment

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I’m inviting you to join me at this year’s WorkHuman conference May 30th – June 1st, brought to you by Globoforce. If you come, expect one of the most exciting Leadership/HR events of the year!  Want to see why > CLICK HERE! (yeah, that’s Michelle Obama). And if you decide to come, use my Dawn Magic Code — WH17INF-DBU – to get a $500 DISCOUNT.  

I’m proud to introduce you to WorkHuman speaker, HR pro and friend, Mary Faulkner.   In this videocast, Mary talks about her quick-hit session titled, “The Myth Of Empowerment”.  Mary says, “As much as we say (companies) we want you to be… empowered, we make sure there’s absolutely no way you can be because of the structure we put around you.”

Here’s more — Enjoy!  And see you at WorkHuman, May 30th!






The Rules Of HR Blogging? Are There Rules?

People ask me a lot what it takes to be a blogger (fancy people say writer).  They want to know what the rules are to write great posts.  I have a four word answer:

Be authentic and consistent. Other than that, there aren’t any rules. 

  • Write what you want.
  • If you mispell a word — unless it is a post about spelling, who gives a crap
  • If you can paint a picture telling a story from your life, childhood, therapy session or conversation with the customer service rep at Publix – go for it.
  • If you hate mushy therapy talk and are more data driven — write a 700 word post with algorithms only.  If that is your jam, go for it.
  • How many words should a standard post be?  Who cares! Whatever you want it to be! I’ve read blog posts anywhere from 10 words to 1000.  If the content is compelling, I’ll read it.
  • Be authentic.  If you are authentic your audience will find you no matter how long the post, how grammatically incorrect it is, or how many times you talk about how your kindergarten teach f’ed you up.
  • Be consistent.
    •  The more you write the more quickly you’ll build an audience.  But if you can only write every 2 weeks — great.  Just prove to your readers you will post every two weeks.
    • Also, you want to be fairly consistent on overall message.  If you swing to far with competing messages, it can be confusing.  But, again… who cares!  Perhaps that is your style.  Or perhaps the blog is supposed to show the yin and yang of it’s topics.
    • It’s OK to change your mind on a point of view.  So, consistency, in this case, be damned.

Lastly, if you learn blogging is a crap fest and you hate writing — take up fly fishing!  It’s all good. Life is short. Enjoy the ride.



Want To Be The “Master Of Your Domain”? #WorkHuman adds keynote, Julia Louis-Dreyfus.

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Friends —

If you needed another reason to join me and a whole lot of great people at one of the best HR/Leadership/Engagement conferences of the year, Globoforce’s WorkHuman, I’ve got one for you…

One of my favorite people of all time, Julia Louis-Dryfus, has been added to the rosters of great keynote speakers .

And if you decide to attend, you can get the sweet Dawn Magic Discount.  See below for details.

Many of you know I dabbled in acting.  One of the things I learned in theatre school was the importance of being open to others.  Of listening intently to your acting partners on stage so you can respond authentically, in the moment.  Of breaking down all personal barriers to continue to be open.  This is extremely difficult.  Many actors just can’t do it.

She can.

Globoforce CEO, Eric Mosley said, “As one of the great comedic actresses of our time, Julia understands how to embody unique, relatable and, most importantly, human traits that truly bring her characters to life.  Her work reminds us of the importance of authenticity and levity – characteristics that make us undeniably human. She is an inspiring addition to WorkHuman, and we are thrilled to share the stage with her in 2017.”

Need more:  Here are all the reasons I love her: 

  • She has broken the glass ceiling for female comedians.
  • She is funny and classy.  You don’t see that often.
  • She created the Elaine “dance”.  Once you’ve seen that you realize 1/2 the guys you’ve dated do that same dance.
  • She lost the “master of my domain” contest (Seinfield episode “The Contest”) because she ran into John F. Kennedy, Jr.  I mean, who wouldn’t. Totally relatable!
  • She studied theater at Northwestern.  And she was all-in during her alma mater’s championship basketball game last week, when for the first time in program history they are going to the NCAA tourney.  Theatre and a sports lover?  What’s not to love.
  • Did I mention she is really funny.
  • She endured 9 seasons of Kramer (#toosoon ?)
  • She can go toe-to-toe with one of the greatest writers of all time, Larry David.  (you thought I was gonna say Seinfield, didn’t you).
  • Second-City Alum.  If you can crack that egg – you’ve got endurance.
  • She’s married to Christopher Guest. I mean…
  • She’s maintained credibility in her field for what, 3 decades?!
  • One word:  VEEP
  • And she gave a big smooch to another of my favorite actors, Bryan Cranston, at the Emmy’s.

But why do I love her even more, and why is she going to be an incredible addition to the WorkHuman roster? She knows there is more to life than acting. She is an advocate  for the environment, serving on the leadership council for the Natural Resource Defense Council and on the boards of Heal the Bay and Heal the Ocean.

So you must join me at WorkHuman!  And if you do, use the Dawn Magic Discount code,WH17INF-DBU, when you register to get a discount!

See you there.





Join Dawn Burke On HRExaminer Radio: Executive Conversations


Friends.  I gotta give you the real deal.  The hook up.  I am thrilled to be the featured guest on the HRExaminer BlogTalk Radio Show:  Executive Conversations.

The Executive Conversations show will be broadcast this Friday, February 10th at 9am CST. To join in just click here.  Also, you can chat throughout the show on the twitter back-channel following #HRX.

I will join host, John Sumser, and for 30 mins we’ll talk shop.  We’ll talk about HR, Leadership, maybe we’ll throw in a little Daxko, what’s top of mind for leaders in 2017, HR and Workplace Tech, amongst other things.  We’ll probably throw in some Hamilton, Netflix, Music, who knows.

For my HR, Leadership, Culture and workplace warriors, all shows on John’s HRExaminer Radio line up are great.  For those looking for some bite-sized nuggets of info from a variety of interesting people- this is definitely a show for you.

Also, It’s broadcast over the web.  So you can listen at your desk, in the car, on your phone, wherever.  We are here to please!

Looking forward to seeing y’all then!






ALWAYS Believe Adults Mean What They Say

As HR Pros and Talent Acquisitions Specialists we have to make judgments based on information. We usually gather this information in the form of interviews (job interviews, coaching interviews, feedback surveys, etc.).

What have I learned after all these years interviewing? When an adult tells you something, you have to believe they mean it.

Here’s my story:

When I was going through a personal crisis many years ago (you know, death in family, divorce, whatever), I was in a period of believing my own spin about other adults’ intentions. I was particularly good at creating motive when someone did things questionable in public. And usually to me.

We all have a way of creating an alternate reality when the current one is simply too difficult to digest, understand, or tolerate. When I was in a phase of creating these alternate realities, a great friend of mine said, “Dawn, damn it, at some point you just have to know adults mean want they say and say what they mean.” My counselor concurred.

Read the rest of my post (and lots of other great stuff) at Fistful Of Talent….